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Different types of athletic training – a beginners guide

Why bother training at all?

There lots of different reasons to train and exercise, and lots of different ways to do it. The main benefits of training include;

  • To improve health and fitness
  • To improve skill levels and build motivation, ambition and confidence
  • To gradually build up strength and endurance 

Types of training

Generally speaking there are 5 different ways to train.

  1. Continuous Training 
  2. Interval Training 
  3. Strength Training 
  4. Flexibility Training 
  5. Plyometric Training

This variety allows you to pick a method that is best suited for your ability, fitness levels and medical needs. 

We outline the different types of training below. If you already exercise and have a training plan, think about how you can switch things up a bit. 

1. Continuous Training 

If you are new to training or exercise, continuous training may be a good place to start.

  • Continuous training is performed at a continuous intensity and does not include periods of rest 
  • Typical continuous activities are cycling, running and swimming 
  • These activities use large muscles groups which are required to perform the same movements over a longer period of time 
  • Intensity of continuous training can range from low to high depending on your ability
  • Also a great way to build up your cardiovascular fitness before moving onto different training methods

Lots of health benefits come from training is this way. For example, continuous training;

  • Helps improve your lungs and heart as requires your body to use oxygen to create energy 
  • Improves heart and lung function will benefit you in day to day life – going to the shops, climbing the stairs etc 
  • Helps you loose weight, continuous training tends to burn a lot of calories even at a low intensity 
  • Is great for your mental health, allows a time for you to switch off from daily life such as work, gives you the opportunity to relive some stress

If you are not sure what insensity to train at, below has some helpful hints;

  • Moderate intensity – Breathing becomes heavy but you are still able to hold a conversation
  • Vigorous intensity – Fast breathing and with difficult talking
  • If you are able to use a device to measure your heart rate;
    • Aim for between 60% – 70% of your maximum heart rate 
    • How to work this out: 
    • (220 – Age) x0.6 = 60% = Target minimum heart rate 
    • (220 – Age) x0.7 = 70% = Target maximum heart rate

2. Interval Training 

Interval training is similar to continuous training but involves various different intensity and speeds. The main differences are;

  • Interval training generally involves quicker, tougher workouts, that are efficient in burning calories in a shorter period of time
  • This is achieved through of high intensity bursts of exercise with low intensity recovery exercises
  • This can help increase fitness and burn more calories in a shorter period of time 
  • Interval works outs are designed to be tough, therefore, it is advised for you to build up some stamina and cardiovascular fitness before taking on interval training 
  • A workout typically lasts from 20 – 30 minutes

The benefits of interval training include:

  • Improved fitness as well as endurance
  • Exposure to varying intensities including walking, jogging and sprinting
  • Reducing injury risk and body become accustomed to varying demands and forces

Incorporating interval training into training sessions even just once a week can help keep your training interesting and varied. Interval training can really help those who play sports such as football, rugby and netball where there are varying intensities throughout a game.

3. Strength Training 

Strength training is also known as weight training or resistance training. It is designed to increase muscular strength as well as fitness. The main principle of strength training to is load muscle and tendons so they adapt and become stronger over time. Regular strength training is beneficial for people of all age groups and can broadly be broken down into push or pull movements.

Strength training and help with achieving day to day tasks more affectively and also decreases the risk of injury. 

As you progress, it is important to focus on form and slowly build on increasing weight/resistance as well as repetitions/sets. 

4. Flexibility Training

Our bodies also benefit from being flexible as well as strong.

  • Flexibility training stretches your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons
  • Helps improve your range of motion, which leads to an improved freedom of movement
  • It can help with muscle fatigue, poor joint health and muscle stress
  • One way to easily improve flexibility is through daily stretching 
  • By stretching and lengthening the muscles helps improve blood flow to the muscles which promotes recovery
  • Pilates and Yoga are both examples of activities that help improve flexibility 

5. Plyometric Training 

Pylometric training is also sometimes call explosive or high impact training. It exposes our bones and muscles to higher forces and can help in conditions such as low bone density. However, impact training must be introduced slowwly and carefully to avoid injury, and ideally under the advice of a professional. 

The benefits of pylometric training include;

  • Increases muscles strength and power
  • Allows you to run faster, jump higher and change direction quickly 
  • Beneficial for a wide range of sports and activities but especially explosive sports which involve jumping
  • Decreases injury risk if introduced correctly as exposes the body the higher forces.

Plyometric training involves high intensity explosive movements, which lengthens the muscle and then quickly shortens it again. Examples of movements are box jumps, skipping and burpees.


The term athletic training, doesn’t necessarily involve training for something competitive. It can be incredibly usefuly just to improve your overall fitness in day to day tasks and life. Taking part in some kind of physical activity is better than none!

There is a training method more suited for everyone even if you are just starting out and there are lots of ways to adapt your training to make it more interesting. Having variety in our activty is the best way of keeping fit and injury free.

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    Orla Mulligan
    Administration and Social Media Manager
    Administration, LBSM

    Orla Mulligan is the administration and social media manager for LBSM. She has a strong background in sport having herself played netball at an elite standard for the U21s Northern Ireland team in the European Championships as well as the U21s competition for Saracen Mavericks.

    She understands youth sport pathways having herself played and training in the netball Kent regional pathway. She has a keen interest in most sports and a good understanding of how injury and illness can impact on the mind and body, as well as rehabilitation pathways.

