How to perform interval training

Research by Tremblay has long since showed that Interval Training is more effective for Fat Loss and Improving the Aerobic and Anaerobic System than regular long distance Cardio. Interval Training is very demanding so I would recommend 4 weeks of steady Cardio conditioning before embarking on any of the following methods.

Perform each of the following methods 3 – 8 times and allow approximately 2 minutes rest or until your heart rate drops to 60 – 75 % of your Max heart rate between each interval.

How to perform interval training

Image by Michael Connell

# 1. Sprints

Simple, cheap and high effective. Ensure you perform a comprehensive warm up before starting, pulled hamstrings can be very common. Sprint hard for 20 – 25 seconds before recovering and repeating. You can also do Hill Sprints and Sand Sprints to make this even more difficult.

# 2. Airdyne Bike

Full body and safe method. Minimal impact on the joints and so good for beginners. Keep the re- sistance high and work hard for 30 seconds before resting and repeating.

# 3. Rower

Another Powerful Interval method. Set the damper up nice and high and really drive with the legs. After some general coaching on form and technique the rower is another safe but effective method. Work hard for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.

# 4. Kettlebell Swings

If you are comfortable with Kettlebells then this is another excellent option. It is crucial with Swings to get the weight correct, swinging with too light a kettlebell will not generate the response you require. Keep form impeccable throughout. Swing for 30 seconds, rest, and repeat.

# 5. Swimming Sprints

This is my favourite holiday training method. Ensure that you use Front Crawl (Freestyle) or But- terfly Strokes to keep the intensity high. Depending on the length of the pool you can swim one or 2 lengths at a time. Try to finish in the shallow end for safety reasons or stay close to the side. I would not recommend performing this method out in open water.

# 6. Heavy Bag

Intervals of Kicking and Punching a heavy bag can have a great effect. Ensure you have good tech- nique first and then go for it. Keep all strikes crisp and hard. Depending on your intensity you may need to increase the time to 45 seconds per round.

# 7. Battling Ropes

A very demanding method and great to get some Pulling based movement into an interval session. You can use alternating arms or both arms together. Ensure that you perform a good warm up first to prevent any injury. Try 30 seconds, rest and then repeat.

# 8. Bodyweight Exercises

No equipment required with this method of interval training. Only full body intense exercise should be used, good examples are Burpees, Squat Thrusts, Fast Mountain Climbers, Jumping Lunges. You can alternate between exercises to hit different muscles and movement patterns. 30 second bursts before resting and repeating is a good start.

# 9. Skipping / Jump Rope

If you can Skip well then this can be an excellent Interval Training option. Skipping is a Self Cor- recting exercise meaning that you cannot cheat or use bad technique, the moment you do then the rope hits the feet and you stop. Try doubles or alternating legs to really get the heart rate up. 30 – 45 seconds is a good starting time before resting and repeating.

# 10. Barbell Circuits

Cardio training with a Barbell is very effective providing you maintain good form throughout. Once form fails so do you! I have found the Squat and Press (Thrusters) to be very effective. Ensure the weight is correct and technique is perfect. Intervals of approx. 30 seconds is a good start.

Interval Training is highly effective but you must choose the correct exercise. Following a good warm up you need to push yourself hard. You shouldn’t have anything left in the tank after the interval. Using a heart rate monitor is a great way to push yourself and keep your workout honest.

Over to You

Do you have a favourite Interval Training Method? Leave me a comment below…

How to perform interval training

Just because you’re new to fitness doesn’t mean high-intensity interval training isn’t for you. Otherwise known as HIIT workouts, these fast-paced routines have been shown to torch tons of calories in a short amount of time — so you don’t need to spend hours in the gym. This type of training will have you alternating between periods of maximum effort (think: 20 seconds of jumping jacks) and short recovery.

If you’re just getting into fitness — or starting over after an injury — the key to success lies in doing the right moves, at your own pace. Yes, HIIT workouts should be intense, but pushing too hard, too fast can result in injuries and other setbacks. Your task: Listen to your body, modify as needed, and complete each movement with proper form.

To kick off your journey without a hitch, we’ve tapped Justin Rubin, trainer for Daily Burn’s True Beginner program, to create three workouts, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. Each one has easy-to-master moves, made just for you. All you need is a chair and a yoga mat. Then, start with this dynamic, two-minute warm-up to get your muscles ready to go:

  • Jog or march in place for 30 seconds.
  • Standing tall, circle your arms backwards, one after the other, (as if you’re pretending to do the backstroke) for 30 seconds.
  • Finally, perform a front lunge, side lunge and back lunge stepping with the same leg, then switch to the other leg and repeat. Continue for one minute. Now, get ready to HIIT it!

