Whether working with a client one-to-one, in a group for my circuit’s class or training on my own, interval training has lots of reasons to be number one on my list of workout styles.
I love that it provides variety and it’s easy to adapt to any fitness level and goal when thinking of my clients.
What is interval training?
The idea behind interval training is that you design a series of exercises to set periods of ‘work’ and ‘rest’ or ‘active rest’.
During your ‘work’ periods you try and go full out and then drop to a gentle jog or walk for your ‘active rest’ periods.
By working out in this way you challenge your body’s muscular system, co-ordination and cardiovascular system, as well as improving tone, joint stability and general health and well being.
Where can you do interval training?
This is one of the great advantages of interval training…with a bit of imagination you really can work out anywhere. You can try interval training in a gym, working your way around the machines, or carrying out one ‘circuit’ on a single machine. If you like working outside then it’s really easy to adapt your workout to the outdoors, using a bench for raised press-ups and tricep dips and 2 markers (try 2 waste bins) for your shuttle runs.
Or if you’re someone who travels a lot on business then try it in your hotel room – it’s amazing how creative you can get with a chair and empty space by your bed…I just wouldn’t advice using the corridor for shuttle runs!
I like to mix up the CV section of a personal training session by using interval training. Clients are looking for variety and creativity when they work with a personal trainer, so using a variety of exercises, instead of pounding a way on a treadmill, allows each session to be different. Getting creative with your moves, i.e. adding a forward arm punch to lateral lunges over a step means you’re also working in different planes of movement and emulating more ‘real-life’ ways in which we move our body.
And if you or your client loves the rower or upright cycle, then you can still adapt interval training to CV equipment. Set a goal of strokes per minute for your ‘work’ period where you feel like you’re working at 70-85% HRR, then take it down for your ‘active rest’ periods…simple really!
Make your exercises more explosive by trying plyometric movements such as adding a jump to your squats or lunges. Not only will you gain the benefits of CV training (your heart will need to work much harder with this style of training) but it will also increase your power as your muscles contract concentrically and eccentrically one after the other.
Go hard and try Tabata
Working on a 20 second ‘work’ to 10 second ‘active rest’ ratio, this really burns fat fast. But don’t be fooled…this is not for the faint hearted! I use this style of workout once a week to really push me to new levels, but it’s not a style of training I would use with a client who has been sedentary prior to seeing me, or someone who is just getting back to their full fitness.
If you follow the principle to its fullest, you’ll see your heart rate soar, taking you out of aerobic training (with oxygen) and into anaerobic training (without oxygen).
This means we go over our 80% HRR, causing a ‘spike’ out of our fat burning zone, sending our body into an oxygen deficit.
To regain this oxygen deficit our body continues to work hard, even though we’ve physically stopped exercising. We call this the ‘afterburn’ or EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and it can last for up to 48hrs post exercise, meaning you’re still burning calories. So although difficult, it does make it a great way to work out for optimum fat loss and improvements to our cardiovascular systems.
Please remember to always warm-up before you take part in your exercise programme and finish with a cool down period and post stretch section.