    She looks forward to speaking and assisting LBSM patients and gives her best support to them during their treatment pathway.

    A day in the life of Orla involves communicating with patients via phone and email, managing and organising clinics, operations and media management.

    Outside of work, Orla is a gym enthusiast, enjoys tennis and still finds the time for an occasional game of netball.

    Maddie Tait
    BSc, MSc
    Associate, LBSM
    Musculoskeletal and Sports Podiatrist

    Maddie treats and manages complex foot and ankle injuries in London and Surrey.

    She is particularly interested in helping her patients improve their quality of life and achieve their personal goals, working closely with Foot and Ankle Consultants, Sports Medicine Doctors and Physiotherapists.

    Maddie has a sporting background herself having previously represented England in Hockey. She understands the demands of elite sport and the importance of physical and mental health. In her spare time, Maddie continues to enjoy an active lifestyle by running, cycling and attending a Pilates class.

    Having graduated from University of Brighton with a MSc (hons) in Podiatry, Maddie focused her career in Podiatric Sports Injuries and Biomechanics. Previously she completed a BSc (hons) in Sport Science at Loughborough University.

    A day in the life of Maddie involves consulting patients in clinic, performing gait and biomechanical assessments, measuring and fitting orthotics and braces. She also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine and podiatry conferences.

    Outside of work, Maddie still finds time to play hockey and enjoys running and skiing.

    Mr Prakash Saha
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Vascular Surgery

    Mr Prakash Saha is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at LBSM. He takes pride in providing the best possible results for his patients by using the most appropriate non-surgical and surgical methods based on clinical evidence, patient results and satisfaction.

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    Mr Saha studied medicine at the United Medical & Dental Schools at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals before completing his higher surgical training in London and the South East. During this time, he was awarded the prestigious NIHR Clinical Lectureship in Vascular Surgery at St. Thomas’ Hospital, giving him comprehensive training in open and endovascular techniques for treating arterial and venous disease. Prakash completed his aortic surgery training at the St. George’s Vascular Institute before carrying out a specialist fellowship at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

    Mr Saha regularly lectures and runs workshops across the globe on the latest surgical techniques to treat vascular disease. He has also been awarded a number of research grants from the Royal College of Surgeons, the Circulation Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the British Heart Foundation, which has led to over 80 publications and the development of innovative technologies to help treat patients. For this work, Prakash has received a number of prizes, including the Venous Forum prize from the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland, an International Young Investigator Award, and an Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.

    A day in the life of Mr Saha involves seeing patients in clinic, operating in surgical theatre or lecturing at his university. He also regularly teaches and presents at vascular and sports medicine conferences.

    Mr Saha is an avid cyclist and tennis player (although yet to get a set of Dr Seth!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family who consists of 3 children and enjoys travelling.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Sports and Musculoskeletal Radiology

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is a Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist at LBSM, with an extensive background of working in elite sport. He is one of the most recognised radiologists in the sports medicine field. He provides top level imaging and medical diagnostic services for patients and athletes.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran completed his undergraduate medical training at Imperial College London and his radiology training at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. He has obtained two post-CCT fellowships in musculoskeletal imaging. He was appointed as a consultant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in 2011.

    He has a passion for all sports having worked as a radiologist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and London World Athletic Championships and continues to support The Championships, Wimbledon. He also continues to work with a number of Premier League and Championship Football Clubs, Premier League Rugby Clubs, England Sevens Rugby, British Athletics and the Lawn Tennis Association.

    A day in the life of Dr Rajeswaran involves giving his expert opinion on investigations such as MRI and CT scans, x-rays and ultrasound. He also performs injection lists under ultrasound, CT and X-ray including spinal injections. He also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine conferences.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is an avid football fan and life-long fan of Tottenham Hotspur (for which he offers no apologies!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family and has a keen passion for photography.

    Dr Ajai Seth
    Medical Director, LBSM
    Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine

    Dr Ajai Seth is a Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician. He has dedicated his career to helping people with sport and exercise related injury and illness. He consults and treats everyone from the elite athlete to the weekend warrior.

    Dr Ajai Seth is part of the British Tennis Sports Physician team at the LTA and has also provided cover to elite athletes at Wimbledon Tennis, European Tour Golf, Premier League Football, British Athletics, and the Men’s England Football academies as part of the FA.

    He also prides himself for working in disability sport and is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Team GB Wheelchair Tennis which has taken him to the Olympics and Paralympics.

    Dr Ajai Seth is dedicated to education, training and research and is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Medicine at King’s College London where he lectures in all aspects of Sports Medicine and Science.

    He also has a passion for travel and Expedition Medicine, which has seen him accompany medical, scientific and charity expeditions all around the world. He also has vast experience in treating musculoskeletal injuries from children and adolescents to veteran exercisers, both male and female.

    Dr Seth also has positions in leading Sport Medicine organisations, including the non-executive board for the UK’s largest Sports Medicine charity, BASEM and Past President for the Royal Society of Medicine. 

    A day in the working life of Dr Seth involves consulting his patients in clinic, performing diagnostics and ultrasound guided injections. He also regularly lectures and tutors students and presents at sports medicine conferences internationally. He also spends part of the working week at the National Tennis Centre, LTA, supporting British Tennis players.

    Outside of work, Dr Seth enjoys playing club tennis, triathlon, golf, running and skiing (but will give any sport a go!). He enjoys keeping fit and active and good quality family time with his wife and three children.