There is no shortage of different ideas about how to improve your fitness.  This means you can find the regime that works just right.  Currently, a popular fitness regime is known as interval training where you alternate periods of high intensity exercise with low intensity recovery periods.  But would this system work for you?

Interval training basics

Interval training can be adapted to many different types of exercise.  Runners, for example, use spells of fast running with periods of slower running to adopt an interval training style approach.  The idea is that the recovery period is very important and allows your body that little break between the high intensity periods.  It also trains the body to go faster during those high intensity spells and this increases stamina and overall fitness.

Health benefits of this kind of training are likened to that of longer duration, moderate intensity aerobic exercise.  It can help lower the risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

It can also be a good way to lose weight as, during the high intensity period, the body burns mainly carbs for energy but then burns fat during the low intensity periods to create more fuel.  This process can also continue for a number of hours after the exercise which makes it great for losing weight.

Ideas for interval training

Interval training can be tough when you first start out and it is important to spend a few weeks building up your stamina – cardio workouts can be a good way to do this before adding the full interval training.  But here are some ideas of what to do to adopt it to your exercise regime.

Cardio blaster

This involves a 15-minute warm up then either run, bike or row for 3 minutes at around 90-95% of your maximum heart rate.  Have 3 minutes recovery moving at an easy pace and repeat this in a pattern 3-4 times.  Finish with a 10-minute cool down.  This is great for strengthening your heart and boosting the cardiovascular system.

Speed play

Warm up for 15 minutes, add a couple of 20 second bursts at the end.  Run, bike or row for 30 seconds at 95% effort.  Take 3 minutes recovery time.  Repeat 5-6 times and finish with a 10-minute cooldown.  This is ideal for toning legs, core and glutes as well as increasing muscle power and is also a very short routine.

When to do interval training

Interval training isn’t something that you do every day.  They are hard work and you need to give your body time to recover between the bouts or you can risk injury.  You will also become too tired and lose motivation.

One example of a week schedule would be where you run three days a week.  Set aside one of those for interval training.  This gives your body time to recover before another normal session and reduces the risk of injury while getting the full benefits of the interval training.