As you may have guessed from our video posted before the weekend, CERG is quite the proponent of 4×4 (“four by four”) aerobic interval training. We’ve compared it to other types of exercise, and found it to be very effective compared to continuous moderate exercise in multiple studies. The video provides a very good introduction, but we’d like to address six common sources of confusion:
1. It’s too exhausting
If you’re not using a heart rate monitor, the rule of thumb is that during the intense parts of interval training, you should be unable to maintain a conversation comfortably. But what does this actually mean? That you should exhaust yourself completely? No. A common pitfall is pushing too hard during the high-intensity intervals, so the four minutes exhaust you. The intensity should get your heart rate up, but you should feel capable of continuing another minute after your four are up, and doing another interval after you’ve completed 4×4. Trial and error may be good enough to figure it out, but using a heart rate monitor can help you from tiring yourself out. Ideally, you should feel roughly the same after every interval – something that may be especially important for the sake of motivation.
2. It’s not intense enough
Conversely, perhaps you’re confused after hardly being out of breath and lacking lactic acid buildup from completing your intervals at 90% of maximum heart rate, per the measurements from your heart rate monitor. Isn’t this interval stuff supposed to be high-intensity training? In fact, unless you’re incredibly fit, an issue like this probably stems from “90%” not actually being 90% of your maximum heart rate. While there are formulas for calculating your max, the variation between people can be so great that you’re better off actually testing your maximum heart rate rather than just calculating it. Which brings us to…