Facebook Twitter

Interval Training
Shorter Cardio Workouts for Better Results

I am always looking for methods that will save a few minutes working out. In 2008 I wrote about a form of aerobic exercise that uses four-to-six 30-second sprints, with rest periods of up to 4.5 minutes between each sprint.

New research at the time demonstrated that people who did the sprints three days a week, saw the same levels of improvement as people who did 40-60 minutes of continuous cycling five days a week. (Click Here for the original article.)

It was pretty revolutionary stuff. That study showed that people who exercised in short bursts, with rest or recovery periods in-between (known as Interval Training) were doing just as well as people who did continuous cardio exercise. Subjects who exercised all out for 45 minutes a week, were seeing the same results as people who exercised continuously for 360 minutes weekly!

The big question left unanswered was, would it provide all the other benefits of regular cardio exercise? The results came in and it's an amazing success.

Interval training is significantly more effective than continuous training for patients recovering from heart failure, for overweight children trying to reduce their cardiovascular risk factors and for reversing the risks of metabolic syndrome. Interval training is twice as effective in burning fat, it helps increase cardio function while building muscle and it even increases insulin sensitivity (a good thing for diabetics).

 

That's not all. People with hypertension who engaged in interval training and continuous cardio both saw the same reduction in blood pressure. Incredibly, only interval training subjects also experienced a reduction in arterial stiffness. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) saw equal benefit from continuous and interval training.

Below is a video we made about it.

Heart Rate Based Interval Training - How To

The long-term benefits of interval training over continuous training are significantly better for patients recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery, for athletes trying to improve their endurance capacity, and for people over the age of 65 trying to get back in shape.

In study after study, interval training has proven to be as effective, or in many cases more effective, than traditional continuous cardio. What you need to know now is how to do it.

(If you're just starting an exercise program, you should FIRST read How to Start an Interval Program. Click Here for the article.)

Interval Training Method

Step One - Figure out your Resting Heart Rate. Before you get out of bed in the morning place two fingers (your middle and index finger) under your ear, then slide them down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly. You should feel your pulse. Count the beats for one minute. This number is your Resting Heart Rate. To help insure accuracy, take your Resting Heart Rate over three mornings in a row and average the three heart rates together.

Step Two - Use your Resting Heart Rate to calculate your VO2 Max.

We'll calculate your VO2 Max for you!

Click Here for the WeBeFit Training Heart Rate Calculator.

Enter your AGE, SEX and RESTING HEART RATE. The answer is to the right under Red Line Zone / VO2 MAX.

Step Three - Get a heart rate monitor so you can make sure you're working hard enough during the exercise part and giving your body enough time to recover during the rest periods.

Step Four - Get on a piece of cardio such as a bike, elliptical or treadmill and get your heart rate up to your VO2 Max. The exercise segment only lasts from as little as 15 seconds, to as long as 4 minutes. Do not exceed 4 minutes. Realize that when you're first starting, you may only be able to make it more than 15 seconds and your heart rate won't be anywhere near as high as it should be. That's OK. The point is to push it as far as you can.

Step Five - Stop doing the cardio, rest and let your heart rate drop to between 50% and 70% of your VO2 Max. The rest period typically lasts at least as long as the exercise part, and may take longer. Once your heart rate has recovered, go back to step four and raise it up again.

Don't stop moving! In an interval program, during the "rest" periods you should continue moving, just at a much slower speed. Some people refer to it as "active recovery." Stopping completely may allow your heart rate to drop below the 50% threshold and you won't get the greatest benefit from the workout.

Try to get in at least two minutes of total exercise time. As you improve, your goal should be to finish with a total of 15 minutes exercise time. For best results, schedule three interval training sessions a week.

Picture and Link to Cardio Log Sheet
Keep Track of Your Workouts


Click Here for Cardio Log Sheet
(PDF Format)

SPECIAL NOTE:

Below are links to abstracts of the studies proving each of the claims we documented. Click on the study title and an Adobe PDF file will open showing the information as it appeared in PubMed.com on 8/7/2010.

Interval training is significantly more effective than continuous training for patients recovering from heart failure.
Superior cardiovascular effect of aerobic interval training versus moderate continuous training in heart failure patients: a randomized study.

For overweight children trying to reduce their cardiovascular risk factors.
Aerobic interval training reduces cardiovascular risk factors more than a multitreatment approach in overweight adolescents.

For reversing the risks of metabolic syndrome.
Aerobic interval training versus continuous moderate exercise as a treatment for the metabolic syndrome: a pilot study.

Interval training is twice as effective in burning fat.
The effects of two modes of exercise on aerobic fitness and fat mass in an overweight population.

It helps increase cardio function while building muscle.
10 or 30-s sprint interval training bouts enhance both aerobic and anaerobic performance.

It even increases insulin sensitivity (a good thing for diabetics).
Short-term sprint interval training increases insulin sensitivity in healthy adults but does not affect the thermogenic response to {beta}-adrenergic stimulation.

People with hypertension who engaged in interval training and continuous cardio both saw the same reduction in blood pressure. Incredibly, only interval training subjects also experienced a reduction in arterial stiffness.
Effects of continuous vs. interval exercise training on blood pressure and arterial stiffness in treated hypertension.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) saw equal benefit from continuous and interval training.
Interval versus continuous training in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease--a systematic review.

The long-term benefits of interval training over continuous training are significantly better for patients recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery.
Aerobic interval training versus continuous moderate exercise after coronary artery bypass surgery: a randomized study of cardiovascular effects and quality of life.

For athletes trying to improve their endurance capacity.
Training effects on endurance capacity in maximal intermittant exercise: comparison between continuous and interval training.

For people over the age of 65 trying to get back in shape.
Impact of short-term aerobic interval training on maximal exercise in sedentary aged subjects.

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

9/12/2010
Updated 6/14/2012
Updated 12/21/2012
Updated 9/4/2013