Despite my lifelong-love of distance running, when I’m not in a training cycle, I’m doing interval workouts.
What’s an interval workout?
An interval workout includes periods of time or certain exercises that require high effort along with low-intensity exercises or rest periods. The idea is that you want to work hard for a bit and then back off for a bit. An interval workout will ramp up your heart rate and then give you a short recovery period.
An interval workout is sometimes called a circuit workout. A circuit is a group of exercises performed in a particular order.
How are interval workouts organized?
There are two basic types of interval workouts. One requires you to perform a set number of repetitions of a particular exercise before moving on to the next exercise. The other is time-based, where you perform exercises for a certain amount of time before moving on to the next exercise.
Three reasons you should be doing interval workouts
- They’re short
If you want a workout that lets you know you’ve exercised but it doesn’t take all day, interval workouts are for you. Because the high intensity portions of the workout require intense effort, you cannot sustain that level of effort very long. Even with the rest or recovery periods, interval workouts demand your all. You can get a muscle-burning workout in less than 30 minutes.
- You don’t need any equipment or a gym membership
An effective interval workout can be done in your own home. Exercises that use you’re your bodyweight can serve as the basis of your interval workouts. Check out my series of interval workouts I’ve posted here at Running on Balance.
- Interval workouts are flexible and adapt as you get more fit
If you’re doing a reps based workout, as your fitness improves you’re able to complete the workout faster. To continue to challenge yourself, add another circuit of exercises to see if you can complete the workout in the original amount of time.
If you’re doing a time-based workout, as your fitness improves you’ll be able to complete more repetitions of each exercise in the fixed amount of time. This increase in total amount of reps is known as “volume”- – your total workout volume should grow as you get more fit.
BONUS: Interval workouts are ideal for women over 40
Rare is it that we women over 40 get good news, but I get to deliver some right now! Interval workouts, with their high intensity efforts and short overall time commitment are ideal for perimenopausal women. The hard effort helps to burn cortisol (a stress hormone that can cause weight gain around the midsection) and keep balance in the adrenal glands. Furthermore, by getting hot and sweaty we boost production of the hormone that helps us burn more calories. Best of all, the short workouts fit with the time demands on those of us working, raising kids, tending aging parents, and generally running the world.
So if you still think you’re too busy to exercise, give an interval workout a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how great you feel after working hard.
Good health and great happiness to you.
P.S. My six-week guided Balance Virtual Bootcamp is made up of interval workouts. You need a few pieces of basic equipment for some of the workouts, but you can do them all right in your own home. Plus, they’ll all get you hot, sweaty, and finished with your workout in less than 30 minutes!