Interval training is quite popular these days for a reason: it works. If your walking (or any cardio) routine has stalled or hit a plateau, or if you want to lose more weight or tone up faster, intervals can certainly help. Intervals are also good for pumping up the quality of your workout without adding huge amounts of time.
What are intervals?
Intervals are short periods during your workout where you increase your speed or degree of difficulty, and then you slow back down to your regular pace. It’s that simple, but it can do wonders.
Walking at the same pace for the duration of your walking workout is “steady state” walking, and varying your pace is “interval” walking.
How to add intervals to your walks:
Suppose this is your regular routine: You warm up for five minutes, then speed up to your brisk walking pace for 20 minutes, then cool down for five minutes.
To add intervals, after you warm up, walk at your normal speed for two minutes, then add 30 seconds of faster walking, then slow back down for two minutes, then speed back up for 30 seconds and so on until you have walked your normal time or distance. Then, cool down.
You can, of course, make your intervals longer. Actually, 30 seconds is a beginning interval recommendation. After two or three weeks at that level, ramp it up to one minute of faster intervals with two minutes at normal pace. Then, two minutes fast and two minutes normal. Then, two minutes fast and one minute normal.
Just play with your intervals. Do what works for you and set ever-increasing goals. Your body can pretty quickly adapt to whatever you ask of it. That’s part of the beauty of the human body! So, to get better results, keep challenging it.
Hills are great intervals, too
Another way to do intervals is to walk uphill. This works great for treadmill walking and if you are fortunate to live in a hilly area, it can also work beautifully walking around your neighborhood. Instead of increasing your speed, just increase the incline on the treadmill for the duration of the interval, and then go back to your normal level. With hills, you can increase both the time and the incline, so you have a lot more room to play and challenge yourself. Bonus: Hill walking can really help your legs and butt look great, too!
Action Item: This week, add some intervals to one of your walks!
To time your intervals, I recommend the Timex Women's 1440 Sports Digital Watch #T5G881. I have two of these.
Need new shoes? Of course you do! I have always loved New Balance shoes--they are comfy but offer great support--and these are at a great price: New Balance Women's WW558 Walking Shoe