Updated: November 3rd, 2021

I know what you’re thinking but, it is scientifically proven to burn more calories, drop the stubborn fat and improve your performance easier than ever (many report with a smile on their face too).
Okay maybe not easier, but what if I told you, it was:

  • Fun
  • Simple
  • Adaptable to your personal capabilities
  • Equipment free (bring your phone for a timer and the ‘post-workout selfie’)
  • Time efficient
  • Extremely rewarding

THE MAGIC WORD IS: INTERVAL TRAINING.

Interval training, is very simple; periods of work followed by periods of rest, and can be done in two ways:

  • Aerobic (Cardio: running, cycling, Swimming, Rowing)
  • Resistance (Strength: Bodyweight, band work, weight training)

Both are imperative for running any distance, at any pace, at any level (at any age!) the bread and butter of your training if you will.

Woman running and smiling

But running is continuous, why should I bother changing my training?

I hear you, and yes to complete 5k, 10k, marathon races your body has to be able to ‘go the distance’ but both continuous exercise and interval training can get you there. However, this might just surprise you…

We know that lack of time in our busy lives is the main barrier to committing to exercise programmes; with approximately 50% of us withdrawing from an exercise regime within the first 6 months! Robust evidence highlights moderate-intensity continuous training session 45 minutes or longer is necessary to:

  • reduce fat
  • improve body composition (getting toned)
  • even help with insulin sensitivity

Yes, we want the benefits but who’s got the time?
Are you someone who slots runs in after work? In your lunch hour? Some of you crazies even do it BEFORE BREAKFAST?! (I don’t know how you people do it!)

Well,
Interval training is scientifically proven to have all the health benefits of continuous training, not only that, but you get a rest AND sessions are much shorter.

Seriously! Studies conclude 12-weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more advantageous than continuous training for a time-efficient lifestyle.

Did you know the recommended amount of physical activity to modify health risks is equivalent to 150 mins (2 hours 30 mins) a week of moderate intensity, continuous training?

Did you also know that the above can incidentally be slashed in half and be achieved thorough 75mins (1 hour, 15 mins) a week of HIIT (See what I mean about time and benefits?!)

And funnily enough, guess what’s more ‘fun?’ Yep! Interval training is much more physically demanding, the constant change in activity and short bursts of work keeps you mentally stimulated.
“It is scientifically proven that interval training makes workouts more enjoyable”

woman running smiling

But wait, you said it can be adapted to any ability, now you say its physically demanding?

This is true.
However instead of asking you to run a 10-minute mile pace, continuous for 3 miles route (totalling a 30 min session) you could:

  • 2 mins of fast-walk, and one minute of jogging.
  • or

  • 2 mins of jogging and a 1 minute fast paced run for 10 repetitions
  • (to get the same benefits. That 1 minute ‘burst’ will be at a higher work rate).

Of course, Interval training doesn’t always have to be about speed. A personal preference of mine is utilising the hills as a resistance, the decline is my ‘rest’ whether that be a walk or slow jog.
Ever tried running a hill backwards? The quadricep gain is tremendous.

So yes, it will be physically challenging.
Think of the couch to 5k training programmes interval training helps to build a foundation. It’s fun, it gets you fitter faster. Seeing and feeling results quicker; less time consuming to fit around your busy lives and get you into a routine.

IT’S SURPRISING HOW QUICKLY YOU GET BETTER AT THIS!

hill run

How does interval training work?

For the Body

Your heart is a muscle, beating at a constant rate. Its all happy, snug and ticks away. It needs a shaking up, to be forced outside of its comfort in order to adapt and grow stronger.
Intense periods of exercise-induced stress on the heart will keep forcing it out of a comfort zone and each time you get stronger. It’s a progressive overload; baby steps.
The concept for your heart is the same with your skeletal muscles. In order to build strength and muscular endurance, You go the gym, lift a few weights, get sore (the part where your body is adapting) and then when you’re back in the gym, each rep becomes easier and easier over time. Viola!

And well, revving up your effort requires more energy expenditure. Calories are energy; more effort = more calories used in your workout, so if you are interested in interval training for weightloss, then you’re on the right track.
Don’t be fooled though, interval training isn’t the only weapon for weight loss, at the end of the day interval training is exercise, and exercise is important (and scientifically proven to be fun!) if you’re looking to utilise this style of training for weight loss you need sufficient nutrition (eating good quality and amount of calories in order to perform the exercises fully. Diet is 80% of success – or failure, so be mindful).

The workout

And the beauty of it is, any form of exercise can be a form of interval training (probably why it’s fun?) Body weight exercises, Skipping, Push-ups Burpees, dancing, Star jumps, Pull-ups, tyre flipping, Kettle bells, Battle ropes, Medicine balls, running, sprinting, even sports count!

What’s great is, you really can tailor it to YOU. Whatever you enjoy, or what your abilities or facilities allow, for example, Cycling, rowing, and swimming are terrific alternatives for limiting impact, choosing to exercise intelligently (for those sore knees, hips, and shins amongst us).

Much like the activity, the formatting can take many models, the common routines are:

  • Jogging lightly for 2mins
  • 1 min of pushing to maximum effort (sprint, burpees, hill work)
  • Back to jogging lightly for 2 minutes
  • Repeating the cycle 4 or more times over.

When its time to level up…
There is a general rule, that would be to increase ONE of these three areas:

  • Frequency (the number of intervals/rounds you complete)
  • Intensity (how hard is each level)
  • Time (how long your interval periods and rest periods are)

An example, if you started with 3 rounds of intervals. Consisting of 10 burpees and 1 minute rest. Once it becomes comfortable (remember your heart just chilling out) it needs to be pushed again so you could:

  • Increase to 4x intervals
  • OR

  • 3x 15 burpees with 1 minute rest
  • OR

  • 3x 10 burpees and 30 seconds rest
  • See? Easy as pie!
    Good luck and enjoy the pie!

    Woman press-ups

    NOTE:
    INTERVAL TRAINING WILL PROBABLY BE PART OF YOUR TRAINING LIFE FOREVER, WHETHER A SEASONED RUNNER, BEGINNER, PROFESSIONAL OR JUST TRYING TO LEAD A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. (ALSO, PERFECT FOR US WOMEN TO SLOT INTO TRAINING REGIMES AROUND OUR MENSES! TO GET THE MOST BENEFIT OUT OF INTERVAL TRAINING, YOU CAN CHECK HERE AND SYNC YOUR INTERVAL TRAINING WITH YOUR CYCLE, LIKE WHAT I DID THERE?)

    HIIT/Interval timers to try out

    1. Tabatta HIIT interval timer (APP)
      you are completely in charge. Simple and easy to use just set the parameters of your workout with each drop down box, even select your music choice and get grafting! As a bonus, it also works with apple health.
    2. HIIT Down dog (APP)
      A new workout every time to keep things fresh and interesting for you (don’t worry you can also save your favourites and keep them for next time). You really can get inventive with this app get it perfect for your workout goals. Its beginner to experienced friendly, all body weight focused with a full video instruction as you go. I love this app and as a personal recommendation from me, as it has helped me enjoy lockdown workouts.
    3. Download interval training/tabatta playlist from apple music/Spotify
      For you who just want to up the ante for 30 seconds or get up a hill as part of your interval then I recommend utilising a playlist. The music is cleverly done so the rest/recovery period is slow, bring your heart and breathing rate down. The 30 second interval will be a fast, energising piece of music inspiring you to get up the hill!
      (just make sure its not on shuffle, don’t want two sprints together now do we!)
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