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The Benefits of Interval Training

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Do you want to get into shape fast?

Do you want an effective workout you can do in a short amount of time?

Do you want to feel exhilarated when you finish your workout?

If you answered yes to these three questions, then interval training is the workout for you. Interval training is cardiovascular exercise that combines short bursts of intense cardio alternated with easy-does-it periods of rest. It can be done with any workout that gets your heart rate up, and since it’s so hot outside right now, any cardiovascular machine—like a treadmill, stationary bike, or an elliptical trainer—you can find at the gym will work out just fine.

I’ve been an advocate of interval training for many years and really believe it is the best way to get fit in a short amount of time. Here’s how I structure an interval workout for my clients:

  • Warm-up. Start with a cardiovascular warm-up for five minutes (you pick the exercise that will get your heart rate going). During this time, you should be able to talk but not carry on full conversations.
  • Full steam. Ramp up your exercise activity to your maximum ability for 30 seconds. Your heart rate should be at a level that you are not able to talk.
  • Recovery. Take a period of rest for 30 seconds. If you’re a beginner, take a 60-second recovery period. Your heart rate should go down to 100–110 beats per minute during this period.
  • Repeat with five to ten 30-second intervals of intense activity interspersed with 30- to 60-second periods of rest.
  • Cooldown. Finish up with five minutes of your exercise at a lower speed or lighter resistance level.

If you are just getting started in a workout routine and want to try interval training, be sure to warm up before starting intervals, set training goals that are within your ability, start slowly, and build the number of repetitions over time.

It’s important to keep a steady but challenging pace throughout the full-steam portions of the workout. The rest periods will allow you to recover, then push yourself again, which is great for improving endurance and improving your speed and strength in other cardiovascular exercises. Doing bursts of intense exercise not only improves cardiovascular fitness, but also the body’s ability to burn fat and calories in a shorter time period than other workout routines.

One of the reasons I enjoy interval training is how great it makes me feel. When you workout endorphins are produced in your brain in response to the exercise. Because interval training sends short bursts of intense activity to the brain, it really gets those endorphins pumping, leaving you with an amazing feeling the rest of your day.

The best part of interval training is that you get the benefits of exercise in a shorter amount of time. If you want to invest in your well-being, all you have to do is set aside 20 to 30 minutes three times per week and follow the routine outlined above. So, hang up those clothes hanging on your treadmill at home, get to work, and I guarantee that you will feel better and look better with about one hour of exercise per week!

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