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Working Intervals into your Work Out

Interval training

Still feeling full from Thanksgiving? It’s the holiday season packed with big dinners, holiday cookies, and your occasional eggnog. With this increase in calorie intake interval training is a great way to keep the pounds off through this holiday season. Let’s not wait for the New Year to kick-start our workout routines. Interval training consists of low-to-high intensity exercise with rest periods interspersed throughout the routine. Here are some guidelines to follow when introducing interval training into your current routine:

If you’re new to interval training, start slow. If you currently walk for exercise, try mixing in a few short periods of jogging then go back to walking. Allow your body to fully recover before you begin to jog again. If you like jogging currently, try to incorporate a few low level sprints and work up from there.

Start with 3-4 intervals in a routine and build week to week. As you progress, introduce more volume followed by intensity.

Listen to your body. Rate your intervals on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a maximum effort. This will help allow you to track how hard you are working at each interval so you can safely progress to more challenging intensities.

Your work to rest ratio will determine your intensity level. When you’re first getting started, begin with a 1:3 ratio of work/rest. For example, this could be a 20 second sprint followed by 60 seconds of jogging. As you improve, shorten the rest and increase the work to increase your intensity level. Eventually, you could work your way up to a 20 second sprint followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Interval training can also be done as resistance training. Another way to mix up your intervals is to incorporate low load, high repetition resistance training, which means doing a high number of repetitions but with relatively light weights. You can either perform a specific number of repetitions or do repetitions for a specific period of time, it’s your choice. With this type of training, you can decrease the rest time to increase the overall intensity.

Incorporate active rest. Active rest activities such as stretching or walking are great to incorporate into resistance training intervals. They help circulate your blood and move the by-products of resistance training away from your muscles to promote optimal recovery.

Reviewed on December 24, 2020

Jamie Osmak, strength and conditioning specialist

Jamie Osmak is an Exercise Physiologist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Sports Rehabilitation and Performance West Side and HSS Paramus. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach, and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in exercise science from Rutgers University.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.