If you’re one of the many people struggling to keep up in the fast-paced world of cell phones, pagers, and laptops, with little time left for fitness, then intervals may be just what you’re looking for…
For years, we’ve all heard if you want to lose fat you need to spend endless hours on a treadmill or riding a bike. But thanks to new discoveries in cardiovascular training, that’s no longer the case. Comparisons have shown that intervals (short bursts of get-out-of-breath sprints) are superior to aerobics (long, slow distance training) for fat loss!
Interval training stimulates your body to release “growth hormone,” or HGH. This hormone is responsible for height growth in children, but once you finish growing, it changes roles. HGH is the anti-aging hormone in adults; it signals the body to burn fat and grow muscle. Researchers have shown that a 30 second all-out sprint can increase HGH by as much as 530 percent!
Intervals also protect your muscles so you don’t use them for fuel. This type of training drives your muscles to exert a lot of force. So rather than use them for energy, your body burns more fat, thereby “sparing” your hard earned muscle. This effect is evident if you compare the physique of a top sprinter to that of a top marathon runner.
Another benefit is the “metabolic” effect… Whenever you begin exercising your metabolism speeds up, and then it slows back down when you finish. But with interval training, your metabolism remains elevated, sometimes for as long as 24 hours; so you’re burning fat all day long! The same can not be said for aerobics – once you stop, your body returns to your normal resting metabolism.
One of the more popular interval programs is the “Sprint 8 Program”. In essence, it’s a 20 minute workout consisting of eight 30 second sprints with one and a half to two minutes of rest in between.
It can be done by swimming, inline skating, running, power-walking, cycling or even running the bleachers at Santa Barbara City College (where you’ll find me). You can also use your favorite cardio machine – the stair stepper, treadmill, cycle, or elliptical trainer.
If you’re ready for a fitness transformation, then begin with a 10 minute warm-up and gradually ramp up your speed on the first three sprints. Be sure to slow down for at least 90 seconds between sprints to recover for the next one. After completing the first three sprints, push yourself as hard as possible on the rest. Then finish with 10 minute cool down. This program works best if done every other day.
Interval training definitely requires a bit of motivation to crank up the intensity. But if you’re looking to embrace a healthier lifestyle, and are short on time, intervals are the way to go!