You hear about intervals everywhere – just a short burst of exercise followed by a rest period – it all seems simple enough. But for anyone who hasn’t used intervals before, it can be difficult to know where to start.
So, here is our guide on interval training.
Step 1 – Choose the type of exercise you want to perform
Start with exercises you like and then, when you’re in the routine, vary the exercises as much as possible. You are only limited by your imagination and the options are endless: bike, swimming, running, hills / stair sprints, rower, versa climber, stepper, Jacobs ladder, agility cone drills, shuttle runs, skipping, skipping with heavy ropes.
Some less traditional / popular options include: body weight exercises such as burpees, squat thrusts, mountain climbers, total body extensions, squat jumps and star jumps.
Battersea Personal Training Tool Box
At our studio we’re lucky to have various bits of equipment that you don’t see in regular gyms. These tend to be the items we pick for interval work. Why? Because you need to vary your routine as much as possible in order to get the best results.
What we like to use: agility ladder, battling ropes, prowler, sleds, medicine ball exercises such as thrusters or slams, sand bags, TRX / jungle gym, slosh balls, farmers walks and modified strongman training.
A good starter interval is alternating light medicine ball (non-bounce) slams and star jumps.
The secret is to look at the length of your interval and pick the best exercise; shorter intervals will favour harder exercises like squat jumps and longer intervals will favour more rhythmical activities star jumps or agility ladder work.
Step 2 – Remember the hard part should be hard and the easy part easy
Interval work periods are designed to take you out of your comfort zone and the rest periods are designed to let you recover. This is the biggest mistake people make. Failure to push yourself hard will stop you getting the increased metabolic disturbance we are after for fat loss.
Step 3 – Perform your intervals
If you are not currently exercising regularly or have any specific medical contraindications, you will need to get the OK from your doctor before starting any exercise programme. You would also be better off starting a programme of steady state cardio – bike or brisk walking first. Build up to 30-45 min at 60% target heart zone during weeks 1-3, then progress onto 20 min at 80% of target heart rate during weeks 4 and 5. Aim to exercise 3-4 times per week.
For those of you who are already exercising 3 times per week, try adding in a few interval sessions. These can be performed at the end of your main workout (what we call a finisher) or on their own.
Week 1 – Perform 4 sets of 40 seconds high intensity work followed by 4mins of low intensity recovery work
Week 2 – reduce the low intensity recovery work to 3 min 45 seconds
Week 3 – reduce the low intensity recovery work to 3 min 30 seconds
Week 4 – increase the high intensity work to 5 sets and reduce the low intensity recovery work to 3 min 15 seconds
Week 5 – reduce the low intensity recovery work to 3 min
Week 6 – reduce the low intensity recovery work to 2 min 45 seconds
Week 7 – – increase the high intensity work to 6 sets and reduce the low intensity recovery work to 2min 30 seconds
Week 8 – reduce the low intensity recovery work to 2 min
Now you are ready for the real fun and take on our extreme fat loss interval programme!
David & Carol Petersen run Results by Design Personal Training - a personal training gym in Clapham at 292 Battersea Park Road SW11 - Call 020 3551 6739 today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation session and discover how we can
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