This is a guest post by Jeffrey Knox, from Interval Training Exercises, on how to master interval training when you have absolutely no access to fancy gym equipment.
Jeff was kind enough to share his strategies on how to shred through body fat using short intense training sessions.
If you had a choice of working out for 20 minutes or 60 minutes, which would you choose?
That’s the advantage of interval training…you can create a stronger, leaner physique in less time than sticking with traditional cardio workouts.
Anyone can get started. All you have to do is roll up your sleeves, slap on that headband (if you plan on wearing one) and start burning the fat off your body.
How to Get Fit With Interval Training When You Have No Equipment
When most people think of interval training they generally associate it with gyms and fitness equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes. Whilst it is true, that treadmills and bikes are excellent for interval training, there are other ways that are equally as effective but do not require any costs on your part.
But first a little bit of education on when to use interval training and who it is best suited to.
If, like the vast majority of the population, your goal is to keep the weight down by burning fat and have a toned body then interval training is a much better choice for you. Trust me, it beats slogging it out for countless hours every week by running on a treadmill.
Just because you see everyone doing in the gym does not mean it is an effective fat loss strategy.
Cardio is fine if you are training for an endurance event, such as a marathon. That is when you need to put in the hours, and the miles, to prepare your body for an event.
However, if that is not your goal then you have to ask yourself:
“Why am I training for an endurance type of event?”
If your answer leaves you realizing your goals and training are not in sync, then it is time to ask yourself another question:
“Then why am I training this way?”
Interval training has been around for years, and is a well-researched subject. The results consistently showing interval training is a much better approach for burning fat over long, slow cardio. For example, one study showed that 300 hours of traditional cardio per year helped men lose only 6 pounds and women only 4 pounds.
Think about that…that’s 50 hours of cardio to lose one pound—at best!
Another study showed that people who burned 400 calories with high intensity cardio ended up losing fat whilst those who only did low intensity cardio didn’t lose any fat at all. Yikes!
But What Exactly Is Interval Training?
There’s nothing fancy or complicated about interval training, it’s simply alternating periods of hard exercise followed by easier exercise and can be completed in a 20 minute session.
For example it could be 30 seconds of hard exercise paired with 90 seconds of easier effort (i.e a brisk walk).
I think why most people keep doing the long, slow cardio is because they just can’t believe that such short work intervals, and overall duration, could be more effective than hours of aerobic cardio.
But, as I’ve said, the research has proven this fact time and time again.
You can find out more about the science and get an incredible 31 interval training routines from Turbulence Training by following this link: http://www.intervaltrainingexercises.com/IntervalWorkouts
This is What Proper Interval Training Looks Like…
Before I start on the exercises, a quick disclaimer: these exercises are meant for education purposes and you must get your physicians approval before beginning the exercises.
Right, onto the fun stuff now—the interval training workouts! I’m going to start off with shuttle sprints.
All you need is to lay out two markers at a distance of 5-10 metres apart and what you are going to do is to keep running from marker to marker for the duration of the workouts.
An interesting piece of research in 2009 showed that a change of direction in your interval training actually elicited a more effective response from the body than traditional linear sprinting.
As with all the exercises I’m going to list, it is recommended to do a 5-minute warm up, which gets progressively more intense, and then a 5-minute cool down at the end at a light intensity, say 3/10 effort.
One of the better research time periods for this type of interval training is the 8-12 method. For this you will be doing:
- very hard intensity (9/10) for 8 seconds
- followed by low intensity (3/10) for 12 seconds
- Repeat this for 24 intervals
If you are doing shuttle sprints for the first time go for slightly less intensity with 15 second work intervals at 7/10 intensity and 45-60 second rest intervals at 3/10 intensity.
For more advanced workouts you can use the 16-24 (16 seconds hard intensity/24 low intensity) or 24-36 methods (24 seconds hard intensity/36 low intensity).
Be warned, these are very tough!
Hill sprints are another option for interval training, but make sure you find a hill that isn’t too steep, and also one that takes roughly 30 seconds to climb at a 9/10 intensity.
- Very hard intensity (9/10) for 15 seconds
- Walk down the hill to where you started (3/10 intensity) which should take 30-45 seconds
- Repeat this for 8-10 intervals
As your fitness improves try adding another interval until you reach 20 intervals. If you have a longer hill then try the following:
- Very hard intensity (9/10) for 30 seconds
- Walk down the hill to where you started (3/10 intensity) which should take 90-120 seconds
- Repeat this for 6 intervals
Again, as your fitness improves you can add 1 interval per week until you reach 10 intervals.
Bodyweight intervals are another great alternative for those that would like to workout at home and without any equipment.
Rather than go into specific routines for bodyweight exercises (you can find plenty of examples from the Turbulence Training link that I gave earlier and on many other sites on the Internet) I want to go a bit more into the details of why they are so effective and well suited to an interval style of training.
The first advantage is related to time pressure. With bodyweight intervals you could be doing a series of 5 or more exercises in a set with no rest in between.
With bodyweight exercises you can quickly jump from one exercise to the next whereas there can sometimes be a delay with weights in getting the right weight and swapping between equipment.
Another advantage of bodyweight intervals is that they are what is known as Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises (CKCE).This means the hand or foot is fixed or in constant contact with a surface, and does not move relative to the body.
These often require much more in the way or coordination and stability and as such works many more muscles at once. This great for you as you get more benefit in less time. Who doesn’t want that?!
CKCE also generally tend to be safer as they involve a compressive force which actually stabilises the joint and helps to strengthen it and they are more functional which can help in your activities of daily living and athletic performance.
The arrangement of the exercises is also an important factor to consider as the order of the exercises can affect the intensity of the workout.
As an example, alternating between upper and lower body exercises in a set of 5 exercises produces less fatigue on the upper and lower body because there is time to recover for each area.
This is good for interval bodyweight training because you can work at a really high rate all the way through the set and get the maximum benefit of fat burning in return.
As you can see, bodyweight exercises can be a really effective form of interval training and are really easy to do in your own home.
You can find some interval exercises that I do for my training for downhill mountain biking on my site at this link http://www.intervaltrainingexercises.com/interval-training/high-intensity-interval-training-workouts/ which includes some kettlebell exercises, too.
One Last Thing!
One last thing, do not fall into the trap of thinking that because 20 minutes of interval training is good, surely 40 minutes is even better.
This just isn’t the case because you won’t be able to perform at the required intensity for that long and therefore you’ll effectively be going back to a long, slow cardio type of exercise.
Keep it short and intense and don’t do this type of exercise more than two or three times a week to let your body recover.