Have you heard the buzz about interval training, and you’re wondering, “What exactly is it, and how do I know if it’s right for me?” If this is you, read on: I spill the beans here!
What is Interval Training?
In the most basic sense, interval training is a workout that involves various speeds or degrees of effort. You can incorporate interval training into both cardio and strength workouts, and you can do it at home, in a gym, or outside. There are so many ways to incorporate this super-efficient training modality into your exercise regime.
5 Reasons to Start Interval Training
(1) It’s efficient
When you vary your intensity throughout your workout, you get a better cardiovascular benefit in a shorter amount of time. Just be sure to keep your heart rate elevated for the majority of your workout.
(2) It revs up your metabolism
Not only are you able to burn more calories and get more cardiovascular benefit during your workout, but with interval training, your metabolism stays elevated after the workout, giving you an “after-burn” effect, where you burn more calories throughout the day.
(3) It can help you bust through a plateau
If you’re in the process of losing weight (side note: way to go!), you will most likely come to a point where your progress stalls. There are a few reasons for this, but one of them is that your body is smart! It has caught on to what you’ve been doing and figured out a way to create the energy you need to get through the day while holding on to your precious energy stores (read: the fat you’re trying to lose). At this stage, you need to switch things up – shock your system, if you will. If you’ve been doing steady-state cardio, where your heart rate stays in the same zone for a while, then adopting intervals into your workout is the perfect shock your body needs.
(4) It helps build endurance
During Interval training, your heart rate will fluctuate quite a bit. You’ll push yourself harder than you could if you were doing a steady-state workout. You can do this because your extra effort is for a shorter period. Over time, this additional stress on your cardiovascular system leads to better endurance.
(5) Your workout will fly by
Which sounds more doable: 30 minutes of [fill in the blank] type of cardio, or six 5-minute intervals? Psychologically, knowing you only have to do six intervals seems so much easier to accomplish than one “long” 30-minute workout. I’ll take the interval training cardio workout (almost) every time.
How do I do it?
At this point, I hope I’ve convinced you to at least give interval training a try. If you’re ready to give it a shot, here is my FAVORITE treadmill workout, followed by modifications for doing this on a track or other flat land. If you run outside and live in an area with hills (or choose to run bleachers), you’re already doing interval training cardio workouts!
My go-to interval training treadmill workout
2 minutes: Walk on the steepest incline your treadmill has as fast as you can without holding on to the handrails
2 minutes: Run as fast as you can on a 1% incline
1 minute: Walk at the same pace as your first 2 minutes on a 3% incline
Repeat 5-6 times, and then walk for 5 minutes at the same walking pace as above on a 5% incline to cool down.
Modifications for an outdoor interval training workout
2 minutes: Walking lunges
2 minutes: Run as fast as you can
1 minute: Walk at a brisk pace
Cardio workouts are an essential part of an overall healthy lifestyle. If you’ve been inactive, I suggest you start slowly, give yourself grace, and build up to these workouts. If you’ve been active, I hope you give these workouts a try. If you do, let me know what you think in the comments!
If you’re just starting out on your health journey, please realize I didn’t get here overnight. To learn more about my story and some tips on getting started and staying successful, check out: