Let’s face it, most of us have indulged in just a bit too much ice cream, barbecue and summertime goodies over the past couple of months. And now with the season winding down, we begin to ask ourselves why—why did we eat too much, drink too much and completely lose our exercise routine? Aside from warm temperatures, summer also brings a drastic change in our schedule that takes us out of our healthy routine. The good news is that it is just as easy getting back on track as it was getting derailed.
Interval training is a great way to give your body a much needed jolt to get back into fighting shape. It gets your heart rate up relatively quickly only to bring it back down. This pattern of high intensity followed by lower intensity exercises has been proven to be one of the best methods of improving cardiovascular health in addition to helping you lose some unwanted pounds. The best part is that you can do intervals with just about any exercise.
Here are some great exercises to do as intervals to shake off your summer slump:
Running: Even if you are not a runner, this is a great way to become one since running has been proven to be highly effective in shedding pounds. Either on a treadmill or outside, sprint or run at a speed that is challenging to you for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, take the pace down to a light jog or fast walk. Keep alternating between 30 seconds of all-out effort and 60 seconds of active recovery. If you need more time to recover, then take it. Once this becomes less challenging, make the sprints longer than 30 seconds.
Squats: Squats are one of the greatest exercises because so many muscles are working at once. But you can also make it an interval exercise by changing a regular squat to a squat jump alternating between the two. Do a few sets of regular squats and then add in a timed-set of jump squats. Alternate between both exercises—either for time or for reps. If you want an extra challenge, try a squat variation like the tip toe squat or a power squat!
Jumping Rope: Highly portable and incredibly effective, nothing screams high-intensity exercise like jumping rope. Start out by doing sets of 30 seconds and then work your way up to longer intervals of one minute. Keep your rest periods to 30 or 45 seconds unless you need them to be longer.
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Burpees: It is probably safe to say that burpees are not the most loved exercise. However, the fat-blasting powers they have should make it a regular part of your workout routine. If you are new to burpees, try going for a set amount of reps (10 is a good starting point) rather than for a certain length of time. Once you master the technique and get comfortable with them (if there is such a thing), you can begin doing them for one-minute intervals. As you get better, increase your time and decrease your rest period.
Kettlebell Swings: Here is one exercise that will work both your heart and your muscles. Because it is important to do kettlebell swings with correct form or you can risk serious injury, begin doing them for a set amount of reps. After you get the technique down, then do them for time. You will find that doing kettlebell swings for as little as 30 seconds will skyrocket your heart rate. Be sure to take enough of a recovery period before going on to the next interval. As with the other exercises, increase your working time as you get stronger.
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Like working out with kettlebells? Try this great routine for an allover body workout!
Boxing: Boxing is a great exercise that can be done interval style. Find some boxing gloves and a heavy bag and punch it continuously for one minute. Take a short break and then go again but change your punch to an upper cut or a hook. You can even alternate between intervals of kicking and punching to get more boxing bang for your buck.
>> Never tried boxing but want to start? Here are some great kicking boxing DVDs you can try out!
Of course, you are not limited to just these exercises. You can do intervals while biking, swimming, stair climbing or rowing. You can even do them on exercise machines by alternating between two different speeds or resistances. Other exercises like mountain climbers, push-ups, pull-ups and push presses work equally as well when done in intervals. Just make sure you allow enough of a recovery period before you begin your next interval. And if the intervals seem too easy, make them longer or make the recovery periods shorter.
By incorporating interval exercises into your routine, you will no doubt start to feel good about exercising and getting back into the swing of things. Odds are that once you start, you will feel the positive effects immediately and that slump will be gone for good!