What are these workouts?
I have put together interval workouts that use full body exercises—jumps, squats, jax, planks— using an interval timer. The exercises utilize the entire body and will build strength, improve balance, and increase flexibility. The workouts are made up of 4×4 minute rounds, all timed in a TABATA interval (20 seconds work/10 seconds rest) (see What is TABATA? below). The workout gets you in, gets you started, and gets you out in under 35 minutes. And I do believe you may be sore the following day!
What is an interval workout?
Interval workouts are simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity or rest. Both the work interval and the rest interval are timed or measured. By focusing on these short bursts of activity at a high-intensity you are able to complete your workouts in a shorter time.
What is an interval timer?
An interval timer allows you to set the work period and a rest period for the entire round or the entire workout. (For example our workout will have 8 rounds of 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest to make up 4 minutes, this is repeated 4 times for a total of 16 minutes.) I will show you how to set the timer! The timer allows you to focus on the work you are doing and not counting reps or hating wondering how many more you have to do. It beeps automatically to start and stop each work and rest period.
My favorite timer is Impetus for Android users. The presets are good and it has custom settings that make any workout combo possible. Again, I will show you how to set your timer! For details, see interval timers
What equipment do I need?
These workouts require minimal equipment and can be done just about anywhere. All of the exercises use bodyweight as the primary resistance. A mat or folded towel under your hands, knees or back provides comfort. Water and a sweat towel complete the equipment list. To increase intensity, elastic bands or additional weight can be added using light hand weights, water bottles, medicine balls, or sand bags.
Why do interval training?
- You’ll burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn — even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time. Cardiovascular exercise will also increase muscle tone, which will increase your basal metabolic rate, or the amount of calories it takes to sustain your body’s functions at rest. High-intensity training at 85-95% can also burn up to 5 times more calories after exercise than steady state cardio workouts, i.e., treadmill, running, etc.
- You’ll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to increase exercise intensity and calorie burn. Your heart becomes stronger, with the ability to pump blood throughout your circulatory system much more efficiently and becomes more effective in transferring waste and carbon dioxide out of your muscles. Also, you develop more hemoglobin in your blood and more capillaries, for a greater ability to transport blood to the areas of your body where it is needed.
- You will maximize your workout in a short workout period. The high-intensity workout offers benefits to strength and cardio in a focused workout. This benefits those with less time to devote to workouts or just not wanting to spend hours in the gym, there is less risk of wear and tear or injury of repetitive exercise, and less chance of boredom. With the intensity level, there will be focus to maintain form and breath. This is not a workout suited for idle chatter!!
- You’ll provide variety and minimize adaptation. The use of a variety of muscles in each workout will improve overall muscle tone; and, turning up your intensity in short intervals can add increase the benefits from each workout while incorporating a variety of exercises.
- You don’t need special equipment. The workouts can be completed in a space large enough for you to make a snow angel!! The use of a chair or bench, even the front porch steps can allow you to increase the intensity or allow you to modify exercises to adjust for any specific injuries or issues.
Are the principles of interval training the same for everyone?
- Yes — but you can take interval training to many levels. If you simply want to vary your exercise routine, you can determine the length and speed of each high-intensity interval based on how you feel that day.
- When you are just beginning a workout routine, you can adjust the rest periods to allow an increased rest/recovery time between intervals. As you progress, the recovery time will be reduced to an optimal work/rest ratio.
- If you’re working toward a specific fitness goal, you may want to take a more scientific approach. A personal trainer or other expert can help you determine the intensity and time duration of your intervals — which may include movement patterns similar to those you’ll use during your sport or activity — based on your target heart rate, the ability of your heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to your muscles (peak oxygen intake), and other factors.
Does interval training have risks?
- As with any exercise program, proper warm-up and cool down will help alleviate injury. When working at a high intensity, especially if you haven’t in recent weeks, will produce muscular strain and soreness.
What is TABATA?
- TABATA is a timing and training protocol that was founded by a Japanese scientist named Izumi Tabata. His research concluded that high intensity (at 85-95%) intervals of 20 seconds with rest of 10 seconds repeated for 4 minutes, resulted in significant increase in the aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic systems.
- This protocol can be incorporated into workouts using a single exercise, i.e., cycling or running sprints, burpees, or jacks, or a combination of exercises, alternating through the 4 minute cycle. For a full workout, the 4 minute cycle can be repeated, 1, 2, or even 3 times. If you are working at 85-95% intensity—–this will be plenty!!