One of the most common reasons people stop working out is lack of time. With the time it takes to commute to and from the gym, the time it takes for the actual workout, plus the post-gym shower, it can add up fast. That is why many people are turning to interval training workouts. These types of workouts don’t require more than 20 minutes of your time, making them perfect for even the busiest schedule.

There are many great health benefits to gain from interval workouts. The short and powerful movements help develop muscle and increase endurance. It also helps improve balance, and overall athletic performance. High intensity interval workouts jump start your metabolism and because your heart rate is maxing out you will be burning optimal calories. But the best news is that due to the intensity and amount of energy these workouts require, your metabolism will continue to work in overdrive even after you have finished your workout. That means that after you have left the gym, grabbed a smoothie, and ran a couple errands, you are still burning those calories. And for a small price to pay of a 20 minute workout.

Aside from the numerous health benefits, the ease and convenience of cardio intervals are the next best thing about it. There is absolutely no equipment required, unless you want to incorporate it. Which means it can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is 20 minutes and a stop watch.

The most common interval method is one minute on, one minute off, 1:1. You can also do 2:1, or any other combination that works best for you. If you do not want to bother with the hassle of a timer you can do intervals by choose a number of repetitions to perform for each exercise. To maximize your workout and get the most out of these sets, do not rest between each exercises. Everything should be fast paced and back-to-back, with the only rest occurring when you have finished one whole set.

1:1 Example Workout

  • 1 minute burpees : 1 minute rest
  • 1 minute plank : 1 minute rest
  • 1 minute jumping jacks : 1 minute rest
  • 1 minute high knees : 1 minute rest

2:1 Example Workout

  • 2 minute run : 1 minute rest

  • 2 minute squat jumps : 1 minute rest
  • 2 minute forearm pushups : 1 minute rest

Repetition Example Workout

  • 25 burpees
  • 25 squats
  • 25 lunges
  • Rest
  • Repeat

If you want to incorporate weights and equipment, the repetition method is best. This way you are sure to work your muscles evenly and not too fast, as you might if you were being timed.

Dumbbell Repetition Example Workout

  • 10 bicep curls left arm
  • 10 bicep curls right arm
  • 10 burpees holding dumbbells
  • 50 punch jabs (25 each arm)
  • Rest
  • Repeat

Medicine Ball Repetition Example Workout

  • 20 squat jumps holding ball
  • 60 basket twists – 30 to each side
  • 60 sit ups holding ball overhead
  • Rest
  • Repeat

Exercises to choose for your intervals are limitless. A few examples include burpees, pushups, squat jumps, lunge jumps, wall sits, planks, etc. For a complete body workout, you can do multiple sets and dedicate each set to a different body part. To do this, you would choose a set of upper body exercises, a set of lower body exercises, and a set of core exercises. Then you would determine your method of timing or repetitions, and follow this method for each set.

The first few times of a cardio interval workout are difficult and probably awkward. These are not easy to complete, especially if you are not used to high intensity workouts, so your body will take a while to adjust to the exertion. Your coordination skills might also feel out of sync and clumsy, but this, too, will come in time. After a few workouts, you will notice changes in your athletic abilities, your endurance, and synchronization.

Interval training is great for every body type. Anyone can accomplish these workouts with the right mindset and determination. Whether you are in the gym, at home, at work, or even between running errands, you can squeeze in a set. Take advantage of your free time and use it to do something positive for your body and your mind.

Micah Larsen

Micah is a traveling swim coach and personal trainer, depending on the season. She is also currently working on her Master of Science in Athletic Administration and Coaching. Micah loves to live an active lifestyle, whether she is competing in open water swims, running a road race, practicing yoga, or biking with her dogs. The main objective in her career is to... Read More

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