As the name suggests, Interval Training is a combination of short, high intensity sprints, alternated with slower-paced recovery phases.

It’s a brilliant form of exercise – not just the most efficient way to improve your cardiovascular endurance but also the quickest way to reduce body fat. It gets such impressive results because it is constantly challenging the body and doesn’t allow it to plateau as it would in any other consistent exercise regime.

There are plenty of ways to do interval training; in the pool, on pretty much any piece of cardio equipment in the gym, or easiest of all, outdoors.

One of the great advantages of the last option is that the only equipment you really need is a good pair of running shoes. Other than that, you’ll need some markers to show you where to start or stop each phase – trees, lamp posts, or even a couple of jumpers on the ground will do, just as long as they’re relatively evenly spaced, about 50m apart.

If you fancy giving it a go, here’s a simple programme to get you started.

As you get more comfortable with it, feel free to up the ante by increasing the distance between markers (anything up to 150m) or adding extra elements in between runs – press-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squats or anything else that takes your fancy.

Warm up: walk to the first marker, jog to the second and sprint to the third. Repeat 3 times. (Just bear in mind that the warm-up is just that. So wait until you’ve got the first couple of sprints under your belt before you unleash your inner Usain Bolt.)

Warm-up complete, it’s time to get into it.

Phase 1
And you’re off…

  • Walk – Jog – Jog
  • Jog – Sprint – Jog
  • Sprint – Walk – Walk
  • Walk for 2 mins (Recovery)
  • Repeat twice

Phase 2
Picking up the pace

  • Walk – Jog – Sprint
  • Jog – Sprint – Jog
  • Sprint – Jog – Sprint
  • Jog for 2 mins (Recovery)
  • Repeat twice

Phase 3
Come on, Usain

  • Jog – Sprint – Jog
  • Sprint – Sprint – Jog
  • Sprint – Sprint – Sprint
  • Walk for 1 min (Recovery)
  • Repeat twice

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But believe or not, by the end of phase 3, you’ll have run around 5.4k.

That’s the thing about exercise. Stick at it and it’s amazing how it all adds up.

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