Interval Training has got to be one of my all-time favorite exercise tactics for fat loss. That means that it consistently delivers when it comes to optimizing body composition. If you already have a copy of my interval training guide that comes with my Free Fitness Breakthrough Kit, then you already know what I’m talking about. If not, read on, then go get it fuhevensakes!
Let me ask you something.
What if you could find cardio exercise that:
1) challenges your cardiovascular fitness (of course!)
2) builds muscle (anabolic activity)
3) invigorates and provides stress reduction at the same time
4) can be finished in 20 minutes 2-3 times per week.
Tada, it exists! And it’s right here at your fingertips and footprints. And it’s been here all along, it just got buried under all the “long, s-l-o-w” cardio information we’ve been presented with for the last few years.
The good news is, you needn’t do long, s-l-o-w to get the best benefits from cardio exercise, quite to the contrary. If you are willing to put a little more muscle and mind into the equation, you can slice your cardio time by huge chunks and come out ahead as well.
Interested? Here’s more….
What Exactly IS Interval Training?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves changing speed or resistance – and thus intensity – within the course of a cardiovascular workout. Thus, instead of a slow, long distance – or long, slow time – within your aerobic intensity aerobic training “zone”, you intersperse short, intense periods into otherwise more moderate minutes.
This approach – intermittent bouts of intensity systematically built in – works more efficiently for fat loss and muscle building than long and slow does. In other words, you can get the job done in a shorter amount of time.
Bottom line, what I best like about HIIT is that it aligns beautifully with my preference for “short and to the point” fitness. Bang for your buck is essential with a busy life, and IT fits the bill.
Simply put, the easiest way to do interval training is to start off at a good pace for about 5 minutes. A variety of modalities can be utilized: stationary bicycle, eliptical trainer, jogging/walking, for example.
Then, you pick up the intensity and go hard and as fast for a minute and then bring it back down for a minute or two – however long it takes for you to recover enough to do it again. Then you repeat the process for a total of only 15-20 minutes, including warm up and cool down. It is advisable to start with one interval a session, then progress to two, and so on.
The intervals can feel more intense than you might imagine. Jack LaLanne refers to it as imagining “you are running for your life” -that’s tough stuff! And also not for the foolhardy who may have been out of condition for a long time. Doctor’s clearance is always recommended. (I always think it’s funny that a doctor’s clearance isn’t required for laying around on the couch for years at a time! )
Another way to practice interval training is simply to keep changing your speed and intensity level every two minutes or so – go up and down – challenge yourself.
Remember, you can download my FREE Interval Training Guide as part of the Free Fitness Kit that is waiting for you here.
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I had a question about Interval Training. I already have muscley legs to begin with and i don’t want to gain any more muscle in my legs, I just want to lose fat. What should I do?
Interval training is not a specific for building muscle bulk: it is a high intensity cardiovascular training technique that has a high energy demand with a great return on excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (see my recent articles on EPOC). This in turn stimulates and extended calorie “burn” which works in your favor when it comes to creating a negative energy balance that will dip into your fat stores.
So, though IT is a muscle-challenging device and will create some nice shape, it is not a “bulking” technique.
As a side note, you don’t need to worry about building up excess bulk in your legs as a woman, and if you are quite lean and this is a problem, then it is not hard to tweak your training to avoid this affect.
Thanks so much for coming in to comment and I hope this helps!
This really helped. I was doing TT training and just wondering if it would add bulk to my legs, I’m glad it doesn’t. What about T Tapp? Would that replace the weight lifting part of my program in order to just maintain muscle mass rather than bulk? Thanks so much! I appreciate your response!
Knowing what your goals are is important when you decide upon the best training regimen for yourself. Are you looking for minimal workout time with maximum results? Are you looking for primo shaping? Bodyfat reduction?
Remember, it is tough for women to “bulk up” in muscle without artificial enhancement. It doesn’t just happen accidentally or without major effort and attention to serious training! I find that what many women fear as “bulk” is actually due to the bodyfat that is covering some lovely well-shaped muscle.
T-Tapp provides some excellent muscle shaping and strengthening. You can combine weights with T-Tapp in an alternating fashion/rotation during your week for some splendid results, too.
Again, working backward from your goals is the best way to approach your training!
Have a questions about this, Lani…Following is your comment…
“What Exactly IS Interval Training?
Interval Training (IT) involves changing speed or resistance – and thus intensity – within the course of a cardiovascular workout. Thus, instead of a slow, long distance – or long, slow time – within your aerobic intensity aerobic training “zone”, you intersperse short, intense periods into otherwise more moderate minutes.”
So does this mean that when you are doing the “running for your life” (as Jack Lalanne puts it) you bring your heart rate up above the 65-80 (85)% mark into the anaerobic zone? Then go back down into the aerobic zone (is that what you are calling “long slow time?) for a few minutes to recover, then back into above and so forth ? If not what does it mean for the heart rate zones?
Have you seen Dr. Barry Sears PACE program? If so what do you think of it?
Thanks so much,
If you are referring to Al Sear’s PACE guidelines, yes that is a style of interval training with intermittent overloads and recovery periods.
Long slow distance means low intensities, at the bottom ranges of aerobic training; the intervals have you pop into the high intensities which can quickly take you out of aerobic training into anaerobic but that is expected as part of the intensities. It’s way you can’t maintain the intense intervals for long and must spend the proportionate time in recovery!
Both LSD and Intervals train the cardiovascular system; the intervals do it in a shorter amount of time AND can push the fitness of the cardiovascular system to new levels. Care must be taken as to safety in implementation, but orthopedically and in terms of cardio health.
Yes, I pretty much get the basic stuff, but still wonder about the heart rate….So when you are in the high intensities should you stay in the over your target heart rate (anaerobic) for up to a minute, or for just a few seconds, or not be concerned with it?
Also Pace (yes, I meant Al not Barry, Duh) seems like the best way to do it, but I have not really done it so am not sure. Have you? I think he says it is like the run-for-your-life activity that our ancestors would have had to do sometimes but it would not last for a long period. Usually only short spurts were needed…then climb a tree!,
Dr. Mercola (mercola.com) talks about Peak 8 training and does an excellent job of explaining the protocol. 30 seconds hard and recover for 90 seconds. After several peaks your heart rate will go down but not to starting peak rate. 8 peaks and your done. Google Tabata also. It is another method of high intensity training.
I love this method of training and am a home exerciser. I could not slog out long distance any more!