Too often we get comfortable with our weight training and cardio programs. Many people tend to just “do cardio” with little structure or thought put into the process. They simply go running or hopping on an elliptical trainer for a designated amount of time. The cardio portions of our workouts seem to lack the consideration and creativity that we devote to our strength and muscle development, but this can slow down your progress. Changing the dynamics of your workouts challenges your body and helps you progress your fitness level for both weight training as well as for your cardio workouts. Swapping out a steady intensity level cardio day—like running 3 miles at a 6 minute pace—with an INTERVAL day or two can provide you with the boost you need to lose weight, drop body fat and increase your performance level.

What is INTERVAL TRAINING?  Interval training involves doing short bursts of a high-intensity cardio activity that is immediately followed by a short period of low intensity cardio or moving rest—though you are still moving you are allowing you heart rate to slow down and prepare for another high-intensity INTERVAL. This process is repeated over-and-over again for a designated amount of time.

Here is how you can add interval training into your cardio program!

Try doing your high-intensity intervals for 2 minutes, and then rest for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Repeat the process for a total of 20 to 30 minutes. This is basically a 4:3 ratio, so if you want to do longer intervals you can opt to do the high-intensity portion for 4 minutes and rest for 3 minutes. Your interval intensities and the lengths at which you do them is dependent upon your personal fitness level, as well as your fitness goal.

Cardio Interval Examples* Cardio Interval Intensity/Rest Interval Intensity Cardio Interval time/Rest Interval time Total Cardio/Rest time
Stationary Bike Cardio = Level 12 @ 105-120 rpms or 18-20 mph……Rest = Level 2 @ 105-120 rpms or 8-12 mph Cardio = 2 min……Rest = 1:30 min. Total time = 21 min.
Running Cardio = Run 8 mph @ at 0-2.0 incline……Rest = Walk 2.8 mph @ 0-2.0 incline Cardio = 2 min……Rest = 1:30 min. Total time = 21 min.
Elliptical Machine Cardio = Level 12 @ 105-120 rpms……Rest = Level 2 @ 105-120 rpms Cardio = 2 min……Rest = 1:30 min. Total time = 21 min.

Cardio Interval Training Steps Overview

1.       Set the level and go fast enough so that you become fatigued after 2 minutes of the activity.

2.       Lower the setting and slow down to a very easy pace, so you’re resting but you are still moving as you catch your breath. Prepare for your next interval…and after resting for 1 minute and 30 seconds, raise the levels again for your next cardio interval.

3.       Repeat the process for 20 to 30 minutes.

4.       Grab a towel and a drink (e.g. water or low-calorie sports drink) when you’re finished…you’ll need it.

*This table is intended to be used only as an example, your intensity levels should be adjusted according to your personal fitness level. Also, this article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your primary care physician.



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