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Interval Training or Sprints – The Most Efficient Way to Exercise

By June 27, 2013June 17th, 2023Movement & Exercise

It used to be a popular belief you had to do some type of aerobics for 30-60 minutes to get in shape and lose weight.  Recently, the research on how to get the most out of your exercise has dramatically shifted.

It seems long periods of time on the treadmill are too stressful and actually causes your body to secrete cortisol  which prevents you from losing weight,  the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

The best way to get your body to burn fat is training your heart rate to be able to go really high in a sprint (as if you were chasing a rabbit) and then at rest and recover quickly by returning the heart rate to normal.(while waiting for the next rabbit).This is known as high intensity interval training.

This is the way our bodies were designed to stay young and healthy. It makes us strong but not stressed.

The sprint/recovery training, HIIT, offers many health benefits (without the wear and tear of a long slow duration workout). Here they are:

10 benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

  • Increasing fat metabolism
  • Calming the nervous system and mind
  • Stabilizing glucose and insulin levels
  • Increasing calorie burning
  • Boosting energy
  • Creating a sleeker, stronger, and more toned physique
  • Enhancing sex drive
  • Improved lymphatic drainage leading to healthier skin and detoxification
  • Raising growth hormone – which may be responsible for all the above
  • It improves your stamina
  • It increases your strength
  • It can help to strengthen your bones.

How to Do Interval Training

How do we train this way ? New research says this can be done in as little as 12 minutes a day. Here’s how.

Step 1

Go for a walk, jog, bike ride, use a cardio machine like an elliptical trainer. Exercise slowly for 2 minutes while breathing in and out through your nose as much as possible.

Nasal breathing is a skill that may take some time to master. Don’t worry if you have to mouth breath. Do the best you can and – in time – the nasal breathing will get easier.

Step Two: Sprint

Start exercising faster, do a  sprint for 1 minute. By that I mean go as full out as you can while still breathing through your nose. Sprints can be achieved by raising the level on the elliptical machine, running up and down your stairs, jumping jacks, just get the exertion level up.  When I am in the gym I start on the elliptical machine at level 4 or 6 then push it up to level 14-16 and pump like crazy.

Nasal breathing will slow you down and not let you over do it.  That is OK, don’t push too hard, you will build yourself up to a faster sprint over time. Try to do a sprint pace that you can maintain for one minute.  You will be able to sprint faster in just a few weeks.

Step 3: Recovery

Slow the exercise down to the Warm Up pace for one minute and maintain the nasal breathing if you can. Nasal Breathing during the recovery will force air into the lower lobes of the lungs allowing for more efficient release of CO2 and activation of the calming parasympathetic nervous system that predominates in the lower lobes of the lungs. This will help you release toxins and stress.

Step 4: Second Sprint

Start another sprint for one minute. Make this a little faster if you can. Continue nasal breathing, if possible.  If you have to breath though your mouth that is fine.

Step 5: Second Recovery

Recover from the sprint with one minute of deep nasal breathing at the warm up pace. If you cannot maintain nasal breathing during the recovery the sprint was too hard, breathe through your mouth to recover and slow it down next time. Each time it will get easier.

Step 6: Continue Sprints and Recoveries

Continue sprints and recoveries for a total of 4 sprints and 4 recoveries. Follow the nasal breathing as much as you can.

Step 7: Cool Down

Repeat Step 1. Exercise slowing with deep nasal breathing for 2 minutes.

Note: In the beginning you may need a 90 second recovery period after each sprint instead of just one minute. If this is the case then just do a 2 minute warm up, then 3 one minute sprints with 3 90 second recoveries and a 2 minute cool down, for a total of 12 minutes.

The good thing about this is you can do it anywhere any time. It only takes 12 minutes and you don’t need special equipment. When I am traveling I do it walking faster and slower.  In the summer I do it kayaking.

Enjoy your sprinting, you will be amazed how your endurance improves in a short period of time.


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