Interval Training

Interval training is a method I strongly believe in and recommend - I love it! Whatever your goals are – overall health, fat loss, or sports enhancement – it can be used - and it can get you there quicker than steady state cardio. 

interval training with sprints

It simply means doing higher intensity exercise followed by a recovery period, and then repeating. 

It is very flexible and can be customized for any fitness level, from beginner to hard core. 



I.T. varies from low intensity to super high, heart pounding, lung squeezing intensity!


Too good to be true?
Many give up exercise because it takes too much time and because they get bored. 

Most people have trudged through a steady state cardio session where you get your heart rate up to the “fat burning zone” and keep it there for 30, 45 or even 60 minutes.

What if I told you that you could work out LESS and get BETTER results? Yep…a quicker workout. In fact, it is fast enough that you don’t have time to get bored!


elliptical training

7    Benefits of Interval Training
•    Weight loss – Quicker weight loss because there is a longer after burn and increases your metabolism
•    Increased endurance – trains your body to better handle lactic acid
•    Quicker workouts
•    More fuel efficiency – trains your body to better process fats and carbs
•    Reduced risk of injury or overtraining – because of shorter workouts and changing up intensities
•    More fun
•    Because it’s a quicker workout, you are more likely to stick to it and not drop it because you are bored


If you can’t stick to a workout program, what good is it?


The After Burn Effect
To put it simply, you could do a long steady state aerobic exercise and burn a lot of calories.  Your body is still going to be burning calories for a little while afterwards.  Sounds great, right?  That’s old school!

A more intense aerobic exercise – like interval training – may not burn quite as many calories DURING the actual exercise, but your body will be burning a lot more calories, for a lot longer afterwards – THAT is the after-burn effect.

Interval training afterburn

How it works
What makes IT so effective is that the working intervals are done at a slightly higher intensity than you would be able to continue at a steady state. 

You are working harder but for a shorter period of time.  This pushes your body into “new territory” and forces your body to adapt!

Interval training

What does this have to do with losing weight?
Burning more overall calories is an obvious benefit! But it also “teaches” your body to be more efficient at using fat.

Brief intense activity seems to dump a lot of fat into the bloodstream. I think it’s to fuel recovery,” says Christopher Scott, Ph.D., who studies strength training and metabolism at the University of Southern Maine. 

The REAL fat burning is done during recovery AFTER the workout!

How to do it
Pick an exercise that uses a lot of muscles at one time and that can get your heart rate up. 

A cardio exercise like walking (for beginners), running, biking, rowing machines, elliptical machines, swimming, stair climbing are typical. 

Boxing, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises like burpees (squat thrusts) can also work.

Many brands of treadmills and other types of cardio machines have interval programs built into them that you can choose from - sometimes called "hill training".


Couple running on beach


Generally, you should be able to complete 20-30 minutes of steady state cardio 3 times per week before you begin progressing with intense intervals.


The recovery period between the intervals should not be complete rest, just a lower intensity – enough to stay moving and keep blood from pooling.


Components of Cardio Interval Training

  • Type of exercise
  • Intensity of the working interval
    intensity of the resting interval
  • Ratio of work/rest:  usually 1:2, 1:3 or 1:1 but can vary.
  • Number of cycles: varies 4 – 12 or more

    Examples: (1:2) 30 seconds jogging, 1 minute walk.     
    (1:1) 2 minutes fast row on a rowing machine, 2 minutes slow rowing.

If you are just starting out, you can adjust this to suit your fitness level. The secret is to make it challenging for YOU, and increasing the intensity as you become more fit. 

This can even be adapted to the most basic walking program on a treadmill...

Example: Walk at a speed of 2.5 for 1 minute; up it to 3.5 for 15 seconds, then slow it down to 2.5 for 1 minute. 


Do you think you are ready for High Intensity Interval Training?  Find out more about the ultimate cardio...where 4 minutes can seem like an hour!


Progressions can be made by:

  1. Increasing the length of the working phase
  2. Increasing the intensity of the working phase
  3. Decreasing the length of the recovery phase
  4. Increasing the number of cycles
  5. Increasing the frequency (how often during the week you do it)

Whether you are just starting an exercise routine to lose weight or if you are a seasoned exerciser trying to keep the weight off, interval training will get you there in less time!

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