June 05, 2007

Interval Training Update, Plus a Blog that Rocks

Apologies to those who don't give a crap about intervals.

A second post in two days?

Readers who feel aggrieved may want to just skim through this one (but don't miss the Important Website Recommendation), and then hurry off to a better blog. Or just plop down comfortably into the comments section without absorbing any of this. Interval Training is not a required subject of conversation down there; we'll come up with something better by the end of the post.

So late yesterday morning, Crabby took her own advice and climbed onto the treadmill to actually test out this interval thing. As she mentioned, she already does "interval training," but in a random, haphazard manner. She usually goes extra hard for a couple of minutes during some of her weekly workouts, but she probably only does it two or three times during a session. She isn't really doing it the way the experts advise.

(For more on Crabby's most common form of exercise and why you might not want to be caught dead doing it in public, go here.)

To correct this haphazardness problem, Crabby resolved to be more formal about her interval training. She decided to start with the easiest amount that the experts said would be helpful: thirty second bursts of intense activity, followed by four minutes of moderate activity, repeated four to six times. For her intense phase, she cranked up the treadmill incline to the max and ran as fast as she could uphill. (And she hoped not to fly off the treadmill smack into the wall behind her). For the moderate phase, she walked more slowly uphill.

Here are some things she found:

Thirty seconds felt too short, even for running uphill, so Crabby made it 45 seconds instead.

Four minutes in between was too long and boring, so Crabby just started up again when she felt like it.

Forty five seconds was still short enough that Crabby felt encouraged to do eight repetitions instead of 4-6. She does not necessarily think this will happen next time, and she reserves the right to go back to 4-6.

Crabby's knees were a bit sore when she was done. (This was not a surprise; she has trashed her knees through years of running and it's why she doesn't run very often anymore).

The intervals were fun and the whole workout was over really quickly. (This was a surprise).

It probably wouldn't be fun done more than once a week. (Probably not after the novelty wears off either).

Thirty to forty-five second intervals aren't nearly as exhausting as two minute ones, and so if the experts say you can do them this way, Crabby is all for it. Plus, by the end you still feel good and exercised, with all the kick-ass endorphins that accompany this state.

Bottom line: Crabby likes interval training!

(This week.)

Now for the second part: the blog that rocks.

Crabby is embarrassed to say that she found it once before, thought it was great, may have even commented on it, then forgot to bookmark it. Result: gone entirely from her little crab brain.

But fortunately, Kelly over at Fitness Fixation is smarter, probably because she works out harder and eats fewer cupcakes, so she found Crabby instead. She very generously linked here and reminded Crabby what a great blog Fitness Fixation is.

It's sort of like Cranky Fitness, only better. (But Crabby hopes that you will find room in your heart and on your Favorites for both of us).

These girls (Kelly seems to be the ringleader, but here's also, for example, a great post by Tsan) are funny. Plus they're hardcore (in a good way). They could probably explain this interval thing a lot better than Crabby can.

(Plus, lurking behind the blog is something called the "Ice Chamber." Doesn't it sound sort of medieval and scary, yet at the same time irresistible?)

As promised, Comments will likely veer away from Interval Training as there is only so much one can say about it. So feel free to take a break today, or weigh in on Trying New Things, or Blogs That You've Just Discovered, or Why Exercise Sucks, or Any Old Thing You Can Think Of.


  1. I agree that interval training is good for you -- I just haven't mustered enough energy to try it. I'm lucky I get in 30 minutes of just pedaling on the stationary bike or some walking a few times a week. I do have a new thingy -- called fluidity. I couldn't get it out of the box yet (just trying is a workout!) - but once I do I'll be posting about how it goes. Looks fun if I ever get out of the box. :) Lady Rose

  2. Hi lady rose!
    Fluidity, huh? And it comes in a box? I'm intrigued. When you do finally manage to extricate it you'll have to let us know what it is and whether you like it!

  3. Oh, I've discovered this blog you recommend not long ago... not long at all. I spent some time this past week-end going through all their archives. I guess this tells a lot about what I think of it. ;)

  4. When I first got my treadmill I was doing something vaguely resembling intervals (alternating walking and jogging) and working up to a point where felt like I could actually sustain a jogging pace for a reasonable length of time (five minutes) was a big deal for me because I've always sucked at running (was way out of shape in jr high/high school, despite weighing less).

