In last week's blog Heart Health Basics 101 we discussed the function of the heart and simple steps you can take daily to improve heart health. Today we are going to take a look at one of our favorite ways to improve your cardio and heart health. It’s effective, efficient and requires no equipment.
In reality most people have a limited amount of time to exercise. After working long hours in a stressful environment, family time and household chores there aren't many hours left in the day to workout, if any! Heading out for a long distance run to get fit is completely out of the equation, but that may not be a bad thing. There are more efficient ways you can improve your cardio and your joints will thank you too - Interval training.
Before we get into interval training it's important to understand it may not be an appropriate starting point for everyone, but it can be great for a lot of people. Assess and understand where you are and your current fitness level. When it comes to health and fitness there is never a one size fits all approach, everyone is starting in a different place and level. For example, if you are overweight and/or have health problems and notice you get winded easily, start small. Avoid diving head first into HIIT workouts, instead walk consistently daily and build up your tolerance. We often find people go too hard too fast, end up disheartened and give up. Start where you are and gradually increase the level of difficulty over time.
With new fitness trends, classes and studios popping up every month you may feel you need to follow, join or attend them all to get started or achieve your goals but the good news is you don't! All you need is 20-30 minutes and space to move in, you can be at home, outdoors or in the gym. When it comes to improving heart health you don't need fancy equipment, expensive classes or whatever is trending at that moment. All you need is a timer and a basic understanding of interval training. The most important thing is that you actually start moving and train your heart.
What is Interval training?
Interval training is a form of exercise that involves bursts of work at a high intensity followed by rest/recovery periods. This trains the heart to become more efficient as it alternates between working hard and recovering. Interval training is our favorite approach to improving cardio. This approach is efficient, you can get a lot done in 20 minutes. Depending on your goals and fitness level your interval training may be aerobic (HITT) or anaerobic (SIT). When starting interval training the most important thing to understand when it comes to planning your workout is the work to rest ratio.
How to do Interval Training
Trying interval training for the first time? Start with a 1:4 or 1:3 work to rest ratio. Pick an exercise and go!! Here are some ideas you can try at home: alternating lunges/ air squats/ skipping/ burpees/ jump jacks ect.
Example workout could look like:
5 minute warm up
Complete 3-5 rounds:
20 sec: Alternating Lunges
60 sec: Rest
20 sec: Burpees
60 sec: Rest
If you are more advanced try: 1:1 or 2:1 work to rest ratio. You can also add a short Tabata to the end of your weight training workouts as a finisher.
Example finisher could be:
Now that you have a basic understanding of the concept of interval training you can start incorporating it into your week! Remember to start where you are with what you have, it doesn't need to be fancy, all you need to do is manipulate your work to rest ratios. If you are planning on hitting the gym and normally use the treadmill try incorporating the erg or spin bike this week for a new challenge.
Benefits of Interval Training:
- It Improves heart health - during interval training the heart is challenged forcing it to adapt and become more efficient.
- It's time efficient - working at a higher intensity means you don't need to work for a long period of time, you can make improvements to your heart health training in much shorter durations.
- It requires no equipment - all you need is a timer. Interval training can be done anywhere at any time. Whether you're at home, in the gym, in a hotel room it doesn't matter, all you need to do is pick a movement that challenges you and go!
- It helps burn more calories - HITT can burn significantly more calories than steady state cardio for the same workout duration.
- It's more fun and engaging - with so many interval training protocols and exercise options, interval training keeps boredom at bay. You can switch up the exercise or work to rest ratio as desired to stay motivated!
- It improves your aerobic capacity - this makes day-to-day activities easier (climbing stairs etc.) but that's not all! It means you will be able to continuously do more and push harder in your training sessions.
Sounds pretty good, right? With interval training you can train for half the time and reap all the benefits listed above and more. What are you waiting for, start today!!
What are your favorite exercises to add into your HIIT workouts? Share this with your workout partner and get your HIIT workout in today!