We’ve all done it – gotten on a treadmill, elliptical, etc. and travelled along at the same pace for a long, long period of time with out adjusting any of our original settings. A lot of times this is the most simple for many reasons….we want to be in control of the machine, we don’t know what else to do or even that’s practically the only machine that seems available! Or maybe even we are trying to get the machine that is right by the TV because your show is on soon and you’re at least going to try to be productive instead of sitting on the couch! Kudos to you!
The problem we gradually face – usually in a short period of time – is we get bored. FAST. Or even lazy, especially if we are reading or watching TV. Pretty soon we find we are so bored that we do not have any desire to get onto that piece of equipment and continue plugging along towards our goals. So how do we keep this from happening? How can be make cardio not boring?!
There are so many ways to make cardio fun! Working it out with a friend by your side, taking your cardio outside if it is a nice day or even changing up the type of cardio machine – within the same workout – can all keep you interested. But there is another very successful other way to keep things interesting: interval training!
Now I’m willing to bet some of you just cringed big time! Interval training over the years sometimes has gotten a bad rap – mostly from people who push others too hard so they are afraid of trying it again. There’s always going to be that bad apple in every thing and I am here to let you know that interval training is a great way to help you reach your goals!
Before we get into how to actually do interval training, let’s take a quick look at why it is a better way to improve your fitness level. First, interval training forces your body to work at training the different types of energy expenditure. Without going all human physiology on you, let me explain that you have different ways that you utilize your energy in your muscles; three ways to be exact. When you are doing basic consistent cardio at the same pace, you are only training one of these energy sources. That one energy source, called aerobic, is the one that actually causes your body to maintain fat to a certain extent- because that’s how that system works. Running long distances requires fat stores for energy to run that long. There are two others: anaerobic threshold and anaerobic. When you train at these levels – which is the same a sprinter trains at – you actually keep less fat on your body. This is something people miss! Distance runners actually keep a higher percentage of fat on their body than sprinters because of how they train! Sprinters look super muscular, but that is because of how they are lifting; their body fat is significantly lower than distance runners.
The second point of interval training that is super cool stems from newer research that has come out recently about how interval training affects your metabolism. Interval training has been shown to raise your metabolism higher than regular, consistent cardio AND keep it higher for a longer period of time – up to 36 hours after your stop! Now if that isn’t a reason to try out interval training, I don’t know what is!
So here is how interval training works: after you warm up, you take a period of time to workout on that machine at a comfortable pace; say about 4 minutes. After that time period, ramp things up for a bit, say about one minute and challenge yourself. Once that minute is over, go back to that comfortable pace for another 4 minutes. Repeat that cycle until you reach a total of 30 minutes and then take about 5 minutes to cool down. You will accomplish more in that 30 minute period of time that a full hour at a consistent pace!
You can adjust the time as you see fit with this: maybe you want to workout at an easy pace for two minutes and then push yourself for 30 seconds. You can set the time however you want! Word of advice though: make sure you choose a time at a comfortable pace to allow recovery, but not a FULL recovery! You want to be challenging yourself while doing this workout. If your time at a comfortable pace is too long, you body will not improve as quickly.
Take the time to try this method out this week and let me know how it goes! I welcome questions and will be happy to help you out individually if you need advice! Have fun!