Oh, intervals. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. <Insert wistful sigh> Have you tried intervals? If not, you’re really missing out. There are so many variations of them that you can’t possibly get bored. You can do them inside or outside. On a machine or using just your bodyweight. Longer intervals or shorter intervals. You get the idea.
Let me start with what an interval is. It is a period of higher intensity work followed by a period of rest. Your heart rate should go up to 80-85% of your maximum heart rate during the work portion, and then come back down to 50% of your max during the rest. If you don’t have a variation like that in your heart rate, you aren’t doing intervals. You’re doing steady state cardio. Intervals require the work and rest variation.
Unless you have a medical limitation or have been advised to not do intervals, just about everyone can do them. You just need to do them at your fitness level and within your own limits. They are customizable. A beginner may push their limits with walking intervals, while someone more advanced could do sprints like their hair is on fire. Some require longer rest periods to bring their heart rate back down (hello, that’s me!), and some require very little rest.
Today was leg day so I didn’t have much energy left to do cardio but I really wanted to push my legs to their limits . I headed to the treadmill for some hill sprint intervals. I have to admit one of my favorite things about intervals is that it appeals to my laziness. I did the sprints for 20 minutes and burned a ton of calories, and I stood for more than half that time. I loved it! Everyone else around me was walking or jogging for 20 minutes straight and I got to stand. Heehee.
Here’s the workout I did. Everyone’s speed is going to be different depending on your fitness level so I didn’t list a number on purpose. Choose a speed that pushes you but doesn’t make you trip and fly off the back! It may not be a run or a jog. Walking may be enough of a sprint for you. I do them on the treadmill and keep it running the entire time. During the rest period, I grab the handrails, hop my feet onto the sides, and stand there gloating at my laziness.
The steep incline really hits the glutes and hamstrings. You can also do these outside on a real hill if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. I live in hill free Texas unfortunately so I settle for the treadmill. Try racing your kids to the top of the hill and then walk back down for the rest period. I bet they’d love the challenge and not realize it’s “exercise.”
What’s your favorite interval workout? If you try this one, let me know what you think. Happy weekend!
PS – Look for some more posts on intervals coming along with some fun and fast workouts to try.