Interval Training

How often do you interval train?



Today’s the day you jump on this well-deserved bandwagon, my friend.

Interval training refers to changing the intensity within your workout, whether that be through short sprints interspersed in your run or dynamic strength training exercises followed by a short period of recovery.

Interval training is efficient.  By working hard for short bursts you exercise harder overall, allowing shorter workouts to be more effective than long steady workouts.

Interval training burns a butt load of calories.  Steady state cardio burns calories during the workout but there’s not much “afterburn” effect.   Traditional strength training burns a small amount of calories during exercise but provides great “afterburn” calorie expenditure as your muscles recover from all that work.  Interval training, on the other hand, burns loads of calories while you are working out and for the 24 hour recovery period afterward.

Interval training is fun!  Since you are changing at least one factor of your workout every 20 seconds-2 minutes you’re mind and body has no time to get bored.

Interval training boosts your overall endurance.  There’s no way I can run a seven-minute-mile (yes, I am quite slow) but I can sprint a seven-minute-mile-pace for 30 seconds.  When I push myself to run harder and faster than usual with sprints my fatigue threshold gets a little higher and I can run faster for longer overall.

These days my favorite interval workouts are loosely based on the Tabata Method; 20 seconds of high intensity followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated to equal 8 sets total, followed by a minute of rest.

You can either do one exercise for all 8 sets, alternate 2 exercises, or complete a circuit of 4 exercise 2 times.


Here are some examples.

One Exercise 

20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, repeat 8 times

Two Exercises

20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, complete 4 sets of each exercise

  • Walk Out Push Ups
  • Jump Squats

Four Exercises

20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, complete 2 sets of each exercise

  • Walking or Jumping Lunges
  • Push Ups
  • March in Place with Alternating Bicep Curls (with hand weights)
  • Mountain Climbers
Each round is 5 minutes (20 seconds work + 10 seconds rest x 8 + 60 seconds rest = 5 minutes!), you can put 4 rounds together for a 20 minute workout or 6 rounds together for a 30 minute workout!
Using a Tabata-esque training plan is an awesome way to get a cardio and full-body strength workout in 20-30 minutes but if it sounds complicated or you don’t want to give up your regular BodyPump class you can still incorporate Interval Training into your workouts.
Whether you run, swim, walk, bike, or elliptical you can get an interval workout by ramping up the intensity through a change of speed, incline, or resistance.  Alternate high intensity sprints and lower intensity recovery times and you’ve got yourself an Interval Training Workout!


  1. At this point I’m still building up endurance. I speed up a little here and there but nothing organized. It’s enough for now. I can see myself getting to the point where I will want to do intervals though.

    • I hear you but would respectfully nudge you you to get on board anyway! Intervals are appropriate for all levels of fitness and they don’t have to be insanely hard, just a change in intensity and a little challenge. You will see and feel results, promise! 🙂

  2. OH my gosh! How did I miss that you had your own blog??? I am going to use the excuse that it’s becuase I usually read blogs from my phone…even though I am sure it’s because I am not very observant! That’s okay, I am going to subscribe now and become a loyal follower! 🙂

  3. I did some interval training this morning via the fitnessista’s circuit workouts (summer shape up 2011, week 1). Those always get me sweating in no time and I love that I can do short bursts of cardio + some strength and get a great workout in in only 30 minutes.

  4. Great Inspiration In fact I interval trained today with my group We alternate between a foot ball run with and without weights and a tapping move – 2nd position turn out heels up and left right back and forth ANYWAY Yes this is the way to go and the mind bliss and the great cellular release is incredible. Faith Just picked up a book on stretching at he library different than others called Prescriptive Stretching check out if you get the chance Shabbat Shalom mom

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