Burn calories during every workout by watching the clock and varying your intensity level! Interval training is not just for advanced exercisers; beginners can do it too. Keep reading to learn how to use intervals to achieve your best fitness results and learn some great ways to use timing to your advantage.

Interval training can be used as part of a fitness programme for improving activity level, and is a useful training method for burning calories at a higher rate. The common misconception with interval training is that it is only for advanced exercisers. I’m here to tell you that it can be adjusted for any fitness level. Intervals are perfect for days when you don’t have much time to exercise, or for days when you want to increase both intensity and calorie burn.

What is interval training?

Interval training is a training method which involves using varied timing and a varied intensity level to push your body to use several energy systems.

Why should I do interval training?

Using timing and training intensity to manipulate the rise and fall of your exercise-induced heartrate encourages the body to use different energy sources to fuel your workout. This can help to improve your performance and overall fitness level.

How can I implement interval training into my fitness routine?

The easiest way to get started with interval training is to pick a set amount of time to work hard, and follow that period of hard training with a rest or active rest (gentler movements that allow your heartrate to recover).

Interval timings to try

  • Beginners: Try what trainers call 1:1 ratio; equal timing of work to rest. This is great for beginners – your intensity level should be about 6-7/10.
  • Example: 30 seconds strength-based moves with 30 seconds rest (and repeat), and 60 seconds cardio activity with 60 seconds rest (and repeat). After a few weeks, increase your intensity. As your fitness level improves, try increasing your intensity until you’re working as hard as you can for the exercise time.
  • Next step: Once you feel that a 1:1 ratio is too easy (you feel ready to start again before the rest time is up), you can move onto a new ratio. Increase your workout time, increase your intensity level during the workout time, or decrease your recovery time.
  • More work, less rest: Try a ratio of 2:1 with twice as much work to rest. For example, 20 seconds of intense workout followed by 10 seconds of recovery – repeat 5 times.

Interval training and weight loss

I often get asked about the exact number of calories each workout will burn. Although it may sound like a simple question, the number of calories each individual burns varies from person to person, as it is based on variables such as body weight, intensity level, duration and mode of exercise.

During exercise, your body burns calories either from stored fat or carbohydrates for energy. If your workout was intense, you may continue to burn calories at a higher rate post-workout (which are difficult to track), so my personal view is to avoid a numbers game when it comes to exercise. Keep the numbers to calories in your nutrition plan or for counting your reps.

I recommend that people judge their workout on how they feel, because it can be quite disappointing to see that an hour of exercise may not even burn off a fancy cup of coffee. The benefits of exercise span way beyond how many calories your body is burning off. Moving your body and progressing using a stepped approach while maintaining a positive attitude is the best way to get great results!