The New Way to Work-out

Not Just for the Pros

Alrighty, so it's that time of year again...the time where you reflect back on your New Year’s Resolutions and try to get re-focused and aim to reach lofty goals and aspirations you set a couple months ago. For some, they are reachable..."get organized" or "read more" or "travel internationally" or, probably most common, "take better care of myself." And perhaps this is the year that you commit to exercise regularly, eat better, get more sleep...not just for the first few months of the year, but for life!

I am an avid reader of all the go-to health magazines – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Self and more - and I want to share the #1 exercise tip that all the mags, books and blogs have been writing about over the last couple years – a practice that I've officially put to the test and have seen excellent, almost immediate, results. It’s something that competitive, professional athletes have been doing for decades, but it’s just now catching on to the mainstream population – the incredible benefits of interval training.

Since running a marathon in San Francisco a few months ago, I have not attempted doing cardio longer than 30 min. Lately, my typical cardio workout is anywhere from 15-25 min, tops...and I’m actually in better shape now than I was during training! My big shift - rather than doing long-distance, moderately paced runs, I've switched over to interval training (in, both, cardio & weights). 

Study upon study has continued to show the incredible cardio and calorie-burning benefits of doing high-speed/high-intensity intervals during all cardio activities (hitting your max speed – depending on level of fitness, you are unable to talk and can’t go over 30 sec-2 min) mixed with slow-paced cool downs (very mellow walking or light jog pace for 30 sec-2 min). Not only are you torching tons of calories during the workout, but you actually burn substantially more calories AFTER workout -what scientists & fitness experts call afterburn. 

Doing intervals during cardio and weights, rather than steady-paced, longer workouts can completely change your metabolism and kick-start your energy level. According to the latest Fitness magazine, "doing interval training is a quick way to ramp up your body's ability to use fat as fuel; burning 36% more fat during workout." The same article also states, "Scientists have measured the afterburn for half-hour jog at 35 calories, as opposed to 75 calories for 20 one-minute running sprints (with two-min rests in between)." 

So, what this translates to - whether you're walking, jogging, spinning, on the elliptical - start with your typical warm up, and then do 30 seconds to 2 min (depending on fitness level) of an all-out sprint (as fast as you can go), and then back to your warm up pace for 30 sec to 2 min (depending on fitness level - shorter rest periods and sprint periods are ideal). Repeat this for anywhere from 10-30 minutes (if walking, this should always be at least 30 min). Aim to do the intervals at least 8-12 times, per session. Do this 3 times a week, and incorporate resistance training 2 x's per week (30 min of weights, Pilates, power yoga, boot camp, etc), and presto! You will be on your way to great cardio health, high energy levels and almost-instant physical results. 

And there's no excuse not to do it! If you only have 20 min to squeeze in and you do the intervals, you will be well on your way to your fitness goals. I've detailed my personal workout below - I do this 3 x's week, and as mentioned above, I am in better shape now than when I was marathon training!

Treadmill (can be applied to any activity)

Incline of 2.0 (always use incline on treadmill)


Trained athlete:
  • 2 min slow-paced warm up walk
  • 1 min moderate sprint
  • 30 sec recovery walk
  • 1 min moderate sprint
  • 30 sec recovery walk
  • 1 min full sprint (have increased pace since last sprint)
  • 30 sec recovery walk
  • 1 min full sprint
  • (repeat recovery/full sprint sessions at least 4 more times, ideally 8 more).
  • Finish: 2-5 min cool down recovery walk


Variation for novice athlete:
  • 2-5 min slow-paced warm up walk

  • 30 sec moderate sprint

  • 1-2 min recovery walk
  • 30 sec-1 min moderate sprint
  • 1-2 min recovery walk
  • 30 sec full sprint (have increased pace since last sprint)
  • 1 min recovery walk
  • 30 sec full sprint
  • (repeat recovery/full sprint sessions at least 4 more times, ideally 8 more).
  • Finish: 5 min cool down recovery walk
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