3 Beginner Interval Workouts For Fat Loss

Exercise, Interval Training, Weight Loss Add comments

Interval training beats the pants off traditional steady-state cardio when it comes to weight loss, improved fitness, and health.

The problem is that lots of articles and books I’ve read want to start you off with brutally high intensity sprints and short, short rests.

Yes, that’s taking things to the next level.  But if you’re brand new to exercising there are two main problems with these super hard, short sprints:

Too much, too soon.  I know people who have passed out on their second high intensity 20 second interval because they were pushing too hard.  Intensity is awesome, but give your body a chance to get used to the idea before you go all out.  (Interval training benefits can be had from walking if you’re a beginner, so don’t blow a gasket trying to be Usain Bolt)

Can’t push hard enough for the benefits.  The infamous Tabata protocol used an intensity of 170% of the subject’s maximum oxygen uptake.  Visualize your lungs and heart going at 100%.  Now add 70% on top of that!  If you’re not pushing that hard, you won’t see the same results.  Most of us simply can’t go at 170% yet.

So, what to do?

Start off with proven, effective interval training plans for weight loss and fitness.  As you get fitter, you’ll be able to push harder and see even more benefits.

elliptical machines

There are 3 interval training plans for beginners below.  You can do them any way you want.  Fast walk, slow walk.  Elliptical, treadmill, spin bike.  Jogging, running.  (If you use cardio machines, don’t choose the “Interval” setting.  Choose “Manual” and control the intensity by adjusting it yourself)

Beginner Interval Workout 1: Standard Intervals

This is probably the most popular interval training workout for fat loss out there, and it’s very simple:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity (increase slightly as you get warm and loose)
  • 1 min moderate to high intensity followed by 1 minute low intensity (repeat 5-8 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

The first time you do this, start with moderate intensity for the work intervals and only do 5 repeats.  As you progress you can either add more repeats of the mod/low cycle or else increase the intensity of the faster interval.

Beginner Interval Workout 2: Pyramid Intervals

Pyramid intervals have you starting off with shorter efforts, increasing each time.  Then you work your way back down.  Here’s an example:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 1 min high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 90 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 1 minute high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 5 min cooldown

You can progress on these by pushing harder on the high intensity periods, by adding a steps to the pyramid, or by cutting down the recovery periods (example: 50 seconds instead of 60)

sprint in desert

Beginner Interval Workout 3: Sporty Intervals

This workout mimics the unpredictable nature of sports.  You use different times and different intensities.  Think of it like the sprinting and jogging in a basketball or soccer game.

  • 5 min warm up
  • 2 minutes high intensity followed by 2 minutes low intensity (repeat once)
  • 30 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds low intensity (repeat four times total)
  • 10 seconds very high intensity followed by 50 seconds very low intensity (repeat 5-10 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

You can “mix and match” this workout.  For example, do 2 min high intensity, 2 min low, 30 high, 30 low, 10 very high, 50 low, repeat.

Also, you can progress by adding repeats or pushing harder on the higher intensity work periods.

When To Do These Workouts

Do these workouts either after your regular resistance training sessions, later in the day (ex: weights in the morning, intervals in the evening), or on the days where you don’t lift weights.

Since resistance training is of higher value for fitness and losing weight than intervals, you don’t want to do the intervals first and tire yourself out.

More Information On Intervals

Check out these posts to learn more about interval training:

More interval training workouts: Interval Training For Extreme Fat Loss

Intervals can cut your workout time by 90%: Important News For People Who Hate Long And Boring Cardio

How to make sure you aren’t sabotaging your interval training sessions: What To Do During “Rest” Periods

Interval training, tempo training, and steady-state training are all covered here: Effective Cardio Training

Simple interval workout for joggers and 5k runners: Improve Your Race Times By Running Less

Which training method will increase your heart power?: Endurance vs Intervals (Study)

spinning class intervals

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