My Favorite Interval Training Workout

Is there a better, faster way to get in shape? Interval training might be the answer!  Photo by  Renee Fisher  on  Unsplash

Is there a better, faster way to get in shape? Interval training might be the answer!

Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

My Favorite Interval Training Workout

I got a message from a friend the other day. She had listened to my podcast about exercise and was questioning what to do for interval training and how to fit it into her already-busy training schedule. I really love it when friends and followers give me good suggestions for content and posts!

Since I write a lot about food and dieting (mostly not dieting), and this weekend is a holiday, I figured it was a good time to keep things light and write another exercise post. Happy Independence Day…now you have a new workout to try!

What is interval training?

Before you scroll down to the workout, it might be helpful to understand what interval training is. Interval training, sometimes called high intensity interval training, is a workout where you alternate back and forth between hard work and easy work. It may also include alternating between different activities.

An interval training workout alternates between different kinds of exercise and intensities.  Photo by  Meghan Holmes  on  Unsplash

An interval training workout alternates between different kinds of exercise and intensities.

Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash

What are the benefits of interval training?

Shorter workouts, more free time. Most interval training workouts last between 15 and 30 minutes, making them ideal for busy people. But don’t let this fool you into believing interval training is necessarily the easy route. The reason you can reap more benefits from a shorter workout is because interval training workouts are hard.

Superior way to burn fat compared to traditional cardio. The workout itself burns a lot of calories, but it’s the after effect that really matters. During traditional long-distance cardio, your calorie burn is elevated during the exercise…but once you’re done, your metabolism goes back to normal. Interval training torches plenty of calories during the session…but the real beauty is that your metabolism remains elevated for up to 24 hours after!

Healthier heart. Studies on interval training show enormous cardiovascular benefits. In fact, interval training may improve heart health faster than traditional cardio.

Fewer overuse injuries. Any long-distance runner or cyclist will tell you that the repetitive motion of these activities can cause muscular imbalance, pain, and injury. Shorter and more varied workouts keep your body healthier.

Increased endurance. If you are a competitive athlete and really want to increase your endurance, add intervals. When I was competing in triathlons, I considered interval training my “secret weapon”. Even if you’re not competitive and enjoy more low-key activities like hiking or kayaking, interval training will boost your endurance for climbing hills or paddling against the wind. Or, for us moms and dads, interval training can make it easier to chase down your toddler.

Reduces workout boredom and burnout. Everyone loves to run for hours and hours and hours on an indoor treadmill. Not. If you struggle with workout boredom, you’ll love interval training. Switching back and forth between exercises and intensities makes the workout time seem to go faster.

If you love long-distance running, that’s great…but most people don’t and it can be hard on your body. Interval training can stave off boredom and injuries.  Photo by  Stage 7 Photography  on  Unsplash

If you love long-distance running, that’s great…but most people don’t and it can be hard on your body. Interval training can stave off boredom and injuries.

Photo by Stage 7 Photography on Unsplash

Why I love interval training

Cardio bores me to tears and it’s hard on my body. I do not have the patience to log endless boring miles on my bike or treadmill, and I can no longer run for miles on end without having tendon and joint problems. Top that off with the fact that Ohio’s winters are not conducive to exercising outdoors, which means I’m stuck on soul-sucking stationary cardio equipment. Interval training solves all of these problems for me. Shorter workouts and the constant switching back and forth between training types keeps my mind engaged and protects my body from overuse injuries.

My favorite interval training workout (of the moment)

Another great thing about interval training is that you can get really creative with your workouts. This interval workout is my favorite of the moment. But the second I get bored, I switch it up. For example, instead of doing the 30-second sprints on my stationary bike, I’ll jump rope for 30 seconds. Or I’ll swap in different core exercises. If the ground is dry (maybe not this year), I will sometimes even take this workout to the park and do 30 second running sprints interspersed with core exercises.

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The interval training core exercises

In the three videos below, I demonstrate the core exercises listed in the workout above. If these core exercises are too advanced, or if they are not appropriate due to a health condition or injury, you can easily swap most any core exercise you like. For the high intensity cardio portion of the workout, I typically use my stationary cycle set to a high resistance. I like the bike for this workout because it’s low impact. However, if you don’t have a stationary bike, you can perform any type of exercise that raises your heart rate quickly. Jumping jacks, jumping rope, running sprints, running in place, jumping on a trampoline, and running up and down stairs are all cardiovascular in nature.

Interval training notes and tips

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program! Interval training is great for healthy adults and can improve heart and lung health. But interval training can be dangerous for an untrained individual, or anyone with a heart condition or related health problems.

  • The workout above is an advanced interval training workout. However, you can easily alter the intensity by modifying the type of exercises, the times of the intervals, or the number of rounds you complete.

  • Suggestions on making the workout more beginner-friendly: reduce the cardio interval time to 15 seconds; complete fewer repetitions of the core exercises; complete fewer rounds: start with four rounds instead of six.

  • Suggestions on making the workout more advanced (for the workout masochists in the back): Increase the cardio interval time to 45 or 60 seconds; complete more repetitions of the core exercises; complete more rounds: try eight or ten rounds instead of six; add an additional cardio and core segment.

  • The 30-second cardio interval should be hard. Not so hard that you can’t finish the 30 seconds, but your heart should be pumping and you should be breathing hard. On a scale of 1 to 10, your cardio interval should feel like an 8 or 9. If you feel like you could have done an extra 15 or 20 seconds, you went too easy.

  • Go easy on yourself. I just got done telling you that the intervals should be hard, right? But, if you are a beginner, the fastest way to hate interval training is to go balls-to-the-wall the first time you do this workout! If you are new to this type of training, go easy for the first few sessions!

  • Rest when needed…but as little as possible for the entire workout. About midway through this workout, I typically take a 15 to 20 second break, but otherwise I try to keep moving from one exercise and one round to the next without stopping. It’s hard…but that’s why interval training is so effective and you don’t have to do it for an hour.

  • Time yourself. See how long it takes you to get through the workout. The next time you complete the workout, see if you can complete it faster. This is a great way to tell if your fitness level is improving.

  • Only perform interval training workouts two or three times per week. Interval training is similar to weight training. You can get great results, but it is a stress on the body and your body will need plenty of rest. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you are combining interval training with other kinds of training, you need to be even more careful!

  • Skip interval training if you’re getting sick or feeling really run down. Too many trainers leave out this bit of advice. For the reasons listed in the previous tip, interval training can reduce immune function in an already-compromised system.

 Let me know what you think of interval training!

I’d love to hear from you! Did you try this workout? What did you think? Did you make modifications? Will you be brave enough to do it again?

Need help fitting interval training into your existing workout program? Or, maybe you’re a beginner needing guidance on getting started. I’d love to see if we can work together to get you on the right path! Set up a consultation with me today!


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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer

Learn more about the author here.