Put Some Pep in Your Step… Exercise of the Week: Intervals

Are you ready to shake up your work out routine? Looking for that thing that will burn more calories in a shorter period of time? Well do I have the thing for you… Interval Training!

Interval training improved my running time, what could it do for you?

I was first introduced to intervals when I started to run half marathons in 2009. My first time training, I was more concerned with finishing so I really focused on long runs.  However one of my favorite trainers at Ultimate Bootcamp suggested I start to do more interval training. Thank goodness I listened! At my next half marathon I shaved a minute off of each of my miles, for a 13 minute improvement in my time! (for those who are not big race runners, a minute is a big deal!!)  Even more important, was during that race I felt unstoppable! All this thanks to intervals.

However you don’t need to be a runner or competitive athlete to use interval training, it is great for people just starting to walk or a gym goer who feels like he has hit a plateau. My clients love to use this method because they see quicker results and they find their inner althelte!

What is Interval Training? 

Interval training is taking your usual exercise routine and adding periods of high intensity effort, followed by moderate/low intensity effort (also know as the recovery phase). These ‘sets’ of high and low intensities are repeated. Interval training works both the aerobic (with oxygen) and the anaerobic system (without oxygen). Research published April, 2011 in the American Journal of Human Biology reveals that high intensity exercise is more beneficial than traditional endurance training. However how many of us can do high intensity efforts longer than a minute or two?  That is why intervals are perfect. They allow you to do more minutes of high intensity exercise, so you get more bang for you buck!

Benefits of Interval Training:

(1)  You will burn more calories! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you will burn more calories in short, high intensity exercise.  If you are counting calories, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than long, slow endurance exercises.

(2) Your calorie burn will last longer. After high intensity work outs your body will burn calories up to 48 hours.

(3) You will improve your aerobic capacity. Doing intervals 3 times per week, your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity.

(4) You will increase your speed. It trains your body to extend the anaerobic capacity so that you can move faster and longer.

(5) Fitness and performance improves quickly. The sign of fitness is NOT how quick you can sprint/swim/bike etc, it is how quickly you can recover (catch your breath and see your heart rate decrease) after each high intensity effort.

(6) It keeps you engaged and it is FUN! You’ll find that competitive side of yourself (that maybe you have not seen in a while) will creep out! You will start to compete with yourself, for better times, faster pace, quicker recovery.

How to do it? 

Intervals can be done in many combinations. On a treadmill or piece of equipment at a gym, swimming in a pool, spin class, bootcamps, on a track, using a recumbent bike or just walking around the block. Intervals also can be a combination of cardio bursts and resistance training. There are hundreds of ways to add intervals into your exercise routine.

I have developed 2 programs to get you started:

(1) Interval Training is a beginner program for those who walk, run,bike, swim or use the elliptical.

(2) Resistance Exercise with Cardio Burst is a program that uses basic resistance exercise  in combination with cardio burst, a simple plan that can be done at home.

In addition to the work outs above there are great resources out there for developing interval programs on your own. Check out Shape Magazine and Men’s Health  resource for creating an interval program that suite your needs.

My Challenge for you this week is to add interval training into your exercise routine at least twice a week. You’ll find that you have some pep in your step!

More Health and Fitness News & Tips at Greatist.

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2 Responses to Put Some Pep in Your Step… Exercise of the Week: Intervals

  1. Howard says:

    Hey Kerri,
    Any ideas how I can add intervals to my Nordic-walking routines which i do 3-5 times a week, or whether I should in the 1st place? I don’t think I’m ready to add it to my gym visits.

    Typically, I maintain a “15 min. mile” pace whether it’s 4 miles, 9 or even longer. That’s just what the legs do!! When I’m doing more than 9 miles (e.g., 12 or the upcoming 20-mile Walk for Hunger), I’ll take a break about every 6-7.5 miles, stretch and have a smoothie and an energy snack. Does that count as an interval? My threshold concern about inserting intervals is that timimg segments and/or measuring my heart rate will spoil my enjoyment of the process — I just take off and “lose” it, whether listening to my music or just zoning out. I do alter my stride based upon what’s playing (e.g. long strides for something like Jimmy Smith’s “The Sermon” or the Dead’s “Estimated Prophet” and a race-walking gate for salsa) but these changes occur at at best only at intervals greater than 5-10 minutes during a 2 + hr walk. Just fagetaboutit??

    Your thoughts??

  2. Howard, First off amazing job with your walking. I think a perfect solution for someone in your case is to use music on your long walk to set change up your pace. My having various tempos of songs you can speed up and slow down during long walks. You will get the best of both worlds, completing your long walks and adding intervals to help with speed! Share with us how this goes! There are a lot of great research on how music helps with endurance and some other pretty cool things as well… http://www.livestrong.com/article/211379-effects-of-music-on-exercise/

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