I will preface this blog by saying I am NOT a runner...in fact I dislike all things cardio. At least cardio in the traditional sense. Cardio is boring. Run for more then 12 minutes and I am done.
Okay, with that being said, cardiovascular training is very important and should be incorporated into your exercise routines. If you can go for a long run or hit the elliptical for 30+ minutes, good for you! But for those of us with shorter attention spans, how do we keep it interesting?
And the answer to that is....INTERVAL TRAINING!
So what is Interval Training?
Interval training is a type of training that incorporates high-intensity bouts of work followed by lower intensity bouts of work, or rest, that is repeated for a specific number of repetitions depending on the fitness level of the individual.
How do I incorporate it?
Interval training can be performed on multiple pieces of cardiovascular equipment or outside on the track; the possibilities are endless. Once you can complete 20-30 min of continuous exercise, start by incorporating 1-2 min of more intense exercise, followed by 1-4 min of recovery time.
Hop on a treadmill warm up with 5 minutes of walking or light jogging; do the same for a cool down. Try 5 sets of 3 minutes running followed by 3 minutes of walking or jogging.
You can do the same on a stationary bike. Make sure you warm up then try 8 sets of 1 minute intense sprints followed by 1 minute of light cycling.
Feel like running outside? Not a problem. Head to the high school track, do a quick dynamic warm up followed by 10 sets of 50 yard sprints then walk 50 yards to recover. When running outside, I find that using telephone poles is a good way to monitor intervals. Jog to a telephone pole sprint to the next and before I know it, I just ran 2 miles!
Repetitions and work-to-rest ratios should be modified to meet your fitness level and needs. If you are just starting out, instead of using a 1:1 work:rest ratio, a 1:3 or 1:4 may be better, until you have achieved a higher level of fitness. Or on the flip side if you really want a challenge try a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.
**Although, there are many benefits with interval training, caution should be used before incorporating it into a training program. Due to high intensity, near maximal training loads, individuals should have a solid foundation of cardiovascular fitness before adding it to their program.**