Interval Training – the high’s and low’s of it

My husband Mark help me put this together basically because I’d hit a plateau and couldn’t figure out how to push past it.. My diet had been pretty clean and I thought I was working out hard enough, but we figured out my cardio was the culprit…

Cardio days should be intervals not steady state cardio. Meaning you’re not going to just hop on a treadmill and walk for an hour. This is the area where I had to make a huge adjustment with my training, specifically the intensity. I like most people believed that the best way to burn fat was just walking or running longer not harder. The best thing about intervals is that you burn calories hours after you finished your workout, not just during the workout. With steady state you just burn calories WHILE you’re doing it, a huge difference. When I shortened the workout and increased the intensity, I got better results.

It was tough at first because I never pushed myself hard enough to find that level where I needed to be. The key is to get to a level that’s uncomfortable for you and then taper off – so your heart rate is going up and down. If you’re just starting out then a simple walk/run routine will get you familiar with the training.

The key is understanding how your body feels at the different levels of intensity. The best way to do this is by monitoring your body through the workout. You do this by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale.

It’s a subjective rating system that rates your effort level so you know how hard you’re working. It’s a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being very easy and 10 being maximal effort. Keep in mind, your level 7 might be different than my level 7 in terms of speed or incline, but both of us will be having a hard time talking non-stop.

Level Intensity Ability to Maintain Talk Test(the percieved rates are from Valerie Waters Red Carpet Ready book)

1 – 2 Easy — Easy to maintain for a long period of time can carry on a conversation with no effort

3 – 4 Easy – Moderate—– Possible to maintain with minimal effort can carry on a conversation with min effort .

5 – 6 Moderate —–Possible to maintain but requires work Can maintain conversation with some effort.

7 – 8 Moderate – Difficult —– Difficult to maintain this level of intensity Conversation requires much more effort.

9 – 10 Difficult – Peak Effort —-Difficult to maintain for more than a couple of minutes No talking zone BE CARFUL this level can make you feel sick.

So after you’re used to a walk/run routine or want to change up your routine you can organize the workout a little different. A simple example is a 30 minute workout like this:

Time Type Intensity Level

5 minutes Easy – moderate 3 out of 10
5 minutes Easy – moderate 4 out of 10
5 minutes Moderate 5 – 6 out of 10
5 minutes Easy – moderate 4 out of 10
5 minutes Easy – moderate 3 out of 10
5 minutes easy 2 out of 10
30 minutes

You can build on this and eventually jack up that intensity to a level 7 or 8 instead of a 5 -6 –But remember a good rule of thumb, the more intense the interval, the shorter it will be.

For me I think I never knew how it felt to be at that level 7 or 8 but once I figured it out, I started to get better workouts and I got leaner. Another big step for me was buying a Heart Rate Monitor, then I knew what my heart rate number was when I was at a level 8 or 9 – this is where talking became very difficult –this was then my HIGH number and I could use my Monitor to adjust my intervals.

Remember we’re all going to be different with our numbers and some of us can’t use a formula for calculating max heart rate, I’m one of those people. My resting heart is super low and it fluctuates from day to day, so using a standard formula doesn’t work for me. The TALK TEST is best for me.

So what I did was by using my monitor I did my intervals and tried to push myself hard to get to that level 8 (where talking was REAL tough) once there a read that number on my watch and recorded it –THAT WAS MY TOP NUMBER. Now going forward I can monitor myself using my watch during my intervals.

My plan for a while will be doing an interval for time say 30s try to reach my HIGH number than instead of resting for a specific amount of time just let my heart rate drop 30 beats before I repeat the next interval.

There are so many routines and interval workout options out there, it’s endless. But the key is the intensity –

2 Responses to Interval Training – the high’s and low’s of it

  1. Rachel February 14, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    LA – I hear you on this, especially as I'm NOT a cardio fan. That is why I opted for a guided cardio workout using Cardio Coach
    – I need to be pushed 🙂

  2. Anne Samoilov February 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Leeanne, I've also hit a point where I know I need to do an intensity increase. Cardio is one area I let slide…A LOT. You gave me that interval workout before and I'll start with that one. Maybe I also need to get a monitor of some sort so I know what I am doing…. The Talk Test does work, but I also like to know what my heart rate is too.