Interval training is a great way to maximise your workout, even when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s not something that is just done when running or at the gym, it can be done for a whole range of activities. There are a lot of terms often thrown around interval training including HIIT, walk/run, Tabata, and fartlek.
So, what does it all mean and how you can use interval training to keep you active and healthy? Simple put interval training comprises of hard efforts with periods of recovery between them. Interval training can be a anything from a well-structured workout consisting of 10x 1 minute hard/ 1 minute easy or a more casual jog until you get tired and walk until you are ready to go again.
Here are a few terms that are common when talking about interval training:
- HIIT- (High Intensity Interval Training): Short but intense periods of exercise, followed by rest periods
- Tabata: A specific type of HIIT, consisting of 8×20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy per exercise- so 4 minutes per exercise
- Fartlek: Swedish for ‘speed play’- runs with various burst of fast efforts (varying throughout the run)
We’ve put a few examples of how you can structure some interval training into your weekly activities, or find out more about them in person through one of our FREE classes:
- 30 minute running interval workout: 5 minutes warming up (can be walking or jogging), 20 minutes consisting of 1 minute hard one minute easy, 5 minutes cooling down. Aim for your ‘hard’ efforts to be consistent- don’t sprint and use up all your energy on the first one, and go as easy as you need during the ‘easy’- even if it is a walk.
- 1000m swimming interval workout: Swim 200m consisting of varying strokes and drills to get warmed up. Then complete: 50 hard/ 50 easy + 100 hard/ 100 easy + 50 hard/ 50 easy + 100 hard/ 100 easy. Finish with 200m cooling down- and there is your KM of swimming complete.
- 30 minute gym interval workout. Following a warm up choose 3 exercises (ideally ones that are close together and don’t require much setting up). Complete 5 rounds of 20 repetitions of an exercise, followed by 30 seconds rest, before moving to the next exercise. Make sure to adjust your weights as you will do doing 100 reps of each exercise by the end! Ensure you have a good cool down as this one is bound to get your heart racing!
- 40 minute walk interval workout. This one requires being a bit creative. Start by warming up for 10 minutes. Then for 20 minutes you are going to alternative easy walking with efforts of harder walking (just hard enough that you might have difficulty holding a conversation). Instead of timing the efforts use what’s around you to guide the efforts: mailbox to mailbox easy then light post to light post hard. You’re bound to have some longer efforts and some shorter ones- but it all counts!
As you can see there is no limit to the creativity you can have when incorporating interval training into your workouts. As with all types of exercise try find something you enjoy doing, and it bound to go quicker! Shooting some basketball hoops might turn into 3 shots with 10 push ups in between or practising bringing a skipping rope for a 30 second skip every 5 minutes walking. If you have never tried interval training before, make sure to consult a medical or exercise professional to get you started.
NQSF Program Coordinator