Interval Training for All Fitness Levels

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Torch calories by watching the clock and varying your intensity level. Interval training is not just for advanced exercisers—beginners can do it, too. Keep reading to understand how you can use timing to achieve your best fitness results, and learn some great ways to use timing to your advantage.

I’ve explained in a previous post how interval training can be used as part of a fitness program for improving your activity level. It’s an extremely useful training method for helping you to burn calories at a higher rate than performing steady state training. The misconception with interval training is that only advanced exercisers do it. I’m here to tell you that it can be adjusted for any fitness level. Intervals are perfect for days when the duration of your exercise routine has to be short, or for days you want to increase your intensity level and calorie burn.

Athletes and non-athletes love to use timing and training intensity to manipulate the rise and fall of their exercise-induced heart rate. This pushes their bodies to use different energy systems for their routine. If you’re a beginner when it comes to interval training but like the sound of it, consider giving this method a try.

I’m here to help get you started with interval training. I’ll start by explaining how simple it is to make intervals a part of your current routine.

What is interval training?

Interval training is basically a training method where you use varied timing and varied intensity levels to push your body to use several energy systems.

Why should do you interval training?

Using timing and training intensity to manipulate the rise and fall of your exercise-induced heart rate allows you to push your body to use different energy sources for your routine. This can help to improve your performance and overall fitness level.

How do you implement interval training in your fitness routine?

The easiest way to get started with interval training is to pick a set amount of time to work hard. And follow that period of hard work with a rest or active rest, which consists of gentle, less intense movements that allow your heart rate to recover.

Interval timings to try

Beginner exercisers have equal work to rest ratio. Try what trainers call 1:1 ratio. This is a great beginner work-to-rest ratio. As a beginner your intensity level should be about 6-7/10.

Example: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for strength-based moves; 60 seconds on, 60 seconds off for cardio activity.

After a few weeks, increase your intensity. As your fitness level improves, try increasing your intensity until you’re working as hard as you can for the exercise time.

Next step: Once you feel that a 1:1 ratio is too easy and you feel ready to start before your rest time is up, you can move on and try a new ratio. You can do any of the following: simply increase your work time, increase your intensity level during the work time, or decrease your recovery time.

More work, less rest: A ratio of 2:1—twice as much work-to-rest. Try 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds recovery, and repeat five times.

If you’re just getting started with exercise, my introductory way to start interval training and using the clock to your advantage is very simple to follow. You get to adjust the timing to suit your current fitness level and progress from there. You should try the exercises I wrote about last week, because results and body improvements require an element of repetition.

By using the same exercises as last week, my aim is to show you that the those exercises can elicit a different response from your body just by changing the way you do them. This may help you to realize that keeping it simple with your workout and just implementing small changes can lead to big differences in the way you feel, and the number of calories you may burn.

Interval training and weight loss

I often get asked about exact number of calories each workout will burn. Although it may sound like a simple question, the number of calories each individual burns is personal and based on several variables—such as your body weight, intensity level, duration and mode of exercise you’re performing.

Your body burns calories either from stored fat or carbohydrates as it’s energy source for exercise. You may even be burning calories at a higher rate after a workout if it was intense. My personal view is that it’s best to avoid a numbers game when it comes to exercise and activity. Keep the numbers to your nutrition plan or for counting your reps.

I recommend that you use perceived exertion and judge your workout on how you feel. It can be quite disappointing to see that an hour of exercise may not be enough to burn off a fancy cup of coffee. The benefits of exercise span way beyond how many calories your body is burning off. If you want to do the math, simply use a calorie-burning app on your smart phone or computer. Or, wear a heart rate monitor if you want more accurate calculations.

Moving your body and progressing with a stepped approach while maintaining a positive attitude is the best way to get great results.

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