Interval Cardio Training

As a newbie runner, I’ve been using an interval training program that has really helped me maintain motivation. My previous attempts at running were quickly squashed because I tried too much, too fast, too soon.

As frustrating as it can be to take it slowly, over a period of time you’ll see your pace or endurance improve, and it will pay off in the end. I love this section of Dr. Natasha Turner’s book The Carb Sensitivity Program because she lays out the plan that can work for anyone:

JoggingWe all know sticking to a regular exercise routine can be tough. Choosing an activity you enjoy—one you know you’ll keep up with consistently—is always your best cardiovascular fitness option. If you want the most bang for your cardio buck, however, then high-intensity interval training on the treadmill (walking or running), elliptical trainer, stationary bike or indoor/outdoor track is your secret to success.

Short bursts of high-intensity exercise not only improve your cardiovascular fitness but also your fat-burning capacity, even during low- or moderate-intensity workouts. What’s more, high-intensity training provides a boost of feel-good and appetite-controlling hormones, which can truly be your secret weapons against unwanted weight gain, especially during the cold, dark winter months when many of us are prone to depression and cravings for comfort foods.

Please understand that interval training may push the thresholds of your lung capacity, endurance and fat burning, so it also can feel very challenging. I suggest beginning with a light 3- to 5-minute warm-up and with 5 intervals per session. If your breathing has not become less laboured before your next high-tempo portion of the interval, then allow yourself more time to recover or consider entering your cooldown. If, however, you are in your last interval of the day and still feel good, then progress by adding another sprint.

An interval routine should never be taken lightly. Gauge your capacity in the beginning, and slowly add 1 interval at a time into a session as you feel ready. Never complete more than 10 intervals per session.

Do not rush into interval training if you have heart disease, high blood pressure or joint problems, or if you are over the age of 40. If you fit into any one of these categories, consult your doctor first. If you are not familiar with the concept of interval training, here are a few examples to choose from. You’ll do cardio at least once a week for 20 to 30 minutes. A second cardio workout, one that could include a sport or an activity that you enjoy, is optional.

Four Examples of Interval Training

1. Steady-pace intervals of walking, jogging, running, cycling, etc.
• Complete a 5-minute warm-up at a gentle or moderate pace.
• Start with 30 to 60 seconds at a fast pace or high intensity followed by 60 to 90 seconds at a moderate or walking
pace. Alternate 5 to 8 times.
• Complete a 5-minute cool down at a gentle or moderate

2. Intervals that increase in speed or intensity throughout the workout.
This example applies to running on a treadmill. However, a similar approach could be taken by changing the tension or pedalling faster on a stationary bike, by increasing the level or moving faster on your elliptical machine, or by walking on the treadmill while increasing the speed or incline.

• 5-minute warm-up at 5.5 mph (9 km/h)
• 1 minute at 7 mph (11 km/h)
• 1 minute at 6 mph (9.5 km/h)
• 1 minute at 7.5 mph (12 km/h)
• 1 minute at 6 mph (9.5 km/h)
• 1 minute at 8 mph (13 km/h)
• 1 minute at 6 mph (9.5 km/h)
• 1 minute at 8.5 mph (13.5 km/h)
• 1 minute at 6 mph (9.5 km/h)
• 1 minute at 9 mph (14.5 km/h)
• 5-minute cool down

3. Intervals that vary by duration with 1-minute, low-intensity sessions between each interval. Rather than increasing the speed or intensity, your intervals can range in duration, for example:
• 30 seconds
• 60 seconds
• 90 seconds
• 60 seconds
• 30 seconds

4. Advanced option: sprinting (only 15 minutes or so).
• Warm up with a light jog for 5 to 10 minutes.
• Sprint 50 to 100 metres and lightly jog or walk back.
Repeat 10 times.
• Cool down with a light jog for another 5 to 10 minutes.

You could also use this approach on hills by running (or speed walking) up the hill and jogging down.

Copyright © 2012 by Natasha Turner, N.D.

The Carb Sensitivity Program: Discover Which Carbs Will Curb Your Cravings, Control Your Appetite and Banish Belly Fat by Natasha Turner (CA)

Published: Mar 27, 2012 by Random House Canada
ISBN: 9780307360717
Price: $32.00


Natasha Turner


Natasha Turner, N. D. is a leading naturopathic doctor and an authority on hormonal and digestive concerns. She is the founder of Clear Medicine, a Canadian-based wellness boutique that provides integrated health care. As a health consultant and educator, Dr. Turner lectures across Canada, appears frequently in the media and has contributed to the creation of two commercial weight loss programs, which have helped to transform many lives. She lives in Toronto with her husband. Visit her website:

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Cassandra Sadek is a thirty-something mama to an active boy who loves to help her cook and make messes in the kitchen. Balancing a career and a family leaves very little time for dinner prep, so she’s always looking for easy meals that are freezable. Cass has recently been bitten by the running bug, and is training with The Running Room and Goodlife Fitness. To keep her motivation going strong, she is participating in #GoTheDist2013 and is keeping her eye on Disney's Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Follow Cass on Twitter at @literalicious or @RandomHouseCA.

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