A Beginners Guide to Interval Workout Routines
Any person can benefit from interval training, and the benefits are many. Among them are improved overall fitness and strength, as well as increased speed and endurance. But be warned, it is not for the frail. You need to prepare yourself physically because a 15 minute interval session is more demanding than a 3 mile run. If you are new to exercise or have been sedentary for a number of years, you should consult your doctor before you embark on this demanding workout routine.
How fast should I go?
An important component of interval training is intensity. Often beginners don't exercise hard enough to maximize the benefits because it feels uncomfortable. An easy way to gage this is a 1-10 scale. A 1 would be sitting on your couch in your living room watching a movie. A 5 would be a slow jog and a 10 would be running from a 600 pound gorilla wielding a machete.
Often, high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout routines want you to exercise at a 9 or 10, but if you are a beginner or have done nothing but ride a desk for the last decade, breaking into an all out sprint might cause quite a shock to your system. Try to keep it around an 8-8.5 during your first few workouts, to let your body get accustomed to the speed.
Also keep in mind that a 10 for you is not a 10 for Usain Bolt or Jackie Joyner Kersey, both Olympic athletes. Going all out for you may mean walking as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then you are out of breath. Just go a little less than all out and that should be about an 8.5.
There is a difference between the strain of exerting yourself and the pain of injury. Many novice exercisers have a hard time distinguishing between the two. You will get used to the feeling of being out of breath and you will learn to tell the difference.
It's only 15 minutes!
O.K., here's the warning again. When you do HIIT it will be uncomfortable! It is supposed to be that way. If you are a beginner, 15 minutes is going to feel like a couple hours. Trust your timer. It is only 15 minutes. Though you may feel your timer is broken, it isn't.
Where to start?
When you are starting your first HIIT workout routine, you should start with about 6 sets of exercise periods of about 30 seconds, followed by rest periods of about a minute. As the weeks go on, your objective is to decrease your rest time while maintaining your intensity during the exercise period, and increasing the number of sets to 8.
Is warming up really necessary?
YES! IT IS! Unless you want to pull something, tear something, be really sore, or want your heart pounding out of your chest, you need to jog for about 5 minutes and do some light stretching.
Likewise, you need to do the same thing to cool down after your workout to keep yourself from getting sore and to keep your heart from coming to a screeching halt after you finish. I'm exaggerating a little, but you need cool down for your own good.