Did you know that alternating between high and low intensities for 20 minutes is more effective at burning calories than 20 minutes of steady state exercise? Once you are able to complete steady state cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes or more, start to gradually introduce interval training to your workout. Interval training is a fitness training approach in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with higher intensity intervals. Interval training has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of training for weight improvement because of the fat burning benefits even hours after your workout. So, how do you safely introduce cardio intervals to your workouts?
1. Select your exercise equipment
It is safest to introduce cardio intervals on exercise equipment that creates less impact on your joints, such as the bike, elliptical or rower. Cardio machines make it easier to control the intensity and help individuals keep the correct form during high intensity intervals. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, then you can with your bike or on foot. However, if you start on foot be careful and make sure you don’t create unnecessary stress your joints.
2. Choose interval and recovery time
After your five to ten minute warm up, start to alternate between your high and low intensity intervals for a total of twenty minutes.
High-Intensity Interval Time: The amount of time you spend exercising at higher intensity, such as a 70-100% effort. You will want to focus on bringing your heart rate up safely and keeping correct form. Interval time is usually 30-60 seconds long.
Low-Intensity Interval Time: The amount of time you spend exercising by at a lower intensity, such as a 30-60% effort. You will want to focus on recovering by bringing your heart rate down and taking deep controlled breathes. Low intensity intervals are usually one to three minutes.
3. Adding intensity effectively
The two most common ways to effectively increase your intensity is by increasing your resistance and/or your speed. I recommend first increasing your resistance and then increasing your speed for the safest results. For example, add resistance to your stationary bike and pick up the speed for 30 seconds. Then, take the resistance you added back off the bike and ride easy for one to two minutes during your low intensity interval.
Written by: Mallory McCormick, Weigh and Win Health Coach