Shorter Interval Workouts for Weight Loss!

interval training for weight loss

Interval Training increases weight loss and fitness. Find out how…

I’m always looking for a ‘Less Is More’ approach to fitness and home workouts. While I enjoy working out, I don’t live to workout! I also know that as we age our ability to recover after a workout decreases so we need to keep overly long and inflaming activities in check so we don’t suffer prolonged recovery times from our workouts.

Interval Training is a great way to keep it short and mix up your home workout routine, build cardiovascular strength and increase your ability to burn calories!

What Is It?
Interval training alternates between periods of moderate or medium levels of cardiovascular activity with short, intense periods of cardiovascular exertion.  Interval training can be intense and really get you sweating, but you can adjust the intensity depending upon your fitness level or current state of health. It’s a really ‘scalable’ workout!

Professional athletes use it for maximizing cardiovascular adaptation and increasing their rate of oxygen transport and utilization. In simpler terms, going quickly from a moderate level of activity to a higher level of exertion puts a demand on a different part of the cardiovascular system and the body than if we were to just stay at one steady pace the entire time. Interval training helps to increase and grow our cardiovascular strength.

Why You Should Love Interval Training!
There are three other benefits of interval training which is why I really love it. First, there is an increase in calories burned. Second, there is a possible increase in the amount of fat calories burned (as apposed to burning carbohydrates) depending on the duration of activity. And third, there is an increase in your resting metabolic heart rate after a session of interval training. Studies have shown that interval training raises your metabolism after a workout and keeps it higher for a longer period than any steady-state workout. * In other words, you keep burning calories at a higher rate even after you are done with your workout!

How Does It Work?
To perform interval training you can use any form of sustained cardio activity that lets you track your time. So you can use running,  biking, swimming, or walking. If you have access to gym equipment you can use an elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike, StairMaster, etc.

I’m going to present two types of Interval Training that I use –

As a certified Personal Trainer with NASM, cardio training is an important component of a balanced fitness program. NASM uses Zone Training for interval training, based on heart rate zones.

Dr. Mercola, a respected medical doctor, osteopath and natural physician who is devoted to discovering the most effective natural health practices, promotes a very simple interval training system he calls Peak 8 Training.

Zone Training

Let’s find out your Maximum Heart Rate (HRMax), which is supposedly your maximum beats per minute your heart can go without you keeling over. A simple way to find this is to subtract your age from 220. I’ll use myself as an example:  220 – 49 = 171

So, 171 beats per minute is approximately the maximum rate my heart should beat if I don’t want to go into anaerobic demise!

Determine your Zone
Next, we’ll determine the zones of heart rate activity that you’ll use to create your intervals. These zones are easy/beginner (Zone 1), medium/intermediate (Zone 2) to hard/advanced (Zone 3). We find these zones by multiplying our HRMax by a percentage:

[box title=”HR Zones” color=”#f00″]
Zone One  –  HRmax x 0.65  to  HRmax x 0.75  (Ex: 111 – 128)  65-75% of max

Zone Two  –  HRmax x 0.80  to  HRmax x 0.85 (Ex: 136 – 145)  80-85% of max

Zone Three – HRmax x 0.86  to  HRmax x 0.90  (Ex: 147 – 153)  86-90% of max[/box]

You’ll need to track your heart rate during the workout using a Heart Rate Monitor, or test your pulse manually during your workout. (take your pulse at your wrist for 15 seconds and multiply by 4) While it is easier to find a pulse at your neck, NASM encourages folks to test their pulse at the wrist rather than the carotid artery in the neck, where you can easily interfere with blood flow during exercise by pressing on the area.

Over time you get a sense of where you are in the HR Zones but initially you’ll want to track it. I also give some alternatives for tracking your rate of exertion below.

To use the Zone Training system, depending upon your current health and fitness level, you would do sets of intervals starting out in a lower zone and then inject short intervals in a higher zone, then return to the lower zone.

Here’s a beginner Interval Training Set:
Warm up for 10 minutes – Zone 1
1 minute – Zone 2
5 minutes – Zone 1
Repeat this 4 times
Cool down for 10 minutes – Zone 1

A more advanced variation:
Warm up for 5-10 minutes – Zone 1 or 2
3 minutes – Zone 2
2 minutes – Zone 3
Repeat this a minimum of 6 times
Cool down 10 minutes – Zone 1

–> If you’d life some nicely formatted Zone Training schedule sheets to guide you, please contact me and I will send you some!

Easier Versions of Interval Training
You can use an easier measure of exertion using the Borg scale of perceived exertion or the talk test.

Borg Scale
0 – Nothing
.5 – Very, very weak
1 – Very Weak
2 – Weak
3 – Moderate
4 – Somewhat Strong
5 – Strong
6 –
7 – Very Strong
9 – Very, very strong
10 – Maximal

The talk test determines your rate of exertion by whether you can talk or not. If you are able to easily talk throughout your workout then you are in a lower rate of exertion. In a moderate aerobic level of activity you would still be able say a few words, catch your breath, and then carry on talking. If it is hard to say a few words then you are in an anaerobic, or maximal phase of your workout.

Peak 8 Training

This is a much easier way to do interval training and one of my favorite. It only takes about 25 minutes! Try to do this 2-3 times per week for maximum benefit to weight loss or maintenance, and cardio strength.

Running, walking or using a gym machine like a bicycle or elliptical:

1.    Warm up for 3-5 minutes at an easy rate
2.    Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you can’t go another second
3.    Recover for 90 seconds at a slower speed or rate of exertion
4.    Repeat this cycle of 30 seconds of intensity and 90 seconds of recovery 7 more times
5.    Cool down for 5 minutes at an easy rate

[highlight bg=”#F8ED2C” color=”#000″]Be sensitive to your current level of fitness or health and don’t overdo it when you first start out. If you can only get in 2-3 cycles then fantastic! You can work up to the ideal 8 repetitions.[/highlight]

With any new exercise routine, ease into it and don’t create extra stress in your body by trying to do more than you are ready to do.

Shorter interval training sessions are a key part of your home workout routine. It breaks you out of any plateaus you might be stuck in, but more importantly it helps you to burn more calories and raise your metabolic rate throughout the day.

I noticed a huge leap in my fitness level and my weight reduction when I included Interval Training a couple days a week. I broke through a plateau I was feeling in my workouts. And I can definitely feel the increase in metabolic heat lasting throughout the day when I do an interval workout like the ones here!

 Shorter Interval Workouts in the News
Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN just did a piece highlighting recent studies confirming the benefits of a shorter workout using interval training.  Check out the video here: Working Out Harder for Less Time Is Effective


* James DV, Doust JH. Oxygen Uptake during Moderate Intensity Running: Response Following a
Single Bout of Interval Training. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. Occup. Physiol. 77(6):551–555; May 1998.

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Dorothy provides tips and information for staying fit and happy naturally during perimenopause and beyond, using the T-Tapp workout and more.

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