Interval Training Workouts: The Smart Way To Do Cardio

CoachMel Exercise 15 Comments

Are you stuck in an exercise rut?

Do you go to the gym and do the same old boring cardio session day after day after day?

It’s easy to become comfortable with an exercise routine, but the standard cardio-type routine can become tedious, and they don’t produce great results either.

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So, let me introduce you to hottest form of cardio around — interval training.

I’m a recent convert, and I’m not going back to the old days any time soon!

What is interval training?

Interval training will have you performing an exercise at an extremely high pace, for a period of thirty to sixty seconds, and then backing off for an active rest period, that’s twice as long. Sounds good, right?

The idea is that you alternate between these work and rest periods, forming a total of six to ten intervals, to make up the workout session.

You’ll also want to add in a brief five minute warm-up at the beginning of the workout, along with a good five minute cool-down at the very end.

5 reasons interval training workouts are so beneficial:

#1 Your metabolism goes through the roof

Interval training workouts are becoming popular with those trying to lose weight, because they help to boost overall metabolic rate.

So, not only will you burn more calories while you’re doing the workout session, but you’ll continue to burn calories for hours after it has been completed.

This makes the slog worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Since this ups your overall daily calorie burn, it can, over time, mean you reach lower levels of body fat, helping you attain your long-term goals faster.

#2 You boost your fitness level

Interval training workouts are a fast way to improve your fitness level. They make the body work at such a hard pace (albeit for a short burst of time), and this really ups the ability of the muscles to utilize oxygen during exercise.

If you push hard enough during those sprint intervals, you won’t even be fully utilizing oxygen any longer, and instead the exercise will become more anaerobic in nature (performed without the use of oxygen).

What does that mean? Well, it can improve the ability of your body to withstand fatigue at other times when you workout. This is a nice transfer-over benefit to your entire workout routine throughout the week.

Do note however, that since these cardio sessions are so intense and demanding on the body, you shouldn’t aim to perform them on a daily basis.

Aim for two to three sessions per week along with your usual strength training program.

#3 You add firmness and definition

Unlike steady state cardio, which can actually lead to loss of muscle mass, interval cardio helps build muscle.

Since you generate force and power when performing interval workouts, it goes a long way towards helping you look leaner and more defined — who doesn’t want to look a little more athletic? Interval training is the best way achieve that.

#4 You beat boredom

My favorite reason for adding interval cardio to your workout program is that it helps beats the boredom bug. Constantly changing the pace you work at, going from very fast to much slower, really helps to break up the time.

Also, because the workout is so intense, the sessions last only fifteen to twenty minutes, so it’s over before you know it.

#5 It’s easy for you to implement
With interval training, you don’t need any special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine.

This means you can get started right away!

How to get started with interval training workouts

Before you start thinking, “Phew, I could never do that!” let me say that interval training can be used with any activity, such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc. Or, if you go to the gym, interval training can be used there too.

Also, you don’t need to be super fit to do this, beginners are welcome!

Here’s a standard interval training workout from Men’s Health, but it’s also suitable for women.

Alternate the same period of low intensity with the same period of higher intensity.

Taking jogging as an example:

  • 3 – 5 minutes warm-up (light jog, low intensity, gradually increasing at the end of the warm-up period)
  • 1 minute moderate or high intensity, followed by 1 minute low intensity (repeat 6 – 8 times)
  • 3 – 5 minutes cool-down (light jog, low intensity, gradually decreasing by the end of the cool-down period)

Or, you could try this pyramid variation, which allows you to start with short bursts of speed, you’ll peak at the longest surge of energy in the middle of your workout, before coming back down.

  • 3 – 5 minutes warm-up
  • 30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 60 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 90 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 60 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 3 – 5 minutes cool-down

I highly recommend using the Gymboss timer for your interval training workouts. This is what I use, and I can honestly say it is second to none.

Get your own Gymboss here.

Does interval training have risks?
As with most exercises, interval training isn’t suitable for everyone.

If you have a serious health condition, or you haven’t been exercising regularly, have a chat with your doctor before trying any type of interval training.

If exercise is new to you, it’s a good idea to begin slowly, perhaps with just one session of higher intensity intervals per week at first. And, if you think you’re overdoing it at any stage, slow down a bit.

Then, as your stamina builds, challenge yourself to vary the pace. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you see results with this type of training.

Can you see yourself making the switch over to interval training workouts? If you’ve already got the bug, share your story or routine in the comments section below…

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Comments 15

    1. Melanie

      Do you have a home gym? It’s great if you can exercise at home, I think you’re so much more likely to stick with it.

  1. notmensa

    I’ve grown to love the Cardio Coach interval workouts:
    Mostly I use a cross trainer for my workouts, though sometimes I use a stationary bike. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my fitness through doing intervals over regular cardio training.

    1. Melanie

      I just checked out CardioCoach… I love it. I think this could work so well for people, myself included! Thanks for sharing that link.

  2. Cathy in NZ

    When I was going to a Gym they are had special Interval circuit area…with a lot of different machines and things.

    It had a timer/buzzer that meant that you did something for xyz minutes and then you got off/on whatever was the next thing in your plan and did that…there was a stationary bike mode where I think you did double timer. It was quite fun because you were either folllowing someone else or you were working through it on your own….

    Currently, I am not exercising regularily because of problems I’m having with my chronic health issues and although I’m not as fit as i would like to be, weight is not going on…through careful food intake levels!
    .-= Cathy in NZ´s last blog ..Classes finished but still 1000s of words to GO! =-.

  3. Norman Rogers

    Another word for “interval training” is “PANIC!”

    If you can get through the day and only panic seven or eight times, you’re doing quite well. One panic attack can give you a real jump start on fitness and health.
    .-= Norman Rogers´s last blog ..Cut the Salt Any Way You Can =-.

  4. Bebe

    So do Rotary clubs in drag, that pass for Christian churches.

    The desire to cross-dress or change sexes can be due.

    See the master of cool speak- Andy Warhol, talk and say nothing.

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