No Time For Exercise? Think Again!

One of the most common reasons I hear for people not exercising is lack of time. We are busy! The thing is that we don’t necessarily need a lot of time to get a good workout in. While there are many aspects to a good workout, one way to get a good bang-for-your-buck so to speak, is interval training. (Thanks to Tracy for suggesting this topic!)

We use interval training with our members and it has shown to be very effective for fat loss, and cardiovascular training, as well. The nice time aspect of it is that you can get a good workout in as little as 10-15 minutes and you don’t have to be in professional athlete shape to perform interval training.

Interval Training

     Diane and Sandy Doing The Battle Ropes

First, let me explain what interval training is. The essentials are that it is an alternating period of work and rest. The keys are that while you work, you are working at or near 100% intensity and while you rest you aren’t working at all. For example, doing a 15 sprint and then resting for 30 seconds. While you are doing that 15 second sprint you need to be sprinting as fast as you possibly can for that entire 15 seconds.

It’s pretty common for interval training to be time-measured in one of three different ways.

  1. A 2-to-1 work-to-rest ratio. For example, 20 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest.
  2. An even work to rest ratio. For example, 20 seconds of work to 20 seconds of rest.
  3. A 1-to-2 work to rest ratio. For example 20 seconds of work to 40 seconds of rest.

What kind of exercises should you do when interval training? It should be something that you can perform easily. This is why something like an exercise bike sprint or elliptical can work well. At our gym we also use battle ropes, heavy bag punches, a rower, medicine ball slams and other similar options. These exercises can be performed easily, with a lot of intensity, and without a huge emphasis on technique. Anyone can hit a bag, right?

Interval Training

     Tammy doing some Ball Slams

Here are some other keys to effective interval training:

  • You MUST work at 100% intensity during your work periods!!! This simply does not work if you don’t. Go as hard as you can!
  • The simpler the exercise, the better, in this case. When you’re getting tired you don’t want an exercise you have to think too much about. This is why simple cardio-based exercises, like hill sprints, work really well.
  • Start small. You don’t need to do, and shouldn’t do, 45 minutes of this kind of work. About 15-20 minutes of work should be plenty.
  • If you do 20 minutes of interval work and feel you can do another 20 minutes you didn’t go hard enough during your work periods!

Interval training has been shown in many studies to be more effective for fat loss than traditional steady-state work (like walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes) and did I mention that it doesn’t take as long?

Let me give you the structure of a good 20 minute workout you can use today.

  • 4 minute warmup
  • 14 minutes of intervals using one of the following time protocols:
    • 15 seconds work – 30 seconds rest
    • 30 seconds work-60 seconds rest
    • 45 seconds work-90 seconds rest
  • 2 minute cool down

For which exercise to use, again use something easy that you can perform with high intensity. As the weather turns I really love to go outside and do hill sprints. These are easy on the body and can be very challenging. Just run up the hill as fast as you can, walk back down and go again. Start by doing 4 or 5 and build from there. If you live in Castro Valley I actually put together a guide you can use to find some good hills and get your workout together. You can get it here:

CV Cardio Guide

Please let me know if you have any questions on how to put together your interval workouts.

P.S. My “5 Things You Should Know About Fat Loss, But Don’t” workshop is coming up on April 29th. Check out the details here:

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Mitch Rothbardt Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility
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