Aerobic Interval Training Made Simple (and Fun!)

In my previous post I discussed the basics and benefits of aerobic interval training. So now you know why you should interval train, but how do you incorporate it into your fitness program? First, before beginning aerobic interval training, you should have a base of cardio fitness and be capable of exercising aerobically for 15 minutes without stopping. 

So how hard should you work during interval training? During the intervals (active rest periods) you should be “comfortably aerobic” where you’re able to hear yourself breathing but not have enough wind to sing. During the repeats (the heavier exercise periods) your breathing should be quite labored. If your goal is to improve your aerobic fitness, one interval workout in combination with your regular continuous aerobic workouts should suffice.  If you are a competitive athlete, you may benefit from two interval workouts per week (on non-consecutive days) depending on your sport.

There are several ways to incorporate interval training, all you need is a little imagination:

•          Timed intervals

 Using a stop watch, alternate picking up your pace ) for 2-5 minutes with 2-5 minutes of light exercise in between.

•          Landmarks or Pool Lengths

Use landmarks (i.e. telephone poles or city blocks) or if in the pool use pool lengths to alternate your intensity. Walk or run a block or travel the length or width of a pool at a vigorous pace and then back off your pace or a block or length, alternating as you go, without stopping.

•          Heart Rate Monitor

Use a heart monitor to determine when to begin/end your intervals by exercising hard until you reach the high end of your training zone and then resuming hard exercise again only when you’ve returned to 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

•        Pyramid Workout (for any form of aerobic exercise):

After a 5-to 7-minute warmup, exercise hard for 1 minute, followed by 1 minute of easy exercise, then 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy, 3/3, 4/4, then drop back down to 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. Finish with a 5-to 7-minute cool down.

•          TV or commercial interval training

If you like to watch TV while exercising, you can do interval training by alternately exercising hard during a TV program and  easy during the commercials. Both consist of approximately two-to-three minute segments.

•          Musical Intervals

Make a CD or a playlist on your Ipod  of your favorite upbeat songs and exercise very vigorously every other song, dropping your intensity during the songs in between.

Be Well,

Carolyn

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