If you’re into living a healthy lifestyle, chances are you’ve probably heard some buzz about interval training. Does it warrant the hype? I’d say absolutely yes – and the time to start is now! Though the technique has been around for years, ‘til recently it was primarily used by elite athletes to help them increase fitness, while at the same time reduce overtraining and injury. As the practice has evolved, exercise physiologists have come to the conclusion that one doesn’t have to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits of interval training – just about anyone can – which is great news for those of us who are short on time. So, if you’re interested in more fitness in less time, read on…
What is interval training?
It’s a way to more efficiently increase fitness by alternating short bursts of exercise with slower, recovery segments, versus spending hours plodding along on a treadmill or bike.
What’s in it for me?
The benefits are pretty impressive, starting with more increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness, faster fat loss, shorter workouts, fewer overuse injuries and a lot less boredom. Sounds good, eh?
Whether you’re a regular exerciser or relative newbie, check with your doctor first to make sure you are a good candidate for interval training. Most people are, but those with heart or blood pressure concerns should discuss the approach with their physician. Once you’ve got doc’s OK, you’re ready to begin interval training, which though it may sound fancy, is surprisingly simple. In a nutshell, you alternate moderate exercise with short bursts of intense exercise.
As you’re starting out, keep in mind that as with most things, one size doesn’t fit all, so if you need to lengthen the slower segments and tailor the high intensity bursts to adapt to your current level of fitness, by all means do so. Over time as you improve, you can ramp up the intensity and adjust the intervals to match your improving fitness level.
Time to Train
To get started, try this easy-to-follow routine, which will (in addition to the fitness benefits) help get you in and out of the gym in less than an hour – including post the workout shower!
— WARM UP: Start with 5 minutes at your usual slow-to-to moderate pace on the treadmill, elliptical machine, outdoor track, bike or in the pool, to give your muscles a chance to warm-up.
— Slowly raise the intensity/your speed to a moderately fast pace and stay at that pace for about 1 minute.
— Take your pace back down to a more comfortable level and maintain it for 2 minutes.
— Next head back up to your moderately fast pace and hold it for 1 minute.
— Drop back down to your comfortable pace and stay there for 3-to-5 minutes.
— And repeat! If you’re just starting out, try doing the interval combo 1-3 times per workout
— If you’re already in good shape, you can add more reps, or shorten the recovery segments to increase the intensity of your faster intervals.
–COOL DOWN: Finish with a 5-minute cool down, hit the shower and go back to your busy day!