How to Structure Interval Training for Competitive Speed Skaters?

As competitive speed skaters, you strive to be the fastest and fittest on the ice. Your training is intense, and rightly so. Your sport demands a high level of both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, speed, strength, and power, all of which can be nurtured through interval training. This article will take you through the effective structuring of interval training to boost your performance and fitness levels.

Understanding Interval Training

Before delving into the specifics of structuring interval training for speed skaters, it’s essential to understand what interval training is and why it’s beneficial for athletes like you. Interval training, commonly known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Tabata, is a type of training that involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with recovery periods of low-intensity work or complete rest.

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Interval training has been widely recognized for its effectiveness in enhancing both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. According to a study published on PubMed, interval training proved more efficient than steady-state exercise at enhancing both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, providing a time-efficient solution for athletes with busy schedules.

For speed skaters, interval training can be particularly beneficial. It not only hones in your aerobic and anaerobic capabilities but also develops your speed and power – critical attributes for a successful performance on the ice.

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The Elements of Interval Training

Interval training is made up of several key elements that you need to consider when structuring your workout: intensity, duration, recovery, and frequency. Each component plays a vital role in shaping the effectiveness of your training, and altering any one of them can significantly affect your results.


Firstly, the intensity of your intervals should be high enough to challenge your body and push it out of its comfort zone. Most interval training protocols suggest working at around 80-90% of your maximum heart rate during the high-intensity periods. This high intensity triggers an anaerobic response in your body, leading to improved power and speed for your skating performance.


The duration of your intervals is directly correlated with the intensity. When the intensity is high, the duration of the intervals should be shorter. Generally, intervals can range from 20 seconds to a few minutes, but for high-intensity interval training, they often fall around 20-60 seconds.


Recovery periods interspersed between high-intensity intervals provide your body a chance to rest and prepare for the next bout of intense exercise. These periods should be long enough for you to recover, but not so long that your heart rate drops significantly.


The frequency of your interval training sessions in a week is also crucial. Interval training is intense and can be taxing on your body, so it’s important not to overdo it. Generally, 2-3 interval training sessions a week, interspersed with lower intensity, longer duration aerobic workouts, can be an effective strategy.

Interval Training Workout Structure for Speed Skaters

Now that you understand the key elements of interval training, let’s discuss how to structure them specifically for speed skating. A proper structure can help maximize your training benefits while minimizing the risk of overtraining and injury.

Taking into consideration that speed skating requires both aerobic endurance (for long-distance events) and anaerobic power (for short, explosive bouts), a combination of long and short intervals can be beneficial.

A session might start with a warm-up of light skating or off-ice exercises for about 10-15 minutes. Follow this with a series of shorter, high-intensity intervals (for example, 8 sets of 30 seconds at maximum speed, with 90 seconds of rest). Conclude with some longer intervals (for example, 4 sets of 4 minutes at about 75-80% of your max heart rate, with 2 minutes of recovery).

Keep in mind that variety is key in training. Altering the duration, intensity, and recovery periods of your intervals from week to week can help prevent plateaus and keep your training challenging and effective.

Monitoring and Adjusting Your Interval Training

As you progress in your training and your fitness improves, it’s important to monitor and adjust your interval training accordingly. Make use of heart rate monitors and speed measurement tools to assess your performance during each session.

If you find that your heart rate is not reaching the desired zone during your intervals, or you’re not able to maintain the required speed, consider increasing the intensity or duration of your intervals. Conversely, if you’re constantly feeling fatigued and unable to recover adequately between intervals, you may need to lower the intensity or increase your recovery periods.

Remember that training is highly individual. What works for one skater might not work for another. Be sure to adjust your workouts according to your specific needs, abilities, and goals.

While the structure of interval training for speed skaters might seem complex at first, with the right understanding and approach, it can become a powerful tool in your training arsenal. It’s all about striking the right balance between intensity, duration, recovery, and frequency, to push your limits and reach your maximum speed skating potential.

Effect of Interval Training on Speed Skating Performance

Utilizing interval training as part of your regular training routine can have a significant impact on your performance as a speed skater. Several studies on PubMed and Google Scholar have shown the positive effects of high intensity interval training on various aspects of speed skating.

From an aerobic perspective, interval training improves your body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently. This is crucial for long-distance events where maintaining a steady state of speed is necessary. On the other hand, the high intensity bouts of exercise during interval training stimulate your anaerobic energy systems, enhancing your ability to perform short, explosive actions, vital for sprints and short track events.

Moreover, interval training can also improve your muscle power. The sudden burst of speed during the high-intensity phase of interval training puts a significant demand on your skeletal muscles. This stress, combined with adequate recovery, leads to muscle adaptation and growth, thus improving power and speed on the ice.

In the context of speed skating, interval training can also be beneficial for technique refinement. Practicing skating techniques during the high-intensity periods can help you perform them more efficiently under fatigue, enhancing your overall race performance.

In a nutshell, incorporating interval training into your speed skating routine can lead to improvements in your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscle power, technique, and, ultimately, your performance on the ice.


Speed skating is a demanding sport requiring a blend of aerobic endurance, anaerobic power, speed, and strength. Interval training, with its alternate periods of high-intensity exercise and recovery, provides an effective and time-efficient method to develop these attributes. Structuring your interval training sessions with the right balance of intensity, duration, recovery, and frequency is crucial to reaping the maximum benefits.

Regular monitoring and adjustment of your interval training based on your performance, heart rate, and recovery capability can help keep your training effective and minimize the risk of overtraining and injury. Remember, each athlete is unique. So, tailor your interval training to your specific needs, abilities, and goals.

Research on PubMed, Google Scholar, and other scholarly resources has consistently shown the benefits of interval training for speed skaters, making it a valuable tool in your training arsenal. Embrace interval training and take a stride towards achieving your maximum speed skating potential.

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