How to Add Interval Training to Your Fitness Routine

4627134131_75ebe9a672_zPhoto by Saurabh_B via Flickr. (Creative Commons License)

If you’ve been exercising regularly and are getting frustrated by a lack of results, and/or are bored with the same old routine, it could be that the secret ingredient you are missing is interval training. Although it sounds like something that only athletes need to do, interval training can be beneficial for anyone and is actually fairly easy to mix into your routine.

Interval training simply means doing repeated short bouts of higher intensity exercise, with rest or lower intensity recovery periods in between. You may have heard about “HIIT” classes, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and many “bootcamp” type workouts will advertise this as well. These classes often push the upper limit of intensity and may include fast-paced strength or plyometric moves. These classes are more about extreme effort than about improving cardiovascular fitness. The good news is that just regular interval training is far less stressful, and will still give you great benefits.

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Some of the benefits of interval training are:

  • It can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories — even if you only do it for a few minutes each time.
  • It can improve cardiovascular fitness by increasing your aerobic capacity.
  • It can keep you focused and less likely to get bored.

Interval training is fairly simple to do for anyone who is already doing cardiovascular exercises at least three times a week. Simply change one of those workouts by adding in some timed intervals of higher intensity exercise. Remember, the interval doesn’t need to be all-out, 100% effort, and it doesn’t need to be for a long  period time where you are exhausted. In fact, it should be at a level of intensity that is somewhat hard, say around 80% of a maximal effort, and only for a short timed period. The idea is that you should be able to do several intervals (5-10) over the whole workout, with each interval followed by an appropriate time of lower intensity effort to allow your heart and body to recover.

Everyone is different, but for example, if your normal cardio workout is to walk briskly for 45 minutes, you could make it a 5-interval workout in the following way:
1.     Walk for 10 min.
2.     Jog slowly for 30–60 seconds.
3.     Walk for 1 min.
4.     Jog 30-60 sec.
5.     Walk for 1 min.
6.     Jog 30-60 sec.
7.     Walk for 1 min.
8.     Jog 30-60 sec.
9.     Walk for 1 min.
10. Jog for 30-60 sec.
11. Walk for 10 min. END

Total Time: 27-29 min. Read More »

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