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The Benefits of Cardio Interval Training

Posted by Tracy Barrett on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 @ 17:12 PM

By: Paul Robbins, MS

Intensify Your Cardio

One way to achieve cardio interval training is to introduce many of the concepts of weight training into your cardio program. Weight training measures work performed by the weight you are moving and/or the repetitions. To accurately measure improvements in workload, you must use progressions and record increases in weights and repetitions. This same idea needs to be applied to your cardio workouts. Too many individuals look only at elapsed time to determine if they have completed a cardio workout or not – they are not looking at the intensity, or workload, of the exercise performed. Cardio intensity is gauged by the workload or power (watts, speed, incline, gear, level…whatever you can adjust on the equipment), the effort and the amount of time the exercise was performed. Your heart is a muscle and it needs changes in workload to continue to get stronger. Mixing up your cardio equipment or cardio routine will stimulate different muscle groups and will not only make you stronger but will help you burn more calories.

Just Add Intervals

One simple but highly effective change is to add some intervals to your cardio workout once or twice a week. Longer workout time is not necessary – just add high intensity intervals to your current workout. A five minute warm-up may be followed by a 30-second sprint.  Depending on your fitness level, a sprint might be simply walking faster on the treadmill, walking at an incline or jogging for those 30seconds while more advanced athletes may run as fast as they can at an incline; you simply need to work as hard as you can for that 30-second interval.  This high intensity interval is followed immediately by a 30-second rest, or recovery, at an easy pace. Repeat this interval series five times before a 3-5 minute low intensity recovery period.  More conditioned individuals may choose to repeat the 5 interval series. The key is using heart rate to track how hard you are working and how quickly you are recovering after each high intensity interval.

Strengthen Your Heart & Burn More Calories

Over time, you should see your heart rate drop faster while requiring a higher workload to increase your heart rate.  The benefits of this type of training include increased cardiovascular strength by overloading the heart and increased caloric burn during the workout and, more importantly, after the workout.  This simple workout will keep you challenged and motivated as you see your fitness level increase.

For more information on interval training, visit

Paul Robbins designed many of the programs in SCIFIT’s Intelli-Fit console, including the exclusive Heart Fit Program, providing 30-second interval training and measuring heart rate recovery.

Topics: burn more calories, Paul Robbins, strengthen heart, interval training