Humans are creatures of habit. When it comes to workouts, we tend to latch onto one routine and repeat, repeat, repeat. But if you want to burn fat you shouldn’t let your daily walk become a chore: Interval training is a great way to spice up a boring routine and get the most out of every step.
In exercise jargon, “intervals” are periods of rest or low activity between short spurts of high-speed or high-intensity work. “A typical interval training routine will involve some bursts of “all-out” training followed by periods of lower intensity that allow for active recovery,” says Shara Vigeant, an Edmonton-based personal trainer. “This means your body can recover somewhat even though you haven’t completely stopped exercising.” This pumps up your metabolism and targets body fat, she says, “Studies have shown that intensity training increases your metabolism for hours after your workout has ended.”
Deb Leblanc, a trainer and owner of DEBFIT Lifestyle Fitness Company in Salt Spring Island, B.C., agrees: “Any exercise that shakes up your same old routine will push your body into adaptations,” she says. Your body adapts to regular exercise, she says, “and these adaptions equal more energy burned and more calories utilized.” Build the right adaptions they will beef up your body’s ability to burn fat.”
Interval training tends to be more effective in the morning, after your nightly ‘fast,’ Leblanc says: “You have about 20 minutes of ‘stored’ glycogen – these are what carbs are called once they’re broken down in your body and shuttled off to the storage tanks, and in this case, stored in your muscles and liver.” Once you burn these off, your body will tap into the fat storage tanks. Of course, there are always a bit of both running your body, but your fuel is predominantly carbs at the start of the day.
Keep in mind that interval training can be tough; beginners should start slow. Start with one minute each of fast walking, jogging and sprints, for a total of 10 minutes. You should be able to feel the fire in the muscles. You’ll also start breathing harder and sweating more. “Sweating is a by-product of your fat-burning systems,” Leblanc says, “Interval training is a necessary evil – if ever you’ve desired to get fitter, lose weight or be better at your sport of choice, get sweating!”