If you're getting bored with your morning jog and want to try something new with your exercise routine, interval training is a great way to implement an effective cardiovascular and strengthening workout.
In 30 minutes, you'll not only get your heart rate up, you'll see far more benefits than if you spent a half hour on a brisk walk through your neighbourhood.
Interval training can improve fitness, health, speed and stamina - even for beginners. Best of all, it burns more fat than straight cardiovascular exercise and really works to improve your metabolism.
Interval training is a form of exercise that alternates between periods of very high, intense activity or "sprint intervals," and periods of low activity, or "rest intervals."
However, you don't actually get to rest during the low-intensity periods - that's when you work on your strengthening exercises.
During the sprint intervals, you can spend 30 seconds skipping, stepping up and down into a bench or chairs, or jogging on the spot. When jogging on the spot, you can try bringing your knees up to your chest, bringing your feet to your butt, or alternating between the two.
To get the most out of this workout, you want to push yourself so your heart rate is at 60 to 80 percent of its maximum, so make sure to adjust the intensity of your sprint intervals accordingly.
Be sure to use a comfortable but challenging weight to get the most out of the strengthening exercises, and contact your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Begin your workout with a five-minute warmup, then start your first strengthening exercise.
* Stationary Lunges: Place your feet together with your toes pointed straight ahead and your hands at your sides. Take an exaggerated step forward with your right leg. Bend your right knee slowly, lowering your body close to the floor. Make sure your right knee is directly over the right foot and your back straight. When your left knee is about two inches above the floor, hold for one second, then push back up, forcing your body weight through the heel of your forward foot. Repeat 12 times, then switch to your left leg. You should feel this exercise in your gluteus and thigh muscles, not your knees, ankles or back. Repeat this exercise three times throughout your workout.
* Dumbbell Hamstring Deadlifts: Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend forward at the waist and lower the dumbbells down to your knees until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the procedure to return slowly to the starting position, and repeat eight times. You should feel this exercise in your hamstrings, gluteus and spinal erectors. Repeat this exercise twice throughout your workout.
* One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, and stand in a bent over position with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and back flat. Place your left hand on a flat surface in front of you, such as a low table or bench, for support. Using a rowing motion squeeze your shoulders together and pull the dumbbell up to your hips, squeezing your middle and upper back muscles. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat 10 times. You should feel this exercise in a variety of back muscles. Repeat this exercise three times throughout your workout
* Dumbbell Presses With a Stability Ball: Lie flat with your back on a stability ball, your knees bent at right angles and your feet flat on the floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with the dumbbells positioned beside your shoulders and slightly above your body. Press the dumbbells up above your chest until your arms are almost straight, bringing them togethe at the top. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat eight times. During this exercise, your trunk musculature is simultaneously working to balance and stabilize your body. Repeat this exercise twice throughout your workout.
* Bent-Over Dumbbell Raises: Hold one dumbbell in each hand and stand in a bent-over position with your feet shoulder width apart, your knes slightly bent and your back flat. Hold the dumbbells in front of your knees. Stay in the bent-over position and raise the dumbbells outside your body to shoulder level, keeping the same bend in your arms throughout the motion. Return to the starting position, and repeat 15 times. This is an effective shoulder exercise that isolates the rear deltoids and can improve posture. Repeat this exercise twice throughout your workout.
* Alternating Crunches with Kickouts: Lie flat on your back and bring both knees to five to six inches above your chest. Extend your right leg straight, then bring it back towards your chest while kicking out your left leg. While your right leg is extended, concentrate on raising your chest and shoulders up to a 45-degree angle, so your chest is reaching towards your left leg. Alternate from side to side, and repeat 12 times per side. Repeat this exercise twice throughout your workout.
Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information, call 604-420-7800 or go to www.karpfitness.com.