I am always banging on about interval training as being the most efficient, effective route to postnatal fitness and fat loss. But intervals can be confusing… especially if you’re used to long cardio sessions or steady paced ‘legs, bums and tums’ type static sessions (or of course if you’re not used to doing anything at all ;)) so I’m going to try to clear it up for you! I hope this helps.
Firstly: What IS Interval Training?
Interval training means you work out HARD (or INTENSLEY) for short bursts, alternating with catching your breath with slower work, or different work (like resistance exercises) and then doing them again. You keep alternating these short bursts for 1 minute at a time, or 30 seconds at a time, for a total of around 15 minutes.
Yes, that’s a TOTAL workout time of 15 minutes! Sounding slightly more interesting? In fact, if you can do it for much more than 15 minutes, you’re not doing it quite right, and are simply doing long, steady cardio.
Why are intervals best for postnatal fitness and postnatal fat-loss?
Long duration, steady pace cardio exercise such as jogging, or pedalling away at medium pace on a bike at the gym, has a number of disadvantages:
- It’s boring and it takes too long. Intervals will cut the time you spend working out aerobically by at least half
- You get a metabolic boost during and after your workout. This means you are not only losing body fat more effectively while you workout, but your metabolism is boosted for some time afterwards. So you’re still burning calories after you’ve showered and made a cup of tea!
- Intervals are QUICK. 15 minutes at time, 4-5 times a week is all you need
- You can do them anywhere with no equipment and there is endless variety
All of the above means that you WON’T get bored, you CAN fit it into your life and therefore, you’ll stick at it and see results! In a nutshell, postnatal fitness training in this way is both EFFICIENT and EFFECTIVE.
So what do you actually do? Well a simple cardio interval session requires that you pick one activity that gets you out of breath. This could be running (Not jogging. Running. So that it’s pretty hard to do it for the full minute), or skipping with a rope, or skipping without a rope!, or running up and down your stairs, or dancing as insanely as you can with your kids…
You do it as hard as you can for a minute, then you slow down, march on the spot or walk briskly for minute, then you do it again. 15 minutes total. If you feel like you could keep going for longer – then you didn’t do your ‘hard’ minutes… hard enough!
For maximum effectiveness, you alternate resistance (using weights or your own bodyweight) with cardio/aerobic exercises.
I hope that makes a bit more sense… and please give it a go! I want to know what variations of ‘getting out of breath’ you can dream up (keeping it fairly clean of course… although THAT could be a really fun workout ;)