Interval training is easy to fit into any schedule. Today we’ll share some exercises that can be done anywhere, with little to no equipment.
Here are some easy ways to create your own interval training experience at home, inside or out in the backyard.
- A fitness trail is a great way to get interval training built into your program. Plus, it adds a little spice to a basic exercise program. When I was in college, I would go to a park close to my apartment and run the fitness trail. It was an easy way to incorporate the jogging I loved to increase my heart rate, combined with less intense periods of stretching that gave a break from the aerobic workout.
- No dumbbells? Try substituting a water bottle or soup can for light weights or filling bags and socks with sand when heavier weights are needed.
- Remember, the goal is to raise the heart rate to at least 70% of the maximum recommended for your age, followed by a few seconds to a few minutes of strength or stretching exercises. However long is required to return the heart rate to 50% maximum. Or just aim for a 1:4 ratio. If you have a cardio blast lasting 60 seconds, allow four minutes for recovery. Start with 15-30 second bursts and add 15 seconds every week or month until you hit the one minute mark. It may sound like too little time but I promise it won’t feel like it while your muscles are learning to adapt and use oxygen more efficiently.
Always clear any new exercise program with your provider and start slow. Marathon runners aren’t created overnight. If you feel exhausted, proper form can’t be maintained, or it just plain hurts- stop!
Sprint interval training incorporates your favorite sport, like running, hiking, cycling, or swimming, in all out sprints for 15-30 seconds with 4 minutes of a more leisurely stretch. Varying not only the pace but incline can intensify the workout.
Too cold to jog outside long distances? No problem. It’s easy to rev up your heart rate in a little amount of space.
Start with 30 seconds of jogging in place or add some spice by making it a high knee jog, butt kicks or jump squats.
If your knees hurt, drop the count or switch to jumping rope or jumping jacks.Want a lower impact? Do 30 seconds alternating side lunges, body squats or shadow boxing.
No stairs to climb? Make your own climber. Get a step stool or short ladder and march up and down as fast as you can for 15-60 seconds.
- Push ups: No matter your fitness level- are a great way to strengthen chest, back, shoulder and core muscles. From pushing up against the wall, on an incline against the couch or chair, to traditional positioning on the floor, there’s a level that will work for everyone. Add some increased stress by taking extra time to lower and then raise yourself. But make sure proper alignment is maintained at all times- don’t let your back sag and make sure both sides are used to push up and down evenly.
- Knee lift: While standing, place hands behind head, bend over and raise your right knee to meet your left elbow. Then repeat on the left knee for a few minutes of stretching.
- Toe raises: Gently go up onto your toes, feeling the stretch in the back of your legs, hold, then return to the ground and repeat.
- Sit-ups: If you have neck problems, keep your entire neck and back on the ground and just raise your legs repeatedly or scissor kick them up and down. Increase the difficulty by alternating the left elbow to the right knee, then the right elbow to the left knee. It’ll work those hard-to-get to abdominal muscles.
- Planks: Planks are a versatile exercise that works the core muscles in easy to harder variations. Start on your knees and elbows tucked under your shoulders with your back acting like a tabletop that’s parallel to the floor. Need a bigger challenge? Extend out to your toes (extended planks) and reach your arms out in front to get a better burn. Then switch it up by going on each side and your back.
- Dead-lift into a shoulder press: Stand a foot from the wall, feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Squat until your bottom hits the wall and your weight is on your heels, all while keeping your back straight. Then move back to a standing position and up into a shoulder press. Repeat.
When starting out, just adding some upward stretches, neck rolls, or side to side bending are all great ways to encourage recovery between cardio activity. Even walking in place works.
The whole idea is to get active and make the time you invest in your workout count. Pick whatever grouping of exercises gets your heart rate up, keeps you moving and active each day. Mix it up and have fun. Even dancing a few minutes every morning will get your muscles ready for a brand new day while it helps you to shed pounds.