Beginner HIIT Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

10-Minute HIIT Workout

Work up a sweat in less than the time it would take you to drive to your gym with this simple routine. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment to jump right in.

How to perform interval training

Jab, cross, front (right side): Stand with the right foot in front of the left, hips facing to your left side. Bring your arms up into a boxing position. Jab (punch) forward with the right arm, then throw a “cross” punch with the left arm, letting your body rotate as your left arm crosses over your body to the right. Your bodyweight should be over your right foot, with your back heel picking up off the floor slightly. Bring both arms back into the body, shifting your weight back to the starting position and facing front. (This is the “front” move.) Repeat on the left side. For more detailed instructions, try Cardio Kickboxing 1 and 2 in DailyBurn’s True Beginner program.

Jumping jacks: Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out while raising your arms. Repeat as fast as possible. If a regular jumping jack is too difficult, step side to side while raising your arms instead.

Sumo squats: Position your feet a little more than hip-width apart and point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Keeping your weight in your heels, back flat and chest upright, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage your glutes and quads and push back to the start position. Repeat.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, reverse lunge and forward fold.

20-Minute MetCon: HIIT Workout

Metabolic conditioning is designed to maximize your caloric burn, so you should expect this workout to feel challenging. You’ll go through five moves that focus on full-body exercises. Try to do as many reps as possible during each 45-second interval, then rest for 15 seconds before repeating.

How to perform interval training

Push-ups: If you can’t complete a traditional push-up, place your hands on a stable chair or plyo box instead of the floor. Or, try doing push-ups with your knees resting on the ground.

Squats: For extra assistance, use a chair for added support. Remember to keep your feet under your hips and your bodyweight in your heels, says Justin.

Butt kicks: Jog or walk in place, kicking your right heel up to touch your bottom. Repeat with the left leg.

Tricep dips: Place your hands on a chair or a low table, with your back to the chair. Put your legs straight out while balancing on your palms. Bending from your elbows, lower as far as you can, then press up to the original position. Engage that core!

Side Lunges: With your bodyweight in your heels and your toes facing forwards, step to the left in a deep lateral lunge, keeping your knee above your toes. Alternate legs.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, a quad stretch and a forward fold.

30-Minute MetCon: HIIT Workout

Got half an hour? Try this longer workout to challenge your core, and your upper and lower body. (Fun fact: This will burn more calories than 30 minutes spent walking on the treadmill!) Complete the same three-minute warm-up as in the previous workout, then get ready to move it, move it.

How to perform interval training

For exercise descriptions, see above.

Cool down with an overhead stretch, a reverse lunge, a quad stretch and a forward fold, holding each move for 30 seconds.

To get new workouts free you can do right at home, head to

Originally published February 2015. Updated February 2018 and September 2021

Q: I got into a discussion the other day about the lenght of intervals. This program has as you know one interval of 30 seconds and one of 1 minute (I am just finishing week 2 and those have been the goals so far).

The people I discussed with meant that the intervals were too short. An interval of 30 seconds means that there is no way one’s pulse can get as high as recommended for interval training. They recommended at least 3 minutes intervals, preferably 4 minutes.

I am not sure if the short intervals are included in the program because most of us are so out of form that we cannot possibly do longer intervals? Or is there research that shows that short intervals are more beneficial?

Interval training for fat loss has nothing to do with heart rate. In my opinion, there is no direct relationship between heart rate and fat loss.

The latest interval training study from Australia that showed intervals were superior to long slow cardio used 8 second intervals.

Its all about the amount of mechanical work done during the work interval.

We are not worried about cardiovascular fitness here (although that will obviously improve with interval training of any level), but fat loss.

Sounds like the people you were talking to were getting the reasons for interval training mixed up.

For distance runners, intervals of 2-5 minutes are very helpful. But for fat loss, we don’t give a crap what endurance athletes have to say.

After all, look at the dead end road they led so many people down with slow, boring, inefficient, time-wasting cardio for weight loss.

Now, I don’t think you need to do the 8s interval method. The 30s interval method I use in the Men’s Health Belly Off program works just as well for burning belly fat. There is no best interval training method.

In Fact, I will use up to 2 minute intervals depending on the situation.

Any type of this interval training for fat loss is likely better than slow cardio, and allows for faster workouts.

Besides 8s intervals are not practical on any piece of equipment, and a lot of guys here are doing their intervals on machines. which is generally fine.