Interval Training

Running up that hill

Photo by: Jeremy Keith

Interval Training

One of my most favorite workouts is actually one of my toughest.

I did interval training workouts when I ran track and cross-country in high school, but I hated them. Your breathing was so hard you felt like you were breathing fire out of your mouth. Every part of your body ached and you were physically shot the rest of the day.

Yet I tried them again last year and found I liked it.

What changed?

Well it wasn’t just one thing. I found several benefits. The biggest being able to have the same effects in 20 minutes that someone who jogs for an hour or more. And I only do it once a week instead of three or more times per week when I would jog.

What is interval training?

Interval training is where you have short bursts of intense activity followed by rest or lower intensity activity. You can do this with running, cycling, jumping jacks, jump rope, burpees, mountain climbers…

Many people do it using the Tabata technique which is where you do a burst for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You do this cycle eight times, so it only takes you four minutes (20 sec + 10 sec = 30 sec x 8). Per WebMD, you burn more calories with this method than if you were to go at a steady pace. Here is a link to Mark’s Daily Apple which also explains interval training.

You can actually do it with different timing intervals. My bursts last 20-30 seconds followed by a rest of around 60 seconds. I run up a hill and gradually pick up the intensity and then walk back down to my starting position. By the time I get to my eighth one I am dripping sweat and breathing hard. I always do mine on Fridays at a forest preserve close to my home. Saturday is my binge day for eating, so I’ve found that doing my interval training the day before helps me burn the calories better. It is fun to eat like crazy on Saturday; ice cream, hotdogs, Chipotle…and weigh myself on Sunday and see my weight exactly the same. I credit a lot of this to the interval training. My metabolism is ramped up all week.

My Interval Training Workout


I listed all of the benefits I’ve found. The only con I would say is it is probably advanced. If you haven’t exercised in a while or have only jogged lightly, I would not recommend this without seeing your doctor first.


    1. I only do one run a week and it is my interval training.
    2. It is the only thing I do physical that day.
    3. I run about 100 yards up hill at the forest preserve down the street from me.
    4. The surroundings are beautiful.
    5. It completely relaxes me.
    6. It is such an effective workout. Doing this once per week, combined with my workouts and diet has kept the fat off me.
    7. My metabolism stays high all week.
    8. I have more energy.
    9. It feels good to sprint like a kid again. I haven’t done it in years.

If you can’t do this right from the start, then just try say three intervals where you pick up the intensity just a bit. Then gradually add more. You don’t need to do more than eight. Not that eight is a magic number, but six to eight are effective at getting results, so why do more.

Combine this with your regular diet and exercise program and see if you have the same results that I have found.

Please above all else, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise/diet program. You don’t want to start off your program with a heart attack.

Links to other Fitness Posts

Beginning Exercise Plan for Guys over 50

Can a Guy Over 50 Have a Six Pack?

Quest for a Six Pack

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