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Facts on Interval Training

By Andrea Boldt ; Updated January 22, 2018

Interval Training is the Miracle Exercise

If there is a magic way to work out, this is it. It's adaptable to all levels, exceptionally useful for losing weight, boosting performance and gaining strength. And takes less time. The concept of HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training is simple. Switch back and forth between explosive bursts of increased intensity and active rest. Athletes have used it for years to improve endurance. Bodybuilders use it almost exclusively during a cutting phase before competition. You can use it to just plain look good in your skinny jeans in less time.

Keep it Short and Sweaty

Ever read a book on a bike at the gym? Well, forget it. The concept is simple but the execution of it is hard. Unfortunately, if you're doing it right, the first time can run the gamut from a desire to run into the bathroom and throw up, to extreme shock at what you've just experienced. Interval training has shown in controlled studies to increase cardiovascular capacity and protect lean body mass better than longer, slower workouts. The workout should only be 20 to 25 minutes besides a short 5 to 10 minute warm-up. The good news is, you won't be bored and your benefit will be greater than if you had spent an hour or two just jogging or walking.

King of the Treadmill

You can do interval training with any cardiovascular equipment. Walk for a short time to warmup for a treadmill workout. If you are fit already, you can alternate between a slight sprint and jogging every 2 minutes. You can also increase and decrease the incline to make the burst intervals more intense if you don't like to run very fast. The key is to not completely rest between the high output minutes. You should be starting your next interval of intensity just before you start to recover. Other cardiovascular workouts you might consider are stair steppers, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and jump roping.

Pump it up Interval Style

Circuit train your weights routine to maximize your fatigue. You'll probably have to lower your weight expectation for interval exercise. A good workout for legs would be a rotation of squats, leg extensions, weighted lunges and calf raises. Use pyramid repetitions. Do 10 to 15 repetitions with lighter weight, 6 to 10 with moderate weight and then 3-5 with your maximum weight. Repeat 3 times around the circuit. Here's the kicker. Don't rest for more than 60 seconds between reps and don't rest for more than 2 minutes between each set.

Interval Training in the Great Outdoors

You can adapt interval training to hiking, trail running, jogging and swimming. Just keep the same principle of bursts of energy with periods of working recovery. It's a little harder to achieve consistency outside but if you choose hilly terrain, it's easier to modify. Running sprints across a large area of grass works well and is easy on your joints.

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