Add Spice to Your Workout
by Lynn Bode
There's been a lot of buzz recently about Interval
Training. So, you may be wondering what it really
is and, more importantly, why you should incorporate
it in your fitness workouts. If you want a workout
that can help propel you to the next fitness
level, burn more calories, increase your speed,
improve your power and more, then it's time
to learn more about this effective technique.
Here's a simple definition of Interval Training:
short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated
with periods of rest. These higher and lower
intensity periods are repeated several times
to form a complete workout. For example, walk
for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH, walk for 1 minute
at 4.2 MPH and then repeat this sequence several
Most people spend their workout time only performing
continuous training exercises. These are exercises
where the intensity level is basically constant
throughout. An example of this is walking at
3.5 MPH at 0% incline for 30 minutes.
Continuous training is very effective and should
not be eliminated from your weekly workouts.
However, it's recommended that you include both
Interval Training and continuous training sessions
as part of your fitness regimen.
Benefits of Interval Training
Why should you include Interval Training?
Interval Training can help you improve cardiovascular
fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic
power, burn more calories, break-through a plateau,
increase workout duration, reach new exercise
levels, expand your workout options and increase
your workout threshold - just to name a few.
Interval Training Techniques
This training method has useful applications
for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even
conditioned athletes. There are two basic types
of Interval Training. For the majority of exercisers
(novices and intermediate) Fitness Interval
Training methods are recommended. Athletes can
choose a more advanced technique known as Performance
The Fitness training method utilizes periodic
increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity
levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and
are followed by lower-intensity periods that
also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical
element in Fitness Interval Training is determining
the appropriate level for the higher-intensity
periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic
threshold (which is usually reached below 85%
heart rate reserve).
On the flip side, the Performance training
technique involves periods of near maximal or
even maximal intensity (e.g. >85% heart rate
reserve - even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity
levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration
and are followed by lower-intensity periods
that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.
Don't let the two types of training and their
ranges confuse you. Incorporating Interval Training
methods into your exercise routine is actually
quite easy. Since the majority of exercisers
fall into either the beginner or intermediate
category, we'll focus on getting started with
Incorporating Interval Training Into Your
To begin, choose the type of exercise: walking,
jogging, swimming, biking, etc. Next determine
your lower-intensity level. This is usually
somewhere between 50-65% target heart rate.
This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity.
Then simply increase the intensity-level up
to where you feel like you are working hard
to very hard, but avoid reaching a level over
85% of your target heart rate. If monitoring
your heart is not feasible, instead use the
RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10
is working extremely hard. For example, if you
find that when you are exercising at a comfortable
level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for
the higher-intensity intervals.
You may choose to systematically raise and
lower your intensity (e.g. 2 minutes lower intensity
followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat)
or you can alternate more randomly by raising
and lowering the level at your discretion. To
increase your intensity, you may choose to change
the speed, incline, or some other variable.
Interval Training can be especially helpful
in situations where you are trying a new form
of exercise. For example, this can be very beneficial
when first learning to jog. If you attempt to
jog continuously without building up to it,
you will probably fatigue quickly and even give
up. However, if you begin with intervals of
walking interspersed with jogging periods, the
workout will be much more enjoyable and effective.
Also, you will be more likely to stick with
the program and achieve the end result - continuous
Now that you know the benefits of Interval
Training and the basic techniques for it, why
not give it a try for yourself? Not only will
it provide health benefits and improved fitness
levels but it is also a great way to avoid workout
boredom. Plus, with Interval Training workouts
often are more enjoyable, go by quicker, and
improvement results come faster. So why not
try spicing up a stale, run-of-the-mill workout
with Interval options? You may even find yourself
excelling in an activity you were skeptical
of even trying.
Lynn Bode is a certified personal
trainer specializing in Internet-based fitness
programs. She founded Workouts For You, which
provides affordable online exercise programs
that are custom designed for each individual.
for a free sample workout. Fitness professionals
take your business online, visit: http://www.trainerforce.com