It’s time to confess: workout routines can get pretty boring. You hop on the treadmill, run at a nice, steady pace for about 30 minutes, walk to cool down for few more minutes, hop off, call it a run, and repeat tomorrow. Technically this counts as exercise, but does it stimulate your mind, body, or its many muscles?
“If your workout has become stagnant, interval training is a way to gradually challenge yourself,” says Jaime Wood, certified personal trainer and the fitness manager at Virtua’s William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness. Interval training is a type of training where you throw bursts of high-intensity training into your workout. It allows you to incrementally increase the intensity of your workouts, without burning yourself out.
For people who have avoided the interval program on their treadmills, shying away from all of those hills and sprints, Wood recommends starting slowly and building up to more frequent, more intense intervals. “There are no set rules for how long or hard someone should work at that higher intensity,” Wood explains. For example, if you’re walking a mile, you might run for 30 seconds every five minutes.
The incentive of all those extra bursts of work? You guessed it: burning more calories.
To begin incorporating interval training into a workout, look at your current exercise regimen and see where you can start adding in a few additional, higher intensity exercises. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Walk at a track and add in a few runs up the bleachers
- Walk in your neighborhood and add a block-to-block sprint every few minutes
- Amp up your next bike ride by increasing the resistance for 30 seconds every few minutes
- Ride your bike for 5 minutes at a normal pace, and then pedal as fast as you can for one minute
Start slow and build your way up by working hard for 10 seconds, shooting for 20 seconds on the next interval, and building up to a minute or more.
“One benefit is that you can do this at your own pace,” adds Wood. Better yet, at your own paces.