Few things are more frustrating than exercising regularly but failing to lose weight. Do you hop on the elliptical and zone out with your magazine each morning? Or do you casually jog that same three mile loop around your neighborhood every evening?
If you do the same workout day in and day out, chances are you won’t lose weight. That’s because your body has a good memory. It gets used to doing the same routine over and over and stops responding.
So how do you keep your body guessing and shed those unwanted pounds? Add interval training to your workouts.
Interval training 101
To interval train, all you have to do is alternate spurts of high intensity activity with moderate intensity intervals for an entire exercise session. You can add intensity to workouts by upping the speed, resistance, or incline or by switching to a new activity. For example, try these workouts:
- Speed: Head out to a local park and run for one minute, then walk for one minute, and repeat for a total of 30 minutes.
- Resistance: Pedal on a stationary bike at an easy resistance for 5 minutes, then kick up the resistance a few notches for 2 minutes, and repeat the intervals for 40 minutes.
- Incline: Hop on the treadmill and set the incline to 1.0. Walk at 1.0 for 3 minutes, then up the incline to 5.0 or higher and walk for 2 minutes. Repeat the sequence for a half hour or more.
- Switch to a new activity: Next time you’re out for a brisk walk, shake things up by doing 25 jumping jacks every 5 minutes.
Interval training guarantees results because two minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is about the same as one minute of vigorous exercise. By adding interval training to your routine, you’ll burn more calories than if you exercised at a steady pace. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.
And if that’s not enough to get you aboard the interval training wagon, note that studies also show that interval training burns much more fat than steady exercise.
For even better results
Once you get the hang of interval training, it’s time to tweak your workouts yet again. Small changes to your exercise routine can make a big difference in your body.
For even better results:
- Include longer intervals. High intensity bursts of activity that last for a minute or more use up the most calories. Longer interval sessions are the secret to weight loss.
- And add shorter intervals. Brief spurts of vigorous exercise- lasting about 20 seconds- help your muscles become more efficient.
- Eat before you workout. Having a healthy meal or snack before you exercise is key because it gives you energy to workout harder and longer. Working out on an empty stomach is more likely to leave you feeling fatigued.
Other reasons to add intervals
Weight loss isn’t the only reason to interval train. Regular interval training can also help you:
- Get in better shape. You’ll be able to exercise at a harder intensity for a longer period of time. If you’re a competitive runner and start adding interval training to your weekly workouts, don’t be surprised if your race times improve.
- Save time. Interval training burns more calories and fat than working out at a steady pace. This means you won’t have to work out quite as long to get your desired results. This is a win-win if you’re crunched for time!
- Stave off boredom. How many times have you cut a sweat session short because you were so bored? When doing an interval workout, you’ll constantly be changing things up. This can help the time fly by and keep you motivated.