For complete beginners, interval training can be a daunting task. This is why steady state cardio is so popular: people don’t want to do the hard stuff, so they do the easy stuff. But I would rather train hard for 10-20 minutes, rather then train slow for 30-60 minutes.
The Beginner Interval Workout
Beginners should start off with a 30 second work interval, followed by a 90 second rest interval. So, if you’re running, then run hard at a pace you can handle for 30 seconds straight, then go into a slow jog or walk for 90 seconds.
Perform 5 total rounds for a nice, 10 minute workout. You only need to do this sort of training twice per week to see results. After 3-4 weeks, once progress slows or comes to a complete halt, then move onto a more difficult interval routine.
Progressing with Intervals
The best way to progress with intervals is to reduce rest periods while keeping the total time that you train the same. So, from 90 second interval, drop it to 75 seconds. Then try 60 seconds, followed by 45 seconds.
Here is what 10 minute workouts would look like as you progress:
- 5 rounds of 30 seconds work, 75 seconds rest
- 6 rounds of 30 seconds work, 60 seconds rest
- 8 rounds of 30 seconds work, 45 seconds rest
- 10 rounds of 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest
As you can see, all of these workouts last 10 minutes or less.
Many of the advanced protocols involve resting as much as you’re working, and working more than you’re resting. For example, the Tabata protocol is an advanced method that involves a 20 second interval followed by a 10 second rest.
Other advanced protocols include:
Remember that as you progress, you will need tougher and tougher workouts. I recommend grabbing Craig Ballantyne’s 31 Interval Workouts manual to keep your interval workouts fresh and exciting!