Archives for posts with tag: cardiovascular

Once again I’ve neglected my blog for far too long, but in my defence I’ve been planning my new business (more to come on this soon) and creating a children’s picture book with my sister, which is very nearly finished. It’s all been very exciting!

With all this going on, I’m sure I’d be forgiven for taking a step back from my normal fitness routine but I just can’t go more than a few days without exercise, which is why I’m a big fan of Tabata training at the moment. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT). I’ve been incorporating high intensity intervals into my workouts for years – and have written about them on here before – but I’ve always felt that anything less than 40 seconds for a high intensity period was cheating.

I was wrong! Tabata intervals are only 20 seconds long with a 10 second rest. It doesn’t sound like much and I admit to being a little sceptical at first, but the idea is that you work those 20 seconds to complete exhaustion, then take 10 seconds rest and then go straight back into 20 seconds HIGH, HIGH, HIGH intensity. You repeat this 8 times. Believe me, if you’re working it like you should be, those last few sets are a killer!

Traditional Tabata training consists of just 4 minutes of work (8 rounds of 20 seconds work with 10 seconds rest) and according to research this is all you need to increase your aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This article explains it really well. Personally, I love the theory behind all of this but I’m not going to be satisfied by just 4 minutes of exercise no matter how hard-core it is. I might be pushed for time but I still enjoy my workouts and I want them to last a bit longer than 4 minutes, so guided by the fantastic KT Chaloner at GymCube.com, I’ve been doing Tabata classes in which you do 4 or 5 sets of the 4 minute workout with a short break in between each one. I have to say, I’m loving it and I feel fantastic!

So if you’re looking for something to spice up your workouts or you just want to see what all the hype is about, give Tabata a go. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

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I often tell people who are struggling with getting into a regular exercise regime, give it 3 months of regular exercise and you’ll be hooked. Once you’re hooked on exercise, you actually enjoy it and get miserable if you don’t get your regular endorphin fix.

However, 3 months is a long time to stay motivated if you’re not enjoying it. I’m one of those lucky people who actually enjoys exercise, but even I’ve been known to get bored of working out from time to time so it’s no wonder so many people give up before they’ve even started.

I don’t have a magical solution, but here are a few tips to staying motivated even if you’re already a fitness junky: if you want to stick to an exercise regime you’ve got to keep your goals achievable, you’ve got to choose a form of exercise you enjoy and you’ve got to keep it varied.

Interval training is one of my favourite ways of keeping workouts short, intense and interesting and it’s one of the most effective ways of getting results.

What is interval training?

Interval workouts alternate between high-intensity and lower-intensity levels.

Why is interval training so good?

  • The variety makes the time pass faster.
  • You can easily fit an interval session into a lunch break or when you’re pressed for time and still get better results than you would from a longer, less intense workout.
  • Working harder even for short bursts of time burns more calories and the body continues burning calories long after you’ve finished your workout.
  • The stop-and-start pattern trains your body to recover quickly, which improves your cardiovascular fitness.

This Infographic at www.greatist.com explains it really well.

So, let’s get started:

Here are a couple of great interval sessions for you to try out and adapt to suit you. Remember to include a warm up beforehand and stretch out afterwards.

Treadmill workout 1:

Put the incline up to 1 or 2. You’ll hardly notice the extra effort but you’ll be burning more calories and getting better fitness results.

To start with, you need to find your comfortable pace. This is a pace you could keep up comfortably for quite a long time. Depending on your fitness, this might be a fast walk or a jog.  For this example, let’s just say you’re comfortable pace is jogging at 9 km/h.

  • 1 minute: jog at 9 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 9.5 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 9 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 10 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 9 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 10.5 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 9 km/h
  • 1 minute: jog at 11 km/h

 … and so on for  15–30 minutes.

This is a good way of starting with intervals because you get to know your comfortable pace and find out how fast you can go.

Treadmill workouts 2 & 3:

Once you’re more confident with how fast you can go, you can change the intervals to make them more intense by reducing your rest time and/or going  straight to your fast pace rather than building up to it.

For example:

  • 30 seconds: 10 km/h
  • 1 minute: 13 km/h
  • 30 seconds: 10km/h
  • 1 minute: 13 km/h

… and so on for  15–30 minutes.

Treadmill workout 4:

Another fantastic variation of this (although a horribly hard one that I haven’t motivated myself to do for a while) is to vary incline rather than pace.

Find your comfortable pace again (e.g. 11 km/h) and start with the incline on 2 or 3, then build up:

  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 2
  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 3
  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 2
  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 4
  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 2
  • 1 minute:  jog at 11 km/h on incline 5

  you get the picture!

This one starts off feeling OK, but all of a sudden it begins to hurt. Don’t slow the pace when it starts getting harder. Just keep going up and down the inclines and see how long you can keep going for.

Writing about it has reminded me just how good this workout is. I guess I can’t expect you to try it if I don’t do it myself, so I’ll give it a go next time I’m in the gym. That’s a promise!

Intervals outside the gym:

Intervals don’t have to be done on the treadmill, of course. You can apply the interval workouts above to any piece of equipment and you can do other forms of intervals away from the gym too. You could keep it basic with running, swimming or cycling or you can do any form of high impact exercise followed by a short break and then back up to intensity.

Jo Parry did some great 10 minute workouts on Mission Clean & Lean (see my previous post about this, here). Here’s an example of a 10 minute workout, inspired by Jo:

  • 45 seconds: high knee runs
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: burpees (I hate them but they get results)
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: power squats
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: tricep dips
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: power lunges
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: plank
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: squat runs
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: star jumps
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: press up
  • 15 seconds: rest
  • 45 seconds: high knee runs again

Repeat this 2 or 3 times. Give it everything you’ve got on each exercise and you’ll have done a brilliant workout.

If you have any questions about how to perform any of the exercises mentioned here, please do not hesitate to contact me or if you’re a member of a gym ask a member of staff to help you out.

Good luck. Let me know how you get on. x