Many of us will freely admit that cardiovascular exercise is not our favourite thing in the world to do. However, the benefits of cardio far outweigh our indifference to this form of exercise. Besides providing us with the much sought-after benefit of weight loss, cardio is also beneficial as it reduces stress, increases bone density, provides us with stronger hearts and lungs, gives our bodies more energy, reduces our risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, sets a great example for our family members to stay active and gives us increased confidence about our bodies and appearance.
The most effective form of cardio exercise to do if you are interested in weight loss is interval training. Why? Interval training burns more calories as it increases your metabolism and keeps your body burning fat for hours after you have finished exercising. In addition, interval training increases your fitness levels and decreases your recovery time, which enables you to stay active for longer and train harder.
One of the main reasons people do not like cardio exercise is because they find it boring and monotonous. Below is a list of interval training exercises that are guaranteed to keep you interested!
Stop & Go – Interval Training
- Sprint for 30 seconds, then walk/jog for 30 seconds. Repeat this for 10- 15 minutes.
- Sprint for 15 seconds, then jog for 15 seconds, then walk for 15 seconds. Repeat this for 10 minutes.
- Swim as fast as you can for 25 metres, then swim slowly for 25 metres. Repeat this set 15 times.
- Squat as many times as you can for 30 seconds, then walk or jog for 30 seconds. Lunge as many times as you can for 30 seconds, then walk or jog for another 30 seconds. Repeat this set 5 times.
- Pedal on a bike as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then pedal slowly for 30 seconds. Continue for 10 minutes.
- Skip at full intensity for 15 seconds, then skip at a normal pace for 15 seconds. Continue for 10 minutes.
- Walk at a high incline for 2 minutes, then decrease the incline for 1 minute. (This is best performed on a treadmill, however you can walk up a hill.)
Tips to Maximise your Interval Training to Increase your Weight Loss
- After a few weeks or months of doing your internal training, you may find your body weight plateauing. Here are a few tips to avoid this from happening:
- Try to stay active and not rest during your entire cardio workout, as constant movement will provide your muscles with blood flow and oxygen. The more you move your body, the more kilojoules you will burn. In between sets, mix up your workout by treating yourself to a set of push-ups or abdominal curls or some star jumps or jogging on the spot, instead of staying stationary.
- Start to increase your intervals by adding resistance to make them harder. For example, try sprinting up an incline, such as a hill, instead of sprinting on flat ground. If you are working out on a treadmill, increase the incline with the simple push of a button.
- Crank up the knob on your exercise bike to a harder level, or alternatively, bike ride up a hill.
- Lengthen your intervals to increase the amount of kilojoules that you burn during and after your cardio workout. Try running at a fast pace for five minutes, then jogging for five minutes. If five minutes seems like a long time for you, start small and build your way up, running at a speed just below a sprint for one minute, then two minutes etc until you work your way up to five minutes. It will take less time to build up to this length of time than you think it will! Repeat this twice, then jog to cool down.
- Keep your body guessing. Mix up your intensity-to-rest ratios to keep your body from getting bored and predicting what you are going to do next. When your body cannot anticipate what you are going to do next, it cannot adapt and therefore has to work harder. Hence your body stays in the fat burning zone for longer. Sprint, pedal, swim or walk fast for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Then mix this up by sprinting, pedalling, swimming or walking for two minutes at a fast speed, then resting for one minute.
Interval training starts in your headspace
Keep your motivation up by thinking about all the kilojoules that you will burn during your workout and all the kilojoules that your body will continue to burn for hours after you finish working out! Give interval training a try, it’s almost as addictive as Pilates!