Interval Training Action Guide and Tip Sheet

Interval Training Action Guide and Tip Sheet

Lani Muelrath, MA, GFI, CPBN, FNS

I am excited to bring you all the news about one of my best “don’t have time to work out but want to look and feel like I do” tricks – High Intensity Interval Training.  Sometimes I call this Burst Training, because the intensity comes in bursts.

This Action Guide and Tip Sheet is to assist you in getting started right away with this amazing technique – while addressing your current fitness level.  Burst training may not take much time, but it is demanding and each individual needs to be respectful of their current physical condition.

Yet you’ll be surprised how quickly you can work your way up.  And even more, you’ll be amazing at how quickly Burst training can have an impact on your energy, ability to slim down, and even improve your sleep!

Let’s get down to ACTION!

With all best wishes for your health, beauty, and happiness!

Your friend and coach,



You must get your physician’s approval before beginning this exercise program. These recommendations that follow are not medical guidelines but are for educational purposes only. You must consult your physician prior to starting this program or if you have any medical condition or injury that contraindicates physical activity. This program is designed for healthy individuals 18 years and older only.

The information in this report is meant to supplement, not replace, proper exercise training. All forms of exercise pose some inherent risks. The editors and publishers advise readers to take full responsibility for their safety and know their limits. Before practicing the exercises in this guide, be sure that your equipment is well-maintained, and do not take risks beyond your level of experience, aptitude, training and fitness. The exercises in this guide are not intended as a substitute for any exercise routine or treatment or dietary regimen that may have been prescribed by your physician.

See your physician before starting any exercise or nutrition program. If you are taking any medications, you must talk to your physician before starting any exercise program, including Burst Training. If you experience any lightheadedness, dizziness, or shortness of breath while exercising, stop the movement and consult a physician.

You must have a complete physical examination if you are sedentary, if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, if you are overweight, or if you are over 30 years old. Please discuss all nutritional changes with your physician or a registered dietician. If your physician recommends that you don’t use Turbulence Training or Interval Training, please follow your Doctor’s orders.

On with the Action Guide and Tip Sheet!


Interval Training Basics

Intensity with Interval Training is gauged on a subjective scale of exertion.  As we are all at different levels of fitness, and as our ability to apply intensity can even vary from day-to-day depending on several factors, for Burst Training we use a perceived exertion scale.

It is also difficult to estimate what an individual’s heart rate will be at any given intensity.  For this reason, heart rate monitoring is not optimal for this type of workout.

In each Interval Training session, you’ll be asked to exercise at a specific intensity. Here are the guidelines for judging your intensity.


Interval Training Perceived Exertion Scale:

The Perceived Exertion (see the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion in Fit Quickies:  5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts, Chapter 2) measure is on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being low intensity, 10 being highest.

Level 1/10 – Standing still at rest

Level 3/10 – Walking at a slow, easy pace

Level 6/10 – Moderate jog or brisk walk.  What you might consider a long, slow cardio pace.

From there, depending on your fitness level:

Level 7/10 – Beginner Interval Intensity

Level 8/10 – Intermediate Interval Intensity

Level 9/10 – Advanced Interval Intensity

For the beginner, a 7 will feel like a 9!  Keep that in mind.  And as you get stronger, you will be able to increase intensity.

Level 10/10 – Running from fire! You need never hit “10” intensity.  Save it for the real fire.  But having regular Burst Training on your calendar will insure  better “fire escape” fitness!

Training Intervals

For simplicity’s sake, here is all you need to know about structuring your Burst Training Intervals.  This is the format that I usually utilize, and it gets me on and off the bike in 15 short minutes:



2  (Warm up)

3 – 4


7 – 9

4 – 5

3 – 4


7 – 9

7 – 8

3 – 4


7 – 9

10 – 11

3 – 4


7 – 9

13 – 15 (Cool Down)


Note that intensities for Burst intervals is on a sliding scale from 7 – 9.  This is to underscore the importance of taking into consideration your current condition.

You can add more intervals to this to progress if you like.  Of course, that will add to the time.  And if you can go for 30 minutes and include 8 intervals, it means that your intervals are not challenging enough.  You want those intervals to be all-out, with respect to your condition of course.

Most Common Burst Training Error

Before we get to the Tip Sheet, let me make one very important point.  The most common mistake I see women doing with Burst Training is not reducing intensity enough during the recovery intervals.  The purpose of these intervals is to recover enough so that you can go all out in your intervals.  Keep it easy during recovery times and you’ll actually get more out of your sessions.  Isn’t that sweet?


