Getting fit takes time, it goes without saying. And who these days has extra free time to spend in the gym or sweating at home without compromising something else? Trying to squeeze dreadful workout sessions between work and other errands requires a lot of discipline and can be draining, especially if you have a lot on your plate at work, are feeling stressed and a to-do list just keeps getting longer. It’s so easy to skip a session that requires an hour of your time (or more) when there are so many other important things to attend to.
What if I told you that there is a way to do more in less time and be healthier? That it is possible to be burning more calories without spending more time exercising? Sounds great, right?
The solution is simple: Interval Training.
The principle of interval training is alternating episodes of exercise with periods of recovery and less intensive activity at set, pre-determined intensities and durations, for example: run fast for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute seconds and complete five cycles.
This method focuses on quality, not quantity, of training, and makes normally exhaustive amount of exercise at high intensity achievable, thanks to carefully spaced and timed periods of recovery.
The list of health benefits of Interval Training is long, but here are the main ones:
- Boosts metabolism. Burns more calories in a shorter period of time.
- Increased metabolic rate following exercise. You’ll keep burning calories even after you’ve finished your session.
- Helps build endurance and improves sports performance – you’ll be able to work faster for longer.
- Improves aerobic fitness. Makes heart and lungs stronger and more efficient.
- Cost-effective – no equipment necessary, no need to go to the gym. You can just pick your own cardio workout and make it interval.
- Allows to preserve muscle while still losing weight, as opposed to steady pace cardio training which is often associated with losing muscle.
- More diverse and interesting training session.
- More challenging.
Another one of the many great things about interval training is it’s versatility—you can adapt it to suit you needs, goals and fitness level by playing with different lengths of work and recovery. They bring different benefits but they’re all good.
Important thing to remember, though, is that due to higher intensities involved, this kind of training should only be performed 2-3 times a week. Ideally, 48 hours of lower intensity activity is advised between interval sessions (at least).
Also, higher intensity exercise may not be suitable for everybody—especially older people or those with health issues. If you’re new to exercise, it’s always a good thing to check with a doctor and start with gentler forms of intervals, then gradually build up—even interval walking can boost fitness.
Interval workouts are no doubt more efficient than slower exercise, but they are more uncomfortable and may not work for everybody. And it’s ok. But it’s worth to try and have it as an option on the menu, especially if you want to reach your fitness goals (lose weight or improve sports performance) faster.