    But then I got shin splints and I've been keeping it to a walking pace in an attempt to be kind to them. :(

    But I would really really like to get some harder workouts in because I'm not losing weight as fast as my impatient and vain self would like (nobody's saying 'oh my god, where's the rest of you??' yet) and my calorie intake is already at the point where I'm sure my doctor would frown on my reducing it any more (1200), plus that really wouldn't be fun either. So the only thing left in the equation to change is calorie output.

    Maybe if I do a really long, gradual warmup, I can get to a jogging pace again without making my legs want to hurt me later. :/

    Thanks for the link to Fitness Fixation -- that's going in my feed reader. :)

  5. Good for you for experimenting. Find your rhythm and do what works for you.

  6. Hi Kery,
    So you've been checking them out too, huh? Don't know why, but I really like hanging out with girls who can totally kick my ass. When you read their comments, too, all the people who work out there sound really fierce.

    Hi Chickengirl!
    Bummer about the shin splints! Are you a gym rat, and if so, is it any better on an elliptical?

    I do recommend trying the 30-45 second thing with good long breaks in between. I think doing longer intervals makes the whole thing a drag. I like the idea of a shorter but more intense workout once a week, a long endurance once a week, and then whatever feels right the rest of the time.

    And I would die of hunger on 1200 calories a day--good thing you're checking in with your doctor about what makes sense.

    An hi Leah! You're a role model at finding one's own rhythm.

  7. This might be helpful to Chickengirl - I was doing some running a few years back and followed a regime where I only ran every second day. I thought it would take forever to get fit but in fact, I shaped up real quick, plus (this is the biggie you've been waiting for!) I never developed shin splints. Any previous time I'd done much jogging I always did, so that worked for me.

    Since then, the knees have packed up (a bit like the old grey mare) and I just hang around eating cream filled apple donuts!

  8. I just wanted to say that I've been very bad about exercising the last few days, and I really need to get off my butt. Reading your post about interval training reminded me that I can't sit here and grow mold -- it's not good for me! :-D

  9. Hi Dawn,
    Yes, the absolute best cure for shin splints is cream-filled apple donuts! (Or did I get that wrong?)

    And hi Thomma Lyn,
    Well, I've seen enough weird studies out there-there's probably one that says growing mold helps prevent cancer or something, so don't feel to bad about it!

  10. Crabby:

    I'm not a gym rat and I've never used an elliptical, but I've never had any shin splint problems using an exercise bike. I switched the bike for a treadmill because, among other things, the bike was so loud I couldn't hear the TV over it, and it was made for someone at least six inches taller than I am. It's a lot harder to be too short for a treadmill than it is to be too short for a bike. :)


    Thanks for the tip, I'll try jogging every other day and see if that works better.

  11. THANK YOU!

    (for the website recommendation. Love it.)

  12. So if I respond to your interval training with a mention of penis size, can we get the boys to come back? No pun intended.
    I've found that penis size greatly enhances your recovery period during interval training. (Note, there is no specificity as to the penis size...) Did that do it?
    Penile Infantile

  13. Hey chickengirl,
    For some reason I find exercise bikes horrible even when they're the right size. Probably would be better on the knees, but I hate 'em anyway. Thanks for checking back in!

    Hi Katieo,
    Glad you like it too!

    And hi, um, Penile Infantile--
    I don't know if the boys wanted to hear that the girls didn't care all that much about their penis size. So don't know if they'll be back or not.

  14. Interval training... Embrace it.

    If you ever get bored with your intervals and want some more variety, I have a very extensive repertoire of fun intervals up my sleeve!

  15. Hi Laura (Lav), and welcome!

    Holy crap, so I just took a look at your bio.

    Sure... after my 4-6 forty-five second intervals, I'll give your world-championship-athlete workout a try. I'm sure it will be easy peasy!

    I have to confess, it's sort of intimidating to have a serious athlete drop in here. Just watching you workout would leave me exhausted.

    But you hardcore types are such an inspiration to us slackers, so please visit any time!

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  16. I usually go intervals once a week. The other three cardio workouts I leave as standard stuff (twice on the treadmill, once on the elliptical).

    Once a week though, I get on the stationary bike and peddle like mad every fourth minute. Not sure if it's better than regular cardio, but hey, it's variety and it keeps things interesting so I do it.


  17. Hi Gal,

    As usual, you seem entirely sensible! We seem to agree on a lot of this stuff. Thanks so much for dropping by.

  18. Hi,

    I found this excellent timer that is built inside a sweatband and works great for any kind of iterval training. It can be found at http://www.rest-timer.com I think this is the only place it can be purchased.


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