Workout

How To's: Interval Training

Interval Training

So how do you get the most out of interval training, and how long should each push and recovery be? One of the many great things about intervals is that there's no single hard-and-fast rule. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits—and they're all good.

Start with these three interval training plans. Just know this: Interval training is tough, so if you're just starting to work out, spend a few weeks to a month building your stamina with cardio workouts before adding interval training to your routine. Add these interval training plans to your gym routine once a week to burn more calories, build more fitness, and get out of the gym faster.

1. Cardio Blaster

This is one of the best interval training workouts you can do to improve fitness. It burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes.

• Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (should feel like 8.5 or 9 on a scale of one to 10). Take three minutes active recovery (you're still moving, but at an easy pace) and repeat the 3 on/3 off pattern three to four more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This workout is like weight training for your heart—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves your overall health.

2. Speedplay

Sprinting is great for tightening and toning your legs, glutes, and core. It increases your muscle power, which helps you push harder and makes your non-interval training workouts feel easier so you can challenge yourself and burn even more calories.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row for 30 seconds at a nearly all-out effort. Take three minutes active recovery and repeat the 30 on/3 off pattern five or six more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

3. Cardio-Sprint Pyramid

This adds sprint interval training for a fast and fun workout. Here, after each burst of hard work, you'll recover for the same amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPE of 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

Build and taper the workout like this: 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This major calorie-burning interval training plan gives you the best of both worlds—high-octane cardio and muscle-sculpting sprints.

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching as a warm-up before exercise has been taught in schools for generations. Today experts debate the effectiveness of stretching cold muscles. The VarCity cold truth? Stretching is helpful, but keep these basics in mind:

1.  Avoid Stretching a Cold Muscle

Only perform "static stretching” (stretch and hold) after a five to 10 minute warm-up.  A warmed-up muscle can stretch longer and endure more stretching and you may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. 

2.  Use Dynamic or “Active” Stretching as a Warm-Up

Dynamic stretches mimic movements used in a sport or activity.  Warm-ups prepare the body for activity by helping to increase blood flow and muscle temperature.

If you're preparing to play tennis, for example, you’ll want to practice side and front lunges as part of your warm-up – movements you'll use to reach for the ball.

Light, gentle rhythmic movements work best for the average person.  Go through a shallow range of motion (e.g. a half-squat vs. a full squat) until you're thoroughly warmed up."

3.  Stretch at the End of your Workout

Stretching at the end of the cool-down phase (i.e. after exercise when your muscles are still warm) helps to maintain long-term flexibility benefits.

What Time Is the Royal Wedding!?

Meghan and her mom leaving yoga.

Meghan and her mom leaving yoga.

With just one day left until Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding, the big question isn’t “when is the royal wedding?” but what workouts is the bride-to-be doing to prepare for her royal internationally-televised wedding.  #nopressure

While Meghan was last seen leaving a gym in London last month, the 36-year-old has likely been sticking to one of her favorite workouts:  a pilates workout, which utilizes the Megaformer machine.

“Pilates Platinum is hands down the best thing you could do for your body,” Meghan told Women’s Health U.K. in 2017, referencing the fitness studio in Santa Monica where she used to take classes. “The results are incredible.  Your body changes immediately.  Give it two classes and you will see a difference.”

Pilates is a high-intensity, low impact class, which prioritizes constant, but slow movement, to really help you feel the burn.  During the classes, which can include 30 straight minutes of sliding split squats, participants typically burn 800 to 1,000 calories — and the calorie burn continues for several more hours.

The reason why — it’s so slow, and you’re using every single muscle.  While your slow-twitch muscle fibers repair, your body is using energy, calories and stored sugar so you honestly become a fat-burning machine.

One of the Pilates studios where the former Suits star has been sighted going for her Megaformer fix is Studio Lagree, which has locations in her old and new hometowns of Toronto and London.

Meghan is also friends with Pilates Platinum instructor Heather Dorak, who has documented her friend’s flexibility on social media.

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“Happy Happy Birthday to @meghanmarkle 💞. Thank you @pilatesplatinum for bringing this beautiful soul in to my life 10yrs ago. Can’t wait to celebrate with you 👙🌴,” the fitness expert wrote alongside a photo of the pair working their cores by the pool.

The former Suits star has also frequently been photographed out and about with her yoga mat.

Additionally, her mother Doria Ragland (pictured above), who arrived in London ahead of her daughter’s nuptials on Wednesday, works as a yoga therapist.  

Oh and if you’re still wondering “what time is the royal wedding?” — the big event starts at 7am NYT.  

Workout Like a Teen Justin Bieber: Part 2

Justin Bieber Workout

In our 2nd installment on how celebrity trainers would work with Justin Bieber, we refer to a Men’s Health’s discussion with Brian Krahn.  Brian has been working as a trainer, journalist, and marketing executive to supplement companies for two decades, but mostly considers himself a jock who helps regular guys achieve the basic goals of getting leaner and more muscular.

The first change Brian suggests for Justin Bieber’s workout routine is he’d have him do four workouts a week instead of five, using the classic Ian King split:

  • Monday: horizontal push (pushups and bench press variations) and horizontal pull (rows)
  • Tuesday: knee-dominant (squats and lunges)
  • Thursday: vertical push (shoulder press variations) and vertical pull (pullups and lat pulldowns)
  • Friday: hip-dominant (deadlifts, swings, and hip thrusts)

“This would allow for more balanced and more frequent lower-body work,” Krahn says.  And with one less workout each week, a lean type like Justin Bieber would be able to work with higher intensity, while giving his muscles more time to recover.