The importance of aerobic exercise on health and weight management has been found numerous times in academic studies, but sometimes, spending 60 minutes on the elliptical can be as fun as going to the in-laws for dinner.
Long Slow Distance (LSD) training, otherwise known as low intensity aerobic exercise, is important to include into your workout regime, but sometimes our time is cut short and we want the most bang for our buck when it comes to calories burned. This is where interval training steps in…
…and forget about the “fat-burning” zone – that was like, so 80s.
Other studies have found that shorter, high-intense workouts can have similar physiological changes compared to longer low-intense workouts. This serves great for you because your workouts can be shorter and less boring but I’ll warn you now – they’re not going to be easier!
Here are 5 ways to fire up your cardio workouts…I promise you won’t be bored!
1. Go the distance
Let’s face it, some training days can feel like a million bucks while others can feel like a dirty diaper. Instead of timing your intervals, go by how much distance you cover. This will accommodate for daily fluctuations in energy levels and will give you something different to focus on.
The Workout: Set your treadmill to distance mode. Choose a set distance to cover per interval, say ¼ mile, ½ mile or mile. Run that distance as fast as you can. Follow that with an active rest (easy jog) running the same distance as the “hard” interval.
For example, run a ¼ mile and jog a ¼ mile. Repeat for 20 minutes. Boom. Now pick yourself up off the floor and hit the showers.
2. Do the time
Timing your intervals is one of the most common methods of interval training. The “Tabata Protocol” has exploded since its inception in 1996. This form of high-intense interval training is only 4 minutes long and is broken up into 20- and 10-second intervals. Basically, give ’er for 20-seconds and rest for 10. Repeat until the 4-minutes is up. There’s one stipulation though, the hard is meant to be at 170% max VO2, basically meaning 100x harder than balls-out. This is obviously SUPER intense and is quite difficult even for the fittest beast out there. Here’s a protocol to help you get to beast mode in 6-weeks.
The Workout: On a spin bike, set the resistance to balls-out. In the academic study where the 20-10 protocol was tested, the subjects were seated for the entire protocol – you can either sit or stand or use a treadmill – it doesn’t matter, as long as the effort is maxed.
Perform each workout twice each week. Begin and end each session with 5-minutes at an easy pace.
Week 1-2: Start with the opposite – 10-seconds hard and 20-seconds easy. Repeat for 4-minutes.
Week 3: Progress to 15-seconds hard and 15-seconds easy. Repeat for 4-minutes.
Week 4: Progress to 20-seconds hard and 20-seconds easy. Repeat for 8-rounds. This will be slightly greater than the usual 4-minutes.
Week 5: Drop the break to 15-seconds and stick with the 20-seconds hard. Perform 8-rounds.
Week 6: Here we go! 20-seconds hard and 10-seconds-easy. Perform 8-rounds for four minutes of fat-loss hell.