Remember a while back Crabby wrote a nagging post about how you might want to start doing some strength training? Well, this is going to be a similar post, on interval training.
It will only hurt for about thirty seconds or so, then you'll feel much better afterwards.
So, are you warmed up and ready to go?
Interval training, as you may have heard, requires short bursts of "very intense" exercise, followed by "recovery" periods. (These "recovery" periods do not, however, require supportive meetings in church basements, bad coffee, or turning anything over to a higher power. Just gasping for air and cursing).
Here's how it works:
After you've warmed up a bit, you go for it: you haul ass and go all out for a short period of time. How long? From about 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on whom you ask. Crabby recommends you start with 30 seconds, because, hell, if some experts say that's enough, then that's good enough for Crabby.
So if you generally do brisk walking for exercise, then during this 30 seconds you would run. Or ascend a steep nasty hill at a fast pace. Or at least waddle with much more velocity than usual and swing your arms in a more frantic fashion.
If you normally run, you sprint. You get the idea.
Then, after you start to feel somewhat miserable, but before you actually perish from exhaustion, you slow down again. Hooray, it's time for the recovery part!
But not forever. Not long enough for your heart rate to go all the way down to resting again. And, unfortunately, you have to repeat this whole cycle several times. Again, the advice varies on how often. At least one of the studies mentioned below said 4-6 times, so we'll go with that. Let's say four. (Others advocate eight, but screw them. We don't want to do that many).
Why on earth would you do interval training, other than masochism?
Well, for one thing, you get a tremendous training effect in a very short amount of time. One study, for example, found that four to six 30-second bursts of "all out" cycling interspersed with 4 minutes of recovery equaled the benefits of 90-120 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity cycling each day.
Coolio. That would save a lot of time.
However, there's more to it than the time savings. Want to know some of the great things interval training can do? How about: burn fat, build stronger lungs and heart, add more mitochondria to muscles (this is a good thing, even though mitochondria sound scary), build lactic acid tolerance (also good), and increase the release of human growth hormone, making you feel young and frisky. (Read this article and the research cited therein if you think Crabby is just making this sh*t up).
Crabby needs to get better about interval training. She does it, sort of, unofficially. She maxes out when the music gets good, or a hill comes along, or a mean dog lunges at her. But given all the nifty benefits she could get by doing it less haphazardly, she resolves to get a bit more serious about figuring out a Program and a Schedule.
Don't do this if you're just starting out exercising or if you have any health problems. It's intense; that's the point. Check with your doctor, blah, blah, blah.
Don't do it every workout. Start with once a week.
This also might be a good time to think about a heart rate monitor to track your exertion, so you don't kill yourself.
And here are a few random sources of more information on interval training; you can probably find many more through google, your local library or bookstore, or by asking that cute buffed trainer at the gym you've been wanting to chat up anyway.
Is this something you already do? Something you'd consider... when hell freezes over? Anything else on your minds? Crabby loves comments.