High Intensity Interval Training

How often does something come around that actually
requires less from us and gives us more?


Fanny and Yogi doing their Interval Training

This is cardiovascular exercise at its best.  It is better for your body, it takes less time, it is more interesting, it works with any age and fitness level, and it strengthens your heart and lungs in a way that is not only safer but more effective.

The truth is, just try it for 3 months and you will feel better and healthier, regardless of your age and health.

In a Nutshell:
This works for any cardiovascular activity whether you are using equipment like a bike or treadmill or out-of-doors biking, jogging, or walking.   It works for any age and fitness level because the intensity is relative to your fitness level.  What makes my heart rate increase and body start to sweat will require a different level of intensity than one of my 80 year old clients, but the effect is the same.   (Use the “manual” setting when using a machine like a treadmill, that way you are in charge of changing the speed and incline).  You will utilize a commonly known scale of exertion called Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE).  On a scale of 1-10, 1 represents least exerted and 10 being all out exertion.

The frequency that is best is 2 times a week.  The entire session takes about 30 minutes.

I will use walking as the first example.

  • You set off from your house or perhaps you are in a park and you walk at a comfortable pace for 3-5 minutes, this is your warm-up.
  • You then increase your speed, you walk as fast as you can for 1 minute (level 6-8 on RPE scale).
  • You then slow your pace (level 4-5) back to a comfortable walk for 2 minutes, this is a period known as recovery (it is the most important part of the session).
  • You then repeat this ratio of 1 minute High Intensity to 2 minutes low intensity for 5-8 times.
  • End the session with 3-5 minutes of slow to moderate walking.
  • Remember to do some stretches at the end (ex. legs, calves, back , I will do a future posts on stretching).

Remember to Stretch

This is easy easy easy and takes no time.

How high is High Enough? What RPE of 6-8 feels like.

  • You should be somewhat breathless and winded,
  • and still be able to talk.
  • You should begin to sweat by the 2nd or 3rd interval.
  • You should definitely experience an increased heart rate (as long as you adhere to the recovery time, your heart rate will be able to recover from the high intensity, ***this is very important*** because it is the heart’s ability to recover from exertion that makes it stronger and healthier, not simply elevating your heart rate.)  This is why the long/slow duration of cardiovascular exercise that so many people desperately cling to, is not as effective at strengthening the heart.
  • The heart needs variety.

Give Yourself Time
It is very important to get to know your own body, and to work within its limits.  Never push your body into places that truly feel wrong, only you can decide what that is.  The best advice is to start slow and give yourself time to learn about your own body.

This is a great workout for all ages.  And can be as challenging as you want to make it.

What Running might look like as High Intensity Interval Training

  • 3-5 minute walk or light jog
  • 1 minute sprint (use a hill, there is nothing better than going up hills for your heart)
  • 2 minute light jog (get creative and instead of jogging the whole time, throw a yoga posture into your recovery period, or pushups…before you know it, it will be time to sprint up the hill again)


    Fanny During Rest and Recovery

  • 1 minute sprint etc. etc. etc.
  • 3-5 minute cool down

And when it is all done
The most important part of exercise is Rest and Recovery

This is Simple
What is astounding to me is the resistance I come up against when teaching this method of cardiovascular exercise to someone who is convinced that they must do an hour of cardio in order to see results.  Most people out there are not preparing for competition, they are just normal people, who need exercise to keep their body healthy.   This is important to keep in mind, because the fitness industry is way out of balance and it completely caters to a much younger population.   Keep exercise simple, by making it more a part of your life rather than something separate.  (I will do future posts on how to incorporate more movement and presence into your life.)

A Balanced fitness Routine is one that becomes a part of your life, you simply are more active and include periods like High Interval Training into your life along with strength exercises like squats and pushups and flexibility exercises.