I am writing this in response to my good friend Chi Chi’s blog post from the other day. We can all agree with her that endurance cardio training (low-medium intensity + long duration) s-u-c-k-s. TOTALLY SUCKS! It’s boring, impossible without an ipod, tedious and time consuming. Did I mention boring? It’s super boring. There are a couple of you crazy runners out there that would disagree and I’m sorry; I just don’t get the whole habitual running thing. So what to do, right? We all want to burn calories, increase our metabolisms, and improve our cardiovascular health; just not while wanting to blow our brains out at the same time. Here is the solution, or at least an option, for this dilemma – INTERVAL TRAINING!
Intervals are a form of cardiovascular training that involves spurts of high intensity (near exhaustion) exercise alternated with periods of recovery (either complete rest or low intensity). In my opinion, these are the top four reasons why interval training is more effective cardio than endurance workouts:
1. It blasts calories – you will burn more calories in shorter amounts of time. So instead of running at a constant rate for an hour, you can do intervals for practically half the time. WONDERFUL!
2. You will have an increased RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) – this means that after your done working out you will burn more calories during normal daily activity. You pushed it hard during the intervals and now your body needs to feed its exhausted muscles post workout and throughout the day. With endurance cardio training your body will adapt to whatever routine it is you’re doing and actually CONSERVE ENERGY (aka low RMR – holds on to calories). I vote for option numero uno.
3. It improves your cardiovascular health – makes your heart stronger. While doing intervals your heart is working hard in order to handle the high level of exertion at high speeds. Stronger heart = pumps more blood per beat to extremities with less effort. Your resting heart rate will go down and you can give your heart a break (yay), not give you heart-break (boo).
4. It spices things up and keeps your body guessing what’s next! Yep, still a cardio workout that I’m talking about.
Here is the standard 30 min interval set up for any of you who would like to try:
5 minute – warm up (conversational)
1 min – high intensity (non-conversational)
2 min – low intensity (conversational)
4 min – cool down (conversational)
This is an easy go-to workout template, but go wild with it. Often times I will just pick whatever machine I want and kind of make it up as I go, following the basic interval premise of alternating between high and low intensity 1:2. GO GET YOUR SWEAT ON!