You know what I don’t like? Treadmills. You know what I do like? Looking fabulous. Therefore, I’m sure I’m not the only Collegiette in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to going to the gym. Sure, I’m burning calories, but it comes with the price of sweating beyond all recognition, my earbuds repetitively falling out, and waiting half an hour for my turn on the sweatmachine—I mean treadmill. But there’s a new, easier, way to burn calories, which means spending less time on that dreaded running machine and more time making eye contact with the hottie with the biceps.
The secret is interval training. Never heard of it? Interval training means that you add short bursts of speed into your workout, rather than go at one steady pace the whole time. Interval training has many benefits, which include:
- Getting in shape faster: According to a study in The Journal of Applied Physiology, runners who replaced their normal jogging routine for three interval workouts a week improved their 5K run times by 48 seconds…despite having spent half as much time working out.
- Burning more calories because it’s a more intense workout.
- According to researchers from the International Journal of Obesity, women who alternated short sprints with a somewhat longer recovery jog lost more than three pounds from their midsection over 15 weeks.
- Adding variety to your workout and keeping you from doing the same boring thing day after day.
Interval training isn’t just for the treadmill, either. It can be incorporated into basically any aerobic exercise: the elliptical, outside running, the stair stepper, petting your cat, you name it! To start with, try doing a session of four minutes of intense activity, followed by a three minute rest. Do this four times, and make sure you warm up and cool down properly.
Other ways to add interval training to your workout include tabata, or doing 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for four minutes (this time combo has been proved by Japanese scientists to be the most efficient/challenging/the one you’ll see the most results from); hill sprints, which have the added benefit of making your butt look amazing; or you can create intervals yourself, such as stepping 15 stairs really fast, then slowing down for the next 20.
Intervals are a great way to burn more calories at the gym, that only take half the time it normally takes to do a workout. Plus, you only have short spurts of intense activity, and you get to rest without feeling lazy. Try it out and see for yourself!