If you really want to boost your weight loss goals, try some of these tips for better interval training. Pro athletes have been using interval training for decades for better health, increased stamina and effective weight management. While the concept is pretty straight-forward, there are some tips for better interval training that will make each session even more effective.
1. Mix It up
One of the most valuable tips for better interval training I ever received was to mix it up. At first, I had several different interval training routines and stuck to them. I wasn't seeing the results I wanted. After talking to a trainer, I was told to mix up my exercises. She told me to list all possible exercises I wanted to do, put each list item in a bag and draw them out. This would be my exercise order for the day. Mixing it up really did change the results I was getting.
2. Do It Often
Since interval training is one of the most effective workout types, you should do it multiple times each week. The more often you train, the better the results. Try to aim for three sessions each week. Obviously, you can do more if you want. I do it four times a week and then mix in other types of exercise such as a long walk, boxing and dancing.
3. Push Yourself
Interval training works partly because you're constantly changing the exercise and partly because you push yourself. Usually, intervals have you doing a mixture of strenuous and not so strenuous exercises. During the strenuous portions, such as any type of cardio, push yourself just a little harder. Remember, you'll be finished with each exercise shortly. These bursts are what help drastically boost your weight loss.
4. Warm up First
The last thing you want to do is injure yourself. Start any interval training with a warm up session. You'll be able to exercise longer and perform better. I usually start with some light stretching and jogging in place for about five minutes. The idea is to wake up your body and prepare it for more difficult movements. You'll be able to burn more calories and be less likely to pull a muscle simply by taking the time to warm up first.
5. Include Recovery Periods
While it might be tempting to go full tilt during the entire workout, your body needs recovery periods throughout the interval training. For instance, if one interval has you sprinting for one minute, the next minute might be walking. You have to pace yourself to avoid burning out. You need at least one recovery interval for every one or two extremely strenuous intervals. Listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly.
6. Keep Intervals Short
Intervals are supposed to be short bursts of exercise. Most last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. I've found one minute intervals work best for me, but you should experiment with the times to see which works best for you and the types of exercises you'll be doing. When intervals are too long, you get tired too quickly and never finish the rest of your workout. You can always repeat exercises throughout if you want to focus on certain areas of the body.
7. Start Slow
If you're new to interval training, take it slow. I jumped into it thinking I could manage 30 seconds of exercise at a time. My body was screaming at me to stop about five minutes in. The constant changes and lack of any real breaks are difficult to adjust to. I was advised to go at a slower pace until I got used to it. My advice is to take your time and speed up the pace when you feel ready.
8. Cool down
I've seen so many people simply stop after interval training. In no time, their muscles are stiff and they're complaining about aches and pains. Your body needs a chance to slowly come down from the high it's on. At the end of each session, add several minutes of slow jogging or walking in place followed by several more minutes of stretching. Your body will thank you.
9. Skip Days
Interval training can be hard on the body, especially if your sessions are particularly extreme. To avoid damaging your muscles, skip a day between sessions or work at a slower pace every other day. This gives your body time to heal and adjust after a harder workout. I usually try to do a different type of exercise, such as yoga, between my interval days.
Intervals are fun and effective when done properly. I highly recommend downloading an app or watching a few videos to get started. You'll be amazed at how much better you look and feel after just a few weeks. What are your favorite interval exercises?