I dropped my only child off at college for her freshman year just 7 days ago, and I’m already experiencing the benefits of training her for a brief period of time, and now enjoying the pace of my recovery phase. (Leave it to a fitness professional to equate parenting to a training style!) Don’t get me wrong. I miss her like crazy and I have plenty to keep me busy while she’s away at school, but the day-to-day workload is definitely different than when she was with me daily. This new interval of life is giving me the opportunity to have deeper conversations and sweet interactions with her, rather than calling out quick hellos and goodbyes as we run from one event to another. The work phase and the recovery phase are both turning out to be beneficial.
Interval Training, physically, works in much the same way. It isn’t new in the fitness industry, but it certainly is growing in popularity. If you google it, you’ll see that the benefits are plentiful. As defined by dictionary.com, interval training is an exercise and training program in which each session consists of periods of intense exertion alternating with periods of rest or lighter exertion. In other words, we work really hard for a brief period of time and then we recover. You can now see why it sounds a bit like parenting to me. As parents, we work really hard to invest in our children, training them as best we can for a brief period of time, with hopes of a time of recovery where we reap the benefits of that training. If you aren’t a parent, please keep reading anyway – especially if you’re a pet owner. That takes intense training as well!
Here are my personal top 5 reasons that I love interval training (and why you will, too):
Now that you know WHY interval training is beneficial, let me share with you an easy way to kick-start your interval training exercise plan. First, simply choose an exercise (walking, swimming, biking, running, etc.). Then perform the exercise at 2 different speeds for a pre-determined time. For example, walk or jog at a strenuous pace along the long side of a football field and then walk or jog at a relaxed pace along the short side. Alternate this pattern until you’ve completed as many laps around the field that was your determined goal. Implement the same philosophy by swimming a pre-determined number of lengths in the pool at a high exertion level (think Michael Phelps), followed intermittently with fewer lengths at a lower exertion level (think “normal human”). This same sequence can be applied to other exercises of your choosing. HINT: It helps if you choose an exercise that you actually like. If you like the exercise, I think you’ll love the interval training style and its results.
Another great way to add interval training to your exercise routine without having to create it yourself, is to join a Body & Soul Interval-style group fitness class. Find a class near you on our website and contact the instructor to learn more! And remember, just like parenting (and pet ownership), the work phase takes a lot of exertion and effort so give it all you’ve got! Don’t hold back, because the recovery phase is the reward for a job well done.
Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness.
Photos courtesy of daynastudios.com.