Want to make the most out of your workout time? Try short bursts of intensity, followed by a short recovery, and repeat over and over again. That’s the beauty of interval training. While it isn’t new, especially among professional athletes, interval training continues to gain popularity among all types of fitness buffs. That’s because you can maximize your workout and see results more quickly than at your normal rate of intensity.
“Training in an anaerobic zone is a more efficient way to exercise, and dependant on workload, it can increase caloric expenditure for the remainder of the day,” said Nathan Mellalieu, celebrity trainer and owner/trainer at Studeo55, in Vancouver. “This is different to moderate cardio that will only increase caloric burn during the time of exercise.”
In addition to it being a better use of time, Mellalieu said it’s a more engaging way to train.
“If it is more fun, people are more likely to keep doing it,” he explained. “Exercise results are a direct result of frequency [which will increase if it is fun] and intensity [which is higher in interval training].”
Interval training can be very basic or very scientific, depending on the goals of the individual, according to Mellalieu. At the basic level, it is: work hard, rest for a bit, and repeat a number of times. Make sure to warm up before any intense activity to avoid injuries and soreness. Here are some examples of interval workouts, provided by Mellalieu, tailored to specific athletic needs:
Aerobic exercise (to lose weight): Use elliptical for one minute at level 15, one minute at level eight, and repeat 10 times.
Runners: Run 400 meters, and rest for the same amount of time it took you to run it. Repeat four times and attempt to keep your pace steady in rounds two through five.
Cyclists: Using a spin bike, cycle seated at 90% resistance for three minutes, spin with 40% resistance for one minute and repeat 10 times.
Mellalieu uses interval training with his celebrity clients, who include the cast of “Twilight,” “Tron: Legacy,” “The A-Team,” “Night at the Museum,” “Elektra,” “X-Men” and “Cat Woman.” When she needed to get lean for a show she had coming up, Mellalieu put actress Ashley Tisdale on a five-day-a-week program that included three days of resisted exercises and conditioning, and two days of cardio interval training on the days between working with weights.
Speaking of weights, can they be thrown into the interval training mix?
“Weights can be used for intervals, but they will be to increase the work load and will not build any muscle,” Mellalieu explained. “This is a great way to change things up and keep it interesting. Muscle tone is a bit of a misnomer. Everyone has muscle; it just depends on how much fat is on top of it. To tone is to get more lean. We do this by increasing our activity to the point that we are in a caloric deficit.”
Training solo? Set Starter recently introduced the world’s smallest interval training timer. This timer fits on your thumb and allows you to choose your time intervals, with completed stages indicated by any combination of an audible beep, LED light and/or silent vibration. There are a variety of alarm options — audible beep, visual LED light or silent vibration — to help train you to avoid glancing at your stopwatch and stay focused on your workout. Pretty neat! Get one on Amazon.com for $39.95.