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3 Interval Training Workout Plans Designed for Different Fitness Levels to Improve Cardiovascular Health in 2020

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running interval workout

Walk, run, repeat

Research shows that interval training can improve cardiovascular health and whip you into shape faster than doing only steady-paced, moderate workouts. With its short bouts of challenging exercise, you crush lots of calories during intervals and sometimes for hours afterwards due to an elevated metabolism, or “after-burn.” “These high-intensity intervals disturb the metabolism to the point where, after the workout, the body is trying to recover and return to homeostasis. This requires energy and calories, which is the after-burn effect,” explains Jon-Erik Kawamoto, a personal trainer and owner of JKConditioning in St. John’s.

Weaving running and walking together also reduces the risk of overuse injury on muscles and joints. “Intervals are great if you want to pick up the intensity of a workout but you’re not yet ready for running the entire time,” says Kawamoto. Already a runner? Intervals will step up your workouts while saving your joints from extended high-impact activity.

Choose from our three workouts (see “Pick Your Workout” on the next slide), designed for different fitness levels-and do them on two to three non-consecutive days each week. They’re great for outdoors, but you can always hop on a treadmill, too. Complement these workouts with non-interval sweat sessions, such as cycling, on other days of the week. Weave in strength training as well, either on its own or paired with cardio workouts. As always, check with your doctor before starting a workout program.

interval training running

Pick your workout

1. To Start Out This is right for you if you haven’t exercised much in the past six months; you’re active maybe once a week. Most of your activity comes from everyday tasks such as walking the dog or raking leaves.

2. To Stay in Shape
This is right for you if you’re working out two to three times a week, such as brisk walking or fitness classes.

3. To Kick it Up This is right for you if you exercise on most days of the week, can run non-stop for 30 minutes and are looking for a new challenge.

walking shoes

1. To Start Out

Time: 30 minutes* including warm-up and cool-down
Calories burned: Approximately 170  per workout**

First 10 minutes: Warm up with gentle walking that gradually gets brisker.

Next 16 minutes: Break into a gentle jog that feels somewhat challenging for one minute. Recover for three minutes with moderately paced walking; by the end of the three minutes you should have the energy to jog again. Repeat sequence three more times.

Last four minutes: Walk at an easy pace to cool down.

Challenge yourself: Gradually ramp up your walking pace so it gets brisker toward the end of your three-minute recovery interval.

cholesterol run woman running

2. To Stay in Shape

Time: 40 minutes* including warm-up and cool-down
Calories burned: Approximately 240 per workout**

First five minutes: Warm up with a brisk walk or gentle jog.

Next 15 minutes: Run at a moderate pace.

Next 15 minutes: Run faster for one minute at a somewhat challenging or quite challenging pace; you should feel almost breathless by the end of this interval. Recover for two minutes, walking to catch your breath. Repeat sequence four more times.

Last five minutes: Walk at an easy pace to cool down.

Challenge yourself: Work up to running for one minute and walking for one minute.

running woman

3. To Kick it Up

Time: 50 minutes* including warm-up and cool-down
Calories burned: Approximately 380 per workout**

First five minutes: Warm up with a brisk walk or gentle jog.

Next 25 minutes: Run at a moderate pace.

Next 12-15 minutes: Run faster for one minute at a challenging pace. You should feel breathless when the minute is up. Recover for 30 seconds, walking to catch your breath. Repeat sequence seven to
nine more times (depending on desired intensity).

Last five to eight minutes: Walk at an easy pace to cool down.

Challenge yourself:
Accelerate to almost a sprint in the last 10 seconds of each one-minute running interval.

* For each workout, reserve an additional three to five minutes post-cool-down for stretching thigh, calf, hip and butt muscles.
** Based on a 150-lb. woman.

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