Intervals are BY FAR the most efficient way to do your cardiovascular workout. These are the reasons why intervals kick long, constant-cardio workouts in the butt:
- Your metabolism will sky-rocket! It will stay elevated post workout for so much longer than if you just jogged at one level pace. This is due to EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). To the average person: all this means is that you will continue burning calories at an elevated rate even as you are sitting on your booty throughout the rest of the day!! Wahooo! (Note – weight training + cardio intervals has an even higher EPOC :))
- You put your body into neuromuscular confusion – a state where the body doesn’t know what is coming next and must “re-boot and re-assess the neuromuscular patterns of your body every time you change speed, rather than allowing the body to find a calm state of homeostasis. This challenges your body so much more! Think about how much easier a math test would be if it was the same question 20 times vs having a test with 20 different questions… same thing with your muscles and body!!
- The periods of high-intensity followed by rest allow you to reach higher thresholds of your VO2max (Think about this being your maximum effort level possible).
- You burn way more calories in a shorter amount of time!! (Due to reason #2 and #3)
- It is great for your heart!! You receive the same (or more!) cardiovascular benefits when only doing 20 minutes of intervals as you do 45 minutes of a constant jog!! Talk about efficient! :)
Bottom line: Intervals are effective, a great calorie burn, and can be done when you are short on time. Long runs are great too, but this is just another tool to add to your repertoire. Intervals can be done on any cardiovascular machine (treadmill, row machine, elliptical, bike, etc) and even done outside via hills or just changing your pace as you run.
Try THIS for an example of an interval workout, enjoy!
Be Happy. Be Fit.