Reach Your Fitness Goals and Mix Up Your Workout with Interval Training

01:00 March 13, 2020
By: Celeste Turner

Short on time? Looking for a new challenge? Try interval training-designed for speed, strength, endurance, and a good sweat-session-in 30 minutes or less.

Considered to be the latest fitness rage, interval training is a series of low- to high-intensity work periods interspersed with rest or recovery periods. The intermittent cycle of intense work with periods of low-level activity or rest helps to improve cardiovascular endurance while burning calories.

Interval training has become popular for those individuals who want to step up their fitness game or, perhaps, are looking to squeeze a workout into their busy schedule. Some fitness enthusiasts have incorporated HIIT (high-intensity interval training) into their exercise regime.

HIIT workouts are shorter than traditional workouts because they involve hard, demanding intervals of 10 to 60 seconds of intensive work followed by equal or longer rest periods.

HIIT workouts are shorter than traditional workouts because they involve hard, demanding intervals of 10 to 60 seconds of intensive work followed by equal or longer rest periods. The interval periods of HIIT can vary in length, up to 30 minutes, and can be dependent upon the intensity of effort. The harder the work intervals, the more calories burned toward losing weight and getting into shape.

HIIT workout routines are not complicated. It is a simple way to change up your current exercise routine and push your limits in a shorter time period. In fact, a variation of HIIT, called Tabata training, has hit the mainstream and focuses on sheer intensity in a timed interval practice. It consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises with 20 seconds of maximal exercise and 10 seconds of rest. The Tabata circuit may take only four minutes to complete; however, that four-minute workout can push your body to its absolute limit.

Tabata training was developed in 1996 by Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. He discovered that the timed interval method was beneficial for athletes to increase their metabolism and improve their aerobic capacity. During this study, found in the October 28, 1996 issue of Medicine Science and Sports Exercise Journal, Tabata noted a significant improvement in the energy of the athletes who did this method of workout five days a week for six weeks when compared to those who performed longer workouts at a less intense pace.

However, HIIT and Tabata training are not for beginners and can pose a high risk of injury. The high-intensity exercise may be best for advanced exercisers who are comfortable with this type of training. In the workout, the intensity builds, peaking near the end, so it's easy for the intensity to sneak up and exhaust you if you're not used to this method.

Also, there's always a greater risk of injury when you're doing high-impact, high-intensity exercise. Minimize that risk by thoroughly warming up before the workout and keep track of your heart rate.

You can avoid the monotony of doing the same exercise for four minutes in Tabata training, for example, by mixing up the exercises in the same Tabata cycle. You can always alternate exercises that you are comfortable with, like jumping jacks and squat jumps. Or, maybe you would like to do eight different exercises throughout the entire Tabata circuit. The length of the exercise, even with rests in between, can get monotonous and quickly fatigue your muscles.

Whether you follow a workout or create your own, the flexibility and effectiveness of interval training may be something to kick off your new fitness regimen. If your goal is to build muscle, add strengthening exercises like push-ups or tricep dips to your Tabata workout. Or, if you're trying to lose weight, lengthen the cardio periods of your interval training.

Now, there are no excuses. For inspiration, keep in mind this famous quote: "Don't limit your challenges; challenge your limits."

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