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How to Amp Up Your Workout!

09.27.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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WOW's Weekly Fitness Tip: Interval Training

Tired of endlessly pounding away during your regular cardio session? Turn up the heat with interval training! Becky Johnson, a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Ashburn, Virginia, is contributing this week's fitness tip on interval training - mixing up high intensity bursts of training with lower intensity intervals of active recovery.

It's a quick way to get fit, lose fat, and amp up your metabolism. Enjoy!

What is interval training?

Interval training is a method where you increase and decrease the intensity of your workout, switching between aerobic and anaerobic training. Interval training consists of pushing your body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments, and then returning to your aerobic conditioning level. The aerobic system is the one that allows you to walk or run for several miles. The anaerobic system, on the other hand, draws energy from carbohydrates stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity, such as sprinting.

Will interval training help me lose weight?

Yes, it can. Intervals will improve your aerobic fitness level so that you can work harder and burn more calories (given the same amount of time and/or distance). As your fitness level improves, you will also burn more fat, partially because you will be able to workout longer and harder!

What kind of equipment can I use?

Interval training can be performed on a variety of equipment. While the treadmill and elliptical are the most common, you can try it on your bike or in spin class on a stationary bike. Turn your walk around the neighborhood into an interval session. Stair climbs are also a way to switch up your routine, or you can even try it in the pool while doing laps.

Even circuit training can be considered interval training. Spend 30 seconds to 1 minute at a machine or doing a resistance exercise and then move quickly to the next station. As you switch from one station to the next, your heart rate will drop until you start working again at the next exercise.

What is a sample interval program?

Always start with a warm-up that is slower than your normal speed. Then, find a base mph that is slightly above the warm-up speed. This will be the speed you come back to for recovery periods. The length of the intervals can vary. One minute is a good starting point, although beginners can start at 30 seconds. If you are more advanced, you can make it 2 minutes. The goal is to keep the recovery period as short as possible but still allow your body enough time to recover. The more fit you get, the quicker you will recover and the shorter your recovery time will be. Here is a sample interval workout:

Warm-up for 10 minutes at 3.0 mph (gradually increase the setting to 4.5 mph)
Run for 1 min at 4.5 mph
Recover for 1 min at 3.5 mph
Run for 1 min at 5.0 mph
Recover for 1 min at 3.5 mph
Run for 1 min at 5.5 mph
Recover for 1 min at 3.5 mph
Continue to increase the speed at each interval and repeat this pattern for 10-20 minutes.
Cool down for 10 min at 3.0 mph

Speed can be increased or decreased to suit your individual fitness level. Aim for 1-2 interval session per week, but give yourself 2-3 days of rest for recovery after each session as intervals are intense and should not be performed back to back days.

Just remember to monitor your intensity and have fun. By switching up your interval routine, you will never do the same workout twice.

Bye, bye cardio boredom....Hello fit new body!!

Becky Johnson received her personal training certification from the American Council on Exercise and nutrition coach certification from the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaching. She believes that by fueling your body with the right foods, creating a healthy lifestyle and incorporating exercise, you can have a tremendous impact on your health and wellness.

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