1)  Pick your favorite:  You can utilize any one of a number of techniques for your burst training.  The qualifiers are that it must use large muscle groups in repeated, rhythmic motion, so that your muscles get in a rhythmic pattern of demand.  Select from, for example:

  • Stationary bike
  • Road bike
  • Jogging
  • Jumprope
  • Stairs or steps:  stadium, building, or on the beach boardwalk
  • Stationary walking programs (as long as you can get the intervals intense enough)
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical trainer
  • Treadmill

Get the idea?

2)  Be safety minded:  Keep in mind that some activity style choices have less inherent risks than others.  This is one of the reasons that I like stationary bike.  I can control the orthopedic risks and environmental obstacles.  I don’t need to worry about traffic or other road hazards, and without having to maneuver around varying terrain, I know my feet will stay solid on the pedals.

3)  Work hard, but don’t knock yourself out:  In your enthusiasm to get going with this powerful strategy of Burst Training, you may  be inspired to go all out to derive the most benefit.  One of my clients new to Burst Training recently just got started – and in her enthusiasm, turned the treadmill too fast and ran herself right off the end.  Ease in!

4)  Play by the rules:  Each activity style has important considerations to address.  For example, if you are using treadmill, allow your interval intensities to be a combination of speed and incline.  Too much speed can cause you to become unstable on the tread (see #3 above).  Too much incline tightens the calves too much for endurance work.  For stationary bike, be sure that you have created an appropriate level to the seat height so that you can maintain good posture on the seat.  It should be just high enough so that your legs almost straighten and the full extension of the pedals.  Be safe.

5)  Don’t fall for the flailing arms myth:  Frequently, I see women say that they use arms overhead to increase their heart rate.  Yes, raising your arms overhead increases your heart rate.  But heart rate alone is not an indicator of aerobic exercise.

Let me explain. Arms continuously raised overhead  is a “false” elevation of heart rate in terms of cardio.

Here’s another example. I could hold my breath and my heart rate would go way up trying to get oxygen to my system, but that doesn’t make it cardiovascular training in the true sense of the word. In other words, it isn’t using the workload of large muscle groups in rhythmic energy demand. It simply means your heart is working harder to get the blood circulated overhead. Intermittently, arms overhead is OK as part of overall large muscle work, but at the same time I don’t like to see fast overhead presses from what I’ve learned about the fragile shoulder joint. Keeping your arms moving and pumping by your sides is something else again and will make you have to work the larger muscles more to get the system fired up.  I learned this differentiation studying with top exercise physiologists in grad school and I’ve seen no new research to discount it.  If you encounter research that says differently, send it in my direction.

6)  Mix it up:  It’s certainly alright to vary the established pattern of intervals.  For example, you could do 15 second bursts and 60 second recovery intervals;  30 second bursts and 90 second recovery intervals.  You are working your way up to 4 and no more than 8 minutes total of Burst time.  If you can do more, your bursts aren’t tough enough!

7)  The layered look:  Burst training can be tacked onto the end of your muscle challenging, body shaping workout.  It’s a great strategy if you know you’re going to need to double up your activity sessions due to schedule. Just keep in mind your muscles are going to be a little taxed and bursts may be harder.  On the other hand, you’ll be already warmed up and can get Bursting sooner!

8)  Use tunes to take it up a notch:  I honestly don’t know how I’d get through my Burst sessions without my tunes.  I utilize the energy in the music to get me to GO on Bursts.  On my ipod, I have music that gets me inspired to warm me up. Then I cycle in faster paced, energizing music that gets me going on the Bursts.  I aspire to keeping up with the beat of the music to give me more intensity.  It is darn tough to keep up by the end of the Burst.  But that’s the point.

9) Position please:  no matter what method of activity you select for your Burst Training, it is important to remember that correct posture and alignment is paramount.  This means shoulders back, chest open, spine lifted, shoulder blades anchored in back, abdominals engaged, and excessive anterior pelvic tilt (top of the pelvis tilting forward) eliminated.  This will give you better results and keep you safe.

10)  Does doc approve?  Seriously, as in the disclaimer at the beginning of this Action Guide, if you have any conditions that contraindicate the intensity of activity that is central to Burst Training, be sure that your doctor has given you clearance and approval to proceed.

There you have it!  Action Guide and Tip Sheet.  Practice Burst Training 3 times a week and enjoy the acceleration in fat loss, increase in energy.



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