When it comes to staying in shape on a tight schedule, there's probably no better solution than interval training.
Exercise physiologist Daniel Kane explains the benefits of express workouts and how to get the most out of your training sessions.
Interval training is a popular form of exercise utilised by many in the health and fitness industry. This style of exercise is a great way to keep fit and healthy with smaller sessions of exercise, or to reinvigorate your exercise routine.
Interval training (IT)
This form of workout alternates between periods of higher intensity exercise with short periods of rest or low intensity exercise. There are several benefits to this style of training. Interval training can maximise energy burnt and fitness benefits achieved in a shorter amount of time compared to your classic steady state cardio exercise. This is due to the breaking up of exercise bouts with short rests so you can continue to perform at a higher intensity throughout your session, whereas maintaining a high intensity for the whole of a steady-state-cardio session would not be sustainable. Due to the higher intensities achieved, you will also have a greater metabolic affect – due to the higher energy demands placed on your muscles, your body is unable to supply them with adequate oxygen. This means that you accumulate an oxygen deficit, which causes your body to burn extra energy for several hours after the workout. Another benefit of IT is that you can gain both cardiorespiratory AND strength/power fitness benefits from the same workout. It can also be a great alternative or accompaniment to your regular exercise to keep things interesting and develop different types of fitness.
Get the Most Out of Your Workout
To maximise benefits from interval training you must have a good base of fitness/strength to work off. If you are just starting an exercise routine or beginning a weight loss journey it is better to build up your fitness and exercise routine before starting IT. A good “engine” takes time to build, so if you are quite sedentary then start off with more moderate intensity cardio (e.g. brisk walking) and some classic strength training (controlled actions with longer rest breaks) to lay down the neural pathways required to perform more powerful functional movements without risk of injury or at a high enough intensity to maximise benefits.
When creating interval workouts focus on including difficult movements that challenge your entire body in a single exercise. Aim to include at least two exercises back to back before allowing your body to recover. Catch your breath in between rounds but don’t allow yourself to recover fully before attacking the next set.
Below is an interval training session developed to both increase functional strength and cardiorespiratory fitness.
INTERVAL TRAINING PROGRAM
Skipping/Star jumps/ jogging on spot (30 seconds on 15secs off) Repeat 3 times.
ROUND 1 (repeat twice (20 second break between repeat AND next ROUND))
Sumo squats 15
Push ups 15
V snaps 10
ROUND 2 (repeat twice (20 second break between repeat and next ROUND))
Lunges (5 each side)
Front plank with glute leg lift (8 each side)
Cycle crunch (20 seconds)
ROUND 3 (repeat twice (20 second break between repeat))
Isometric wall hold with forwards punching shadow boxing (30 seconds)
Mountain climbers (20 seconds)
Gluteal bridge (single or double leg hold 20 seconds)
Always check with your Doctor before commencing a new exercise regime and discuss the possible risks and benefits. This can be managed in coordination with an Exercise Physiologist or other health professional.
Circuit You Can Do At Home
Circuit exercises are a perfect way to achieve high intensity workouts in a short amount of time. Here’s a few you can get done on a balmy night in your own backyard.
Complete the below exercises as a circuit: complete 1 set of each exercise then move onto the next one straight away. After you have completed 1 set of each exercise then have a 30-180sec break depending on your current level of fitness (increased fitness means less time for a break). Complete the circuit 3 times.
Step-ups and leaping squats
The ideal setting for these exercises is something with a strong foundation but not too far off the ground, such as a kids sandpit. The height is important because leaping too high may cause damage to your knees.
Start by stepping on and off the edge of the sandpit, alternating legs to warm up your muscles – 8 on each leg.
When you feel ready, jump up onto the sandpit edge and land in a squat position
Step back down slowly (1 rep). Complete 10 of these.
All you need for this is a sturdy outdoor lounge or similar seat.
Position yourself at the edge of the seat then place your hands shoulder-width apart.
Place your legs out in front so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees and your feet are flat on the ground.
Lower your body halfway to the ground and back up again (1 rep). Complete 10 of these. If you need more of a challenge then stretch your legs out so they are straight and your heels are on the ground.
You should be able to feel this one in the upper/back section of your arms.
Cardio on a trampoline
Put the fun back in aerobic exercise with an adult-friendly trampoline. Get your bearings with a simple straight jump, hands above your head, for 30 seconds. Then move on to a tuck jump; tuck your legs into your chest as you jump and grasp them with your hands. Release and land in a straight position, repeat for 30 seconds. If you’re feeling flexible try a pike jump and reach your legs out in front of you and touch your toes, again for 30 seconds. Land again in a straight position.