Beginner's Guide to Interval Training

| Fitness

Research from the Mayo Clinic and several universities has proven that interval training is more effective than your average cardio workout. Oh and it's do-able in less than half the time. But, before you get started on your HIIT routine, know your fitness level. This isn't easy work and you really have to push yourself or you won't be getting the full advantage. In fact, if you are prone to taking lots of breaks, prep yourself. The key to interval training is the rapid increase in heart rate between SHORT periods of rest. Your exertion should be much more than your break. But, it's super important to actively rest. Keep moving between the high intensity intervals.

cycling class HIIT

You can do intervals with literally any machine or exercise. That's part of the beauty of interval and HIIT--it's equipment isn't absolutely necessary. With the help of Dr. Brad Johnson, author of Scared Skinny No More: Exposing the Myths of Weight Bias and Weight Loss, we have developed two different guides for your interval training. The first is basic interval training requiring a cardio machine. This is one for a gym. The second is Muscular Endurance interval training--think Insanity.

Biggest Mistakes Made When Interval Training

Doing too much too quickly: Less is more when you first start. Learn your fitness limits and work towards pushing them. Dr. Johnson recommends thinking "long term success" so you "work smarter."

Trying moves you see online or exercises you are unfamiliar with: "If you are unfamiliar with any exercises or machines, it is so important to ask someone who knows. Bad form can cause more harm than good," says Johnson.

Too little recovery between workouts: Don't try to participate in a weight and cardio interval routine everyday. Your body needs recovery between these workouts, so try to limit them between one to three times a week on nonconsecutive days.

Don't forget: The importance of sleep and proper nutrition is essential improving your overall health.

Continue to the next page for beginner interval workouts!

Basic Interval Training with a Machine:

Equipment Basics:

  • Treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper or stationary bike for cardio intervals.
  • Stop watch for sprint intervals and body weight/plyometric intervals.
  • Heart rate monitor may be used, but typically by someone at the advanced level who may work up to 90% or 95% of their Heart Rate Max for aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Beginners don't need it since they will be exerting maximum effort for very short bursts of time.

Beginner's Workout:

It is best to choose from the treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike.

Warmup: 5- 10 minutes of walking or light jogging. This is important as it will warm up muscles properly and reduce risk of injury.

Workout: Start with 20 – 30 seconds of maximum effort, and then do 45 seconds to 1 minute at a much slower resting pace. If you have to, extend the rest time up to 1 and half minutes. Do these intervals for up to 15 minutes, then do a 5 minute cool down (walking slow).

If you train at home, you may begin with short sprints such as 40 yards and then walk back to start will be recovery phase, which may take up to 2 minutes.

Cool Down: Walk or march slowly for a minimum of 5 minutes. This will allow your heart rate to return to normal and it will also help flush out any lactic acid build up in the muscles.

run treadmill

Muscular Endurance

This is a combination of body weight & plyometric exercises:

Warm Up: 5 minutes of light jogging.

Workout: Jump lunge/ push up Jump squat/ triceps dip Lateral ski jump/ crunches Do one minute of the plyometric exercise and then 30 second of the body weight exercise. Beginners may need to take a 1 minute break between the circuits. This break time can shorten as fitness level improves.

It will take about 5 minutes to do one circuit. Complete circuit 3 to 5 times.

Cool Down: 5 minutes marching or walking.

For more routines, check out our fitness index!