Interval Training

Cardio training on treadmill
By Susan Patton, Personal TrainerAre you suffering through long steady bouts on the treadmill?  Have you found yourself falling asleep on the elliptical as your body goes into auto pilot?  Let me tell you something, if you’re bored, so is your body! Time to look and feel alive, inside and out with interval training.Interval training consists of short burst of high intensity followed by a recovery period.  The process is repeated throughout the duration of the total workout, which should always first include a low intensity warm-up period of about 5 minutes and a cool-down period of 5 about minutes.You may only be able to start out doing about 10 minutes of interval training, with your warm-up and cool down, may only add up to 20 minutes total.  And if you’re used to putting in something like 60 minutes, this may seem like you’re cheating yourself.  This is most certainly not the case.  In most areas of fitness, it is the quality of the workout, not the quantity.  Say your boss gave you 4 hours of work to do and you got it done in 2 hours? That would make you pretty effective and efficient (and perhaps invite some snide remarks from your co-workers.)  It’s essentially the same idea in fitness. You can get the same, and perhaps more, benefit from a high intensity 20 minute workout as you can from a lackluster 60 minute workout.  Interval training is one way to achieve this efficiency.Since everyone’s maximum intensity levels differ, you should gauge yourself on a rating scale of 1 – 10: 1 being almost at rest, 5 at a jog and 10 at a full out sprint.  After your warm up, bring your self up to about a 7 for 15 – 30 seconds, then back down to a 5 for a minute or 2.  Repeat this process for 10 minutes then begin a cool down.  As time progresses and you become more fit, increase the intensity of your maximum interval as well as the duration, decrease the amount of recovery and increase the total time for the intervals beyond 10 minutes.Yes, you will feel uncomfortable for those 15 – 30 seconds, and it’s impossible to expect you to endure a workout of substantial time, too far removed from your comfort zone. But, you can’t increase your fitness without bringing yourself out of your comfort zone for a period of time.  That’s the beauty of intervals.  You’re only out of your comfort zone for a limited amount of time.  And in that time, you begin to allow your body to reach a new level and increase your lung capacity.  As you do that, you also increase your body’s capability and efficiency for processing oxygen, a must have for your muscles!And just think, if you don’t have to spend 60 minutes on the treadmill anymore that leaves you more time to get out on the gym floor and build some lean muscle, your body’s number 1 defense against body fat! (See Cardio vs. Strength Training).

So next time you see the person next to you jack up the intensity and make all that noise for 30 seconds or so, they aren’t crazy, they’re interval training! Stay healthy my friends!

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