Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interval Training: Made for those of us with no time!!

I used to run distance.

Back when I was single, dogless and childless, it would be nothing for me to tie up my shoes and put in my headphones and go.  I loved running in neighborhoods.  Sometimes, I'd stop and walk a little and look at the houses and plan what my dream house would look like one day.  By the time I'd get home, an hour may have passed and I'd have gone several miles.

I wasn't that versed in how to get fit - but I knew that I wanted to be fit.  And I knew how to run (no matter how ugly my gate was) and I knew that it would help me be skinny.  So run I did.  

And when my normal route began to get easy, I would just extend it a little bit further or add another neighborhood into my trek. life has changed!
Today, my time is very rarely my own and, when it is, I certainly don't feel like lacing up my shoes and taking off anymore.  I have a very specific time set to workout and I need to stay within those parameters.

Yet, I still want to be skinny.

So what's a girl to do?  INTERVALS, my friends!  Intervals!!  These are by far the best way to get the most bang for your workout time.  The great thing is that you can do them on any piece of equipment or even at home.

The idea behind them is similar to your car burning gas.  When I was younger and driving "everybody's-favorite-little-white-Chevy" (my white, two door Cavalier coupe), I would come off a stop and completely gun the engine.  Now, she was a stick and this was a ton of fun.  My mom didn't think it was so great and would lecture me about the amount of gas I was burning during my fun and "if I would just gradually increase my speed, I would save gas." 

Well, the same idea applies to our bodies and the fuel (calories) we would like to burn during a given time.  If you have 30 minutes and you choose to scoot along on the elliptical or jog at a 5.0 for the entire time, you will be just like my mother driving (ha!)...putzing along, trying to conserve your gas.  However, if you alternate your levels (this could be speed, intensity or incline) then you're going to burn more calories in the same amount of time.

If you have a piece of equipment, get on and plan to go 20 minutes.  Now, you need to either have a running time showing on the equipment or a clock on the wall with the second hand. 

So say, you've chosen a stationary bike.  Get settled and get your Walking on Sunshine going (or whatever music inspires YOU) and take the first two minutes to get warmed up.  Get a steady rhythm going...adjust your seat, pick  your what you need to do now.  As soon as minute two is over, you are going to sprint (i.e. peddle as hard as you can) for a minute.  

Now here's where you have to be honest with yourself.  This sprint should have you watching the clock and thanking God when the minute is over.  You shouldn't be able to talk, look around, read your Kindle or do anything but peddle during this minute.  You are in full intensity mode.  After the minute, you're back to slow, turtle pace.  This is your recovery...for a full minute.  

The first time you try this, just aim to go intervals for ten minutes - with a minute on, a minute off.  It will go like this...

1 - 2:00 Warm-up
2 - 3:00 Sprint
3 - 4:00 Recover
4 - 5:00 Sprint
5 - 6:00 Recover
6 - 7:00 Sprint
7 - 8:00 Recover
8 - 9:00 Sprint
10 - 12:00 Recover
12 - 20:00 Moderate

This will give you four total sprints and then eight minutes of your normal pace at the end.  If you have a 30 minutes block, you even have time for some abs at the end.  The beautiful thing is that you're going to be burning more calories in less time as long as you're honestly sprinting.

I would recommend these for a bike or treadmill or the rowing machine. I just can't seem to get an adequate sprint on a standard elliptical.

If you are walking or running on the street, my favorite way to incorporate these are with mailboxes.  Use your landmarks..."I'm going to jog to the red mailbox and then sprint to the house with the yippy dogs barking and then walk to the stop sign."  ...for 30 minutes.

Try these and let me know what you think!  Good luck!

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