The Benefits Of Intervals

Whenever someone, especially runners and triathletes, ask me about how they can mix up their training or lose weight faster or simply get faster as an athlete – there is one common recommendation I give everyone across the board – Interval training.

What is interval training?

Interval training is a cardio workout where you have short bursts of speed (either timed or a certain distance) with short periods of rest.

Interval training has many benefits:

  • Allows you to work on form efficiency
  • Increases your lung capacity (as well as breathing technique)
  • Improves your cardiovascular fitness
  • Improves your overall speed – you can create personal best times with the support of intervals
  • Helps you lose weight faster than regular cardio (studies have proven this)
  • Is an overall strength training workout for your entire body
  • Builds mental toughness and focus
  • Increases confidence
  • Helps build a stronger core/chiseled physique
  • Can be done anywhere

As you can see, interval training is not just for “serious” athletes or sports performance level folks.  It truly can (and does) benefit EVERY body that takes part.

Intervals are best one just once per week, either at a track or at a spot where you know the approximate distance.  

Here is a sample workout for a beginner who has never done intervals:

3-5 minute warmup
4 x 200 meter intervals at 80% of your max heart rate (or max perceived effort)   30 seconds rest bw intervals
4 x 400 meter intervals at 80% of your max heart rate (or max perceived effort)   1 minute rest bw intervals
2 x 200 meter intervals at 80%  30 seconds rest bw intervals
5 minute cool down

Here is a sample workout for someone who has done intervals before and/or are running 20 miles/week or more:

3-5 minute warm up
4 x 400 meters at 80% of your max heart rate (or perceived effort)  1 minute rest in between intervals
4 x 800 meters at 80%   2 minute rest between intervals
4 x 400 meters at 80%   1 minute rest bw intervals
5-10 minute cool down

If you don’t have access to a track or don’t know the approximate distance, you can run timed intervals instead. 
Simply pick a time that you think will be challenging to you and give yourself about 1/3-1/2 the amount of time in rest.  For example, if you run 2 minute intervals, take a 45-60 second active rest (walking around, don’t stop moving or sit).   If you run 3 minute intervals, take a 90 second active rest.  

NOTE:  These are just examples and you definitely want to consult with a coach as to what is the best weekly interval training workout for YOU.    There is a science to your overall weekly workouts and interval training without some guidance can also get you injured.

If you would like support on designing your own personal workout schedule, feel free to contact me at or 612-721-0907.  I help clients all over the world get fit and stay healthy!

Even though intervals can be painful, remember this:  Intervals are you friend!

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