Today I want to talk about one of my favorite workout topics as of late: interval training. An article that was forwarded around at work today referenced this article about the rising popularity of interval training, which gave me my Workout Wednesday inspiration.
Back in my younger days, this is what my gym workouts used to look like: I would run on the treadmill at 6 mph until I had run three miles. I would then go do three or four weightlifting exercises. I would then leave, and never be sore, and never feel challenged, and never see much of an impact on my fitness level or my appearance.
But then I started to get a little bit smarter. First, I put more emphasis on weight training with heavy weights, lifting more weight for longer sessions. And then I embraced interval training.
Let's talk about the upside of interval training here: if you have a very limited amount of time to spend at the gym, interval training is your friend. It's got your back. You can do 20 minutes of cardio all-in (including warm-up!) and finish a full workout. You can feel good about getting in and out of the gym in half an hour.
The other major upside is that it challenges you physically in a way steady-state cardio never will. I'm not a scientist, so I can't explain why that is, but it will wear you out and increase your fitness level faster than you could have imagined. After all, no pain, no gain, right?
My absolute favorite interval workout is two minutes walking, one minute sprinting, alternating five to ten times. The concept is easy - work hard, then rest. Work hard, then rest. You can apply that philosophy to any standard cardio workout - swimming, running, biking, stairclimbing, jump roping, etc. etc.
So, give interval training a try the next time you're at the gym. Or, if you haven't been to the gym in awhile, try an interval workout to get yourself re-engaged. For a really easy introduction, try this easy interval workout that's set to the song Gentleman by PSY (it's catchy, but I will admit, it's no Gangnam Style). Remember - the hard parts of the workout should be REALLY hard. As in painfully hard. It will be uncomfortable at the time, yes, but I promise it will be worth it.