Interval training is alternating bursts of higher intensity activity with intervals of lighter activity.
Take walking. If you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks. If you want to be more scientific, time your intervals. Intervals can be any length you choose. Interval training can also include added resistance (i.e. walking uphill or more resistance on your elliptical).
What can interval training do for me?
Whether you are new to exercise or you've been exercising for years, interval training can help you jazz up your workout routine. Consider the benefits:
You will burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise the more calories you will burn— even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time.
You will improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity.
You will not be bored. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety and challenge to your exercise routine.
You don't need special equipment. You can easily modify your current routine.
Interval training can be used by everyone no matter age or fitness level. You can take it to many levels. If you just want to vary your exercise routine, you can determine the length and speed of each high-intensity interval based on how you feel that day. After warming up, you might increase the intensity for 30 seconds and then resume your normal pace. The next burst of more intense activity may last two to three minutes. How much you pick up the pace, how often and for how long is up to you.
If you're working toward a specific fitness goal, you may want to take a more scientific approach. A personal trainer can help you plan and time the intensity and duration of your intervals.
If you have a chronic health condition or haven't been exercising regularly, talk with your doctor before trying any type of interval training. Always start slowly. Try just one or two higher intensity intervals during each workout at first. If you think you're overdoing it, slow down. As your endurance improves, challenge yourself. You may be surprised by the results.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.
By: Janet Hunt