Monday, May 25, 2009

Gotta Love Intervals

Interval Cardio:Interval training is a great way to relieve the boredom of steady-state cardiovascular exercise, has great cardiovascular benefits, and is also more time-efficient and effective for fat loss. Interval training consists of alternating between periods higher intensity work (such as sprinting, or bicycling at a very fast pace) and lower intensity "recovery" work (walking or light jogging, or slower pedaling, for example). Because of the intense nature of the "working" periods of interval training, the body's response is very similar to that of a weight-training session in that the hormones released during the workout tend to boost the metabolism for a period of about 12 to 36 hours. This effect is not possible with longer duration, slower paced cardio, as the body returns to its normal resting rate almost immediately upon finishing this type of exercise. This is the concept of Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) that some of you may have learned from Chris' nutrition seminars. As the body consumes oxygen, it uses calories (generally, these calories come from fat stores, as fat oxidizes more efficiently in the presence of increased oxygen in the body) to oxygenate the blood and carry nutrients to body tissues. If the amount of oxygen consumed is higher, so too is the number of calories burned. So, by doing intervals for a period of 20 minutes, you can effectively elevate your metabolism, and an increased resting metabolic rate (RMR), simply put, burns more calories, and helps you lose weight. Interval training, aside from allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day, can also burn more calories than a steady-paced workout if enough effort is put into the working periods.All of this metabolism, EPOC discussion may have left you thinking "That's great science, but how do I use it?" Well, look no further!

Beginner's Interval Training Plan:-warm-up with 5-10 minutes of walking or light jogging-sprint as fast as possible for a period of 30 seconds-jog at a light pace for 1 minute-repeat for a total of 5 intervals (meaning that you sprint 5 times, and recover 5 times)-cool down with another 5 minutes of walking or light joggingThis whole routine should take no longer than 30 minutes, and will yield greater fat-loss than a much lengthier cardio session at a slow, steady pace.As you advance and adapt to this type of exercise, gradually begin to increase your number of intervals to 10, and also slowly increase the duration of your working periods to about 1 minute when you feel that you need more of a challenge and are able to handle that level of intensity. Remember, intervals do not neccessarily need to be done with running, but can also be done on a bike, elliptical, stair-climber, or cross-trainer. The most important thing is to alternate between very high intensity work periods and lower-intensity recovery periods. The mode of exercise here is up to you.Steve Decker

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