My best friend in the whole world called my the other day with a problem. Of course at first I was concerned there was something terribly wrong with her or her kids. Gratefully it was nothing of the sort. She was stuck in a RUT! A fitness rut!
“I don't understand what is wrong with me. I run three miles every morning. I thought I was doing the right thing (and don’t get me wrong, running three miles every day is MUCH better than staying parked on the couch), but I am not seeing the change in my body that I so want.”
I am so grateful that this is actually something I can help her with, lord knows she has always been there to help me!
After digging in a little deeper I found out more of where the problem lies.
“I know I am in decent shape and I know my heart is healthy, but I am not getting stronger, I am not getting faster, and I am not getting the toned muscles that I would liked to see.”
The answer lies in those three miles, the same three miles at the same pace everyday.
That is when I introduced my friend to interval training.
This conversation got me thinking that if she is having this issue a lot of you might be too.
Do you ever feel like you’re in a fitness rut?
Mix things up and bust through a plateau with interval training.
To put it simply, interval training is adding fast and slow segments to your cardiovascular workouts.
Instead of running at a consistent, steady pace, you vary your intensity level. Interval training can be utilized in almost any aerobic exercise: swimming, cycling, running, even jump roping, and it promises many benefits to your overall fitness level and physique.
Intervals are pre-determined and measured by either time or distance. They are typically completed at a 1:3 work/rest ratio.
If you are running, you would pick up the pace and sprint for 30 seconds, followed by a recovery period of jogging for 90 seconds.
The only way interval training is effective is if there is a distinct difference between your fast and slow intervals. You don’t have to be at top speed, just make sure there is a difference.
The fast interval should make you work hard and the slow interval should allow for recovery. If you’re performing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), like at a Body Back class, you will not adhere to the 1:3 work/rest ratio and your rest period will only slow you to a moderate pace.
What are the Benefits of Interval Training?
Gets your heart pumping harder, increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood, which results in more oxygen to your muscles. As oxygen flows more freely through your body, your stamina will increase.
Your brain releases feel-good endorphins that brighten your mood.
You reduce your risk of disease.
Fitness and performance improves rapidly.
Recovery time improves, which is critical for athletes (and mom-thletes!) who are training for demanding endurance events like marathons, triathlons, etc.
Improves fitness similar to traditional aerobic training, but in much less time.
How do you incorporate interval training into your workout routine? Be aware of your training schedule and make sure you don’t overdo. One study showed that people who participated in interval training every day for two weeks did not receive the benefits due to over-training and exhaustion. Instead, add a couple of interval workouts into your weekly schedule and then you’ll enjoy the benefits. Interval training can be intense and tough, so find a training partner that can keep you motivated and push you forward so you can get the most out of your workout.