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Can I Build Muscle Mass With Interval Training?

author image Ryan Biddulph
Based in New Jersey, Ryan Biddulph has been writing since 2010, with his articles appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM, among others. He has helped clients reach their personal fitness goals since 2001. He also runs an Internet marketing blog. He holds a Bachelor of Science in meteorology from Kean University and a certificate in Web development from the Cittone Institute.
Can I Build Muscle Mass With Interval Training?
Woman sprint training on track. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Interval training helps you burn more calories while spending less time working out. Engaging in short, powerful periods of physical activity followed by less intense exercise helps improve your aerobic capacity, burn more calories, boost your metabolism and increase lean muscle mass. Before starting an interval training regimen please consult your physician.

Intense Training

Interval training is accomplished by alternating short, intense bursts of exercise with lighter activity. A basic example of interval training is an athlete walking for two minutes and running for two minutes, alternating this pattern throughout the workout. You can also perform interval training on a treadmill by changing back and forth between periods of running and walking.

Muscle Mass

Keeping your metabolism in overdrive can aid in maintaining or adding lean muscle mass to your physique. When your metabolism revs up, you burn more fat and increase your muscle mass to body weight ratio. Increased muscle mass creates a thermogenic effect, helping you burn fat while resting. Having more muscle mass also elevates your testosterone levels. High levels of testosterone create an anabolic environment, aiding muscle hypertrophy.

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Beginning bodybuilders can use interval training to supplement their weightlifting regimen. It requires little skill to engage in high-intensity, short duration training like alternating running with walking or switching your training intensity on a treadmill. When your cardiovascular fitness improves you can exercise longer and endure more grueling resistance training workouts which help you pack on greater muscle mass. Anaerobic, high-intensity training increases lung capacity which helps improve performance with mass-building compound movements like squats, deadlifts and military presses.

Fuel Source

Engaging in long-term, consistent cardiovascular activity has a catabolic effect on your muscles. As the duration of the aerobic activity increases, glycogen stores are exhausted and your body shifts from carbohydrates to protein as an energy source, consuming your hard-earned muscle. Engaging in short, intense periods of exercise helps preserve muscle as your body uses carbohydrates as a primary fuel source, sparing your muscle mass.


Interval training regimens are high intensity and need to be planned carefully to avoid overtraining. Start with one session per week and increase by one session per week every two weeks until you are doing four interval training sessions each week.

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