Finding the time to work out is hard enough, but making that time worthwhile is another battle altogether. In an ideal world you might wake up without the aid of your alarm, enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, and then meander to the gym while looking forward to a day of pampering at the spa afterwards.
The reality is that you’re probably cursing your alarm clock out and then running out the door so you can squeeze in a quick spin class or a 20 minute cardio session at the gym before the rest of your hectic day crowds out all efforts to get in shape. Don’t worry – we can work with that! We know you want to make the most of whatever time you have to work out. Enter interval training.
The Low-Down on Interval Training
Interval training, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a workout that includes intervals of high intensity alternating with periods of lower intensity. For example, as a beginner you might start with running as fast as you can for 1 minute, and then walking for 3 minutes. Anything that pushes your limits for a short period of time – swimming, running, weight lifting, snowshoeing- can be included in a HIIT workout. This 30-minute workout is a great launching pad.
The idea is simply to push your limits for a period of time and then allow your body to rest for a period of time. Not only is this an effective way to get in shape, but it’s also appealing. You can do anything for a minute or two, right? Of course! You go at your own pace, and the intensity and duration is entirely up to you.
Why Interval Training Works
Now that you have the concept of interval training under your belt, let’s take a look at why it works.
It Helps Your Body Extend Its Repair Cycle
HIIT isn’t just a cool concept, it’s actually scientifically based. The intense exertion lets your body know it’s time to kick its repair cycle into gear to build more muscle and burn more fat than you would after a period of steady exercise. This effect lasts up to 24 hours after your workout, meaning the benefits are long-lasting.
Interval training also works well due to its convenience. You don’t need any equipment – you can run anywhere. You also don’t need a huge time commitment. Some studies have shown that just two weeks of HIIT are as effective in improving aerobic capacity as are 6-8 weeks of endurance training!
It Gives You the Most Bang for Your Buck
Interval training also ensures that you maximize your workout. After all, how many times can you increase the number of crunches you do every day? After a while, you’ll just be crunching all day long! However, when you increase the intensity of your crunches you will notice an increase in muscle tissue without sacrificing the entirety of your day to working out.
It’s Heart Healthy
Believe it or not,working in that zone where you push yourself so hard you feel like your heart will leap out of your chest is actually a good thing. HIIT allows several opportunities to function in this anaerobic zone, while the short duration of the extreme exertion doesn’t actually put you in danger.
One study found that HIIT participants could bicycle twice as long as they could before the 8 eight weeks they started the regimen. This translates to a healthier heart.
Your Metabolism is Revved Up
If burning calories while you exercise makes you happy, imagine the thrill of fat-blasting when you’re not even working out! Some studies have shown that those who participate in HIIT experience an increase of up to 450% more human growth hormone (HGH) for up to 24 hours after their workout!
This is great news since HGH is responsible for your caloric burn and for slowing down the aging process.
Ready to start burning some fat and building some muscle? Check out our Pinterest board for more exercise and diet tips!
For a more detailed program, try out the New You Lifestyle Plan that includes simple, detailed fitness and diet changes that are designed to build momentum slowly to ensure lasting change. Check it out!