We’re always looking to get a bigger bang for our buck. Our fitness routines are no exception. Our time is precious and not all of us have the luxury of spending hours at the gym to get the results we want. But what if we told you that logging hours on the treadmill wasn’t necessary, that you could actually get the same results in less time?
The trick: interval training.
While interval training (typically short-bursts of as-intense-as-you-can-handle activity for under a minute, followed by a short period of recovery) has long been part of the training of elite athletes, it has recently become more common among the non-pro athletes among us – and for good reason! Not only will the short bursts of high-intensity activity keep you from succumbing to any sense of boredom by keeping you on your toes (literally), but studies have also shown that exercisers who incorporate intervals can burn up to three times as much body fat as those who do steady training, in the same amount of time.
A study published in The Journal of Physiology actually found that subjects who did high-intensity, short-burst training for 2.5 hours (including rest periods) over a two-week period displayed the same exercise-induced changes as the subjects who did steady endurance training for 10.5 hours over the same two-week period.
Fitness expert, Lacey Stone, calls interval training “one of the most effective training systems in the world today” and it is the way she instructs all of her clients. As Lacey explains, “intervals disrupt your body’s stasis, preventing it from settling into a state of comfort. Your body works a lot harder trying to catch up, thereby helping you to crush body fat, gain muscles and still maintain a lean body.”
So, where do you start? Whether you’re training on a treadmill, running on the road, biking, on the stairmaster, in the pool or even on the elliptical, begin by incorporating short-burst, can’t-talk sprints into your fitness routine. Start with 30-second intervals that take you out of your comfort zone, followed by a 1-minute period of recovery (either by decreasing your pace or even stopping). As your fitness level improves, challenge yourself more by slowly increasing the amount of time at your highest-intensity, gradually decreasing your recovery time, and increasing the number of repetitions you do.
Just remember: just because you’ll accomplish more, in less time, this shouldn’t feel like an easy-way-out. Those intervals should hurt – a lot.