Interval Training – Athletes Have Adopted It, Now You Ought to As Well

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A common complaint with people getting on cardio workouts is they begin with a great deal of enthusiasm and see some immediate weight loss. This motivates them to continue along the same workout course, but at some point they plateau. It doesn’t take long for the enthusiasm to wear off, and the workouts diminish and then end. So why does our bodies give us this little teaser, and then slam the door shut?
The primary reason for this is the reason humans have survived quite well throughout the ages: we are very adaptable. And that factor that has allowed the human race to survive quite nicely is the reason we hit these weight-loss plateaus. Even if we are on a strenuous exercise routine, over the long run our bodies will adapt to this regimen, it will call for more calories to sustain itself, and weight loss comes to an abrupt halt.
As with many things, we have to trick the body, or never let it get into a routine that it can get comfortable with. So in the last few years interval training has come into vogue. It is physical training that involves bursts of high-intensity work interspersed with periods of low-intensity cardio. The workout can involve cycling, running or rowing, but any activity that is anaerobic exercise will work. This type of training has become increasingly popular with athletes, as it simulates the high-intensity followed by rest periods we see in basketball, football, soccer, hockey and almost all others. Those of us into weight loss can use it as it is known to give a greater boost to our metabolism than typical long-duration cardio.
But probably the biggest advantage of interval training is you can get more benefit for your body in less time. There’s no question that traditional cardio is good for the heart and will burn calories. But the more you do of it the more damaging it will be to the knees, ankles, hips and most of the other joints. So obviously if you can accomplish more while working those joints half the time will mean less wear-and-tear, and more recovery time. Advocates of interval training maintain that a 30-40 minute workout three times a week will give you the cardio exercise you need, plus won’t be nearly as boring because of the diversity of workouts.
You build in this diversity by gradually changing and increasing the workout intensity, choose different exercises to target the same muscle groups, and allow proper recovery times between exercises. The body will never be able to get into a rhythm or pattern that it can adapt to, and you will be on your way to weight loss. Many experts in cardio fitness now maintain these cardio workouts are the best exercises for burning fat.
Men’s Health magazine has a suggested workout that I use called the pyramid structure. After a five-minute warm-up, do 30 seconds of high intensity, then one minute of low intensity. Build that to 45 seconds high intensity, one minute low, 60 seconds high, one minute low, 90 seconds high, one minute low, 60 seconds high, one minute low, 45 seconds high, one minute low, 30 seconds high, and one minute low intensity. End the session with a five-minute cool-down. You’re in and out of the workout quickly, and have accomplished more fat-burning cardio than you would with an hour of regular cardio.