Intervals are a cardio workout's best friend. If you want a technical definition, they're periodic bursts of intensity followed by a recovery period. Here's my definition: they're periodic bursts of intensity that make a boring workout go by so much faster-and get my heart rate up fast so I know I'm getting serious benefits. There are lots of different ways to fold intervals into your routine: speed bursts where you go as fast as you can for one minute than recover for 30 seconds, or a full 5 minutes up a steep hill on a bike or treadmill. However you choose to do them, here are a few more reasons to turn up the volume on your workout.
You'll kick in that awesome afterburn effect: Just like strength training, doing intervals is a great way to keep up the fat-burning well after your workout. Depending on the length and intensity of your cardio, your body may burn an additional 65 to 150 calories-that may not seem like a lot, but if you did that five days a week, on top of your regular workout, you could potentially lose an additional 7 pounds in a year without even trying.
You'll stay present and focused on your workout. You know that girl at the gym talking on her cell phone while she's on the elliptical trainer? Do you think she's getting a good workout? She's not. If you make the effort to get there, do a workout and shower it should be time (and calories) well spent.
You'll protect your heart You may not be worrying about heart health now but no reason not to get a head start on protecting your ticker-and a recent study found that doing 4 to 6 30-second sprints 3 days a week was just as effective at improving artery structure and function as longer, slower workouts 4-5 times a week.
What's your favorite mind trick to power through a tough workout?
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