How can we push through our cardiovascular plateaus? There are a number of options to try and interval training is one of them.
What is Interval Training exactly?
This is a type of training that involves a series of high intensity exercises that increase the heart rate followed by a lower intensity exercise or active rest movement. This cardio method is a great way to train as it is extremely simple and can be performed with numerous exercises or just one type of exercise.
A straightforward exercise bike interval session would be something similar to:
Warm Up: 5-10 minutes 65-70 RPM
STAGE 1: 1-2 minutes 80 RPM
Recovery: 3-4 minutes 70 RPM
STAGE 2: 4-5 minutes 85 RPM
Recovery: 5-6 minutes 70 RPM
STAGE 3: 6-7 minutes 90 RPM
Recovery: 8-9 minutes 75 RPM
STAGE 4: 9-10 minutes 100 RPM
Recovery: 10-11 minutes 75 RPM
STAGE 5: 11-12 minutes 100 RPM
Final Recovery: 5 - 10 minutes 60 RPM
RPM (Revolutions per minute)
*Factor in resistance levels to ensure completion of the workout*
Monitoring the heart rate during timed intervals will ensure a more controlled measurement of progress for future workouts. Running, jumping rope, rowing or swimming for less impact on the joints are great options as well. These various types of cardio exercises paired with this method are basically lifting weights for the heart and allows for the ability to burn more calories compared to steady state cardio methods. Another benefit is that it can increase our VO2 max! An increase in VO2 max allows us to take in more oxygen while exercising and enhances our capability to sustain larger spans of aerobic effort. In other words...MORE GAS IN THE TANK! Paired with regular exercise, a raise in HDL cholesterol which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and a decrease in waist circumference. This method of training may be more effective at inducing fat loss than simply training at a moderate intensity for the same duration. This is due to the metabolism-boosting effects of high intensity intervals.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This brings us to another interval training technique called HIIT or “High Intensity Interval Training”. These workouts last under 30 minutes and have similar cardiovascular benefits to traditional interval training. The high intensity portion should be done at near maximum intensity while the recovery should be at around 50% intensity or resting (1 - 2 minutes) after the last exercise in the circuit is completed. The number of repetitions and length of each exercise depends on the difficulty of the movement, but may be as little as three repetitions with just 20 seconds of intense exercise.
Here is an example of a HIIT workout:
Perform (20 - 30 seconds) with each exercise
*Rest ( 1-2 minutes )*
This basic example can be performed for 3 - 5 rounds depending on fitness levels or time allowed for the workout. This is a body weight HIIT circuit, however, weighted exercises are an option for those hoping for a greater challenge. Do keep in mind that as you go through each round, fatigue may set in, so pay close attention to form and weight as you complete your workout.
So, these are two simple twists on cardio and overall conditioning that will increase intensity levels to push through fitness plateaus because let's face it…the body is remarkable and the mind even more so. If we're able to push through our moments of wanting to quit…we can become that much stronger. “There is no progress without struggle”and Interval Training can help you to achieve even more!!!