January 25, 2012 @ 8:10 PM

 

Whenever I get asked about my exercise regimen, I always get the same response – that’s it?  Conventional methods of training have engrained the belief that exercise should be done for an hour at a time.  People are shocked or don’t believe that 12 to 20 minutes of daily exercise is sufficient to bring about positive body transformations and other health benefits.  Research studies have shown however that exercise time can be greatly reduced all while gaining even better health benefits by using interval training.  This is done by alternating short bursts of high intensity exercises with brief periods of rest.

Interval, anaerobic, or burst training as they can also be called, can dramatically improve your strength, cardiovascular endurance and fat-burning capacity in a fraction of the time.  One study showed that men who pedaled for 20-minutes using interval training received the same benefits than if they had exercised at a lower intensity for longer than an hour.  The benefits are numerous; better glucose control, improved metabolism, better weight control and visceral fat loss just to name a few.

Another study found that women who did 8-second sprint intervals on a bike followed by 12-seconds of recovery for 20-minutes lost three times as much fat than women who biked at a steady pace for 40 minutes over a period of 15 weeks.  Just to repeat that again… That’s three times the fat loss in HALF the time!

Why Does It Work?

The reason researchers believe this mode of training works so well is because the sporadic bursts cause the body to release chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more subcutaneous and visceral fat to be burned and therefore increase weight loss.

I also don’t believe that our bodies were designed to exercise for long durations.  If we look at our ancient ancestors, they used to sprint then rest while hunting for food. 

The Bottom Line

I have personally felt many benefits from interval training.  First of all, as a mom of four, I don’t have the luxury of spending an hour at a gym so my workouts have to be effective and time efficient.  One of the biggest challenges people face is finding the time to exercise but interval training eliminates this excuse.  My workouts are intense enough to challenge my muscles yet they are short enough to allow me to exercise on a daily basis.  The key is to listen to your body and vary your routine.  Push your body when your energy levels are high and slow the pace down when you need a rest.

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