It’s a commonly accepted myth that you have to read Jane Eyre cover-to-cover (although, who’s reading books on paper nowadays?), in one workout session on the treadmill, to get a Beyonce-esq tight a$$. Women everywhere are spending hours of their precious time in the gym and are still not reaching their fitness goals. Let me tell you, you can burn all the rubber off a treadmill belt, but it really isn’t necessary if you put in some Q-T workout time.
If you seek improved cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, and overall improved fitness, you will get there faster by power walking over hilly terrain versus strolling aimlessly for an hour or two. The ups and downs of a hilly road or trail builds in low, moderate, and high intensity intervals to your workout session.
How do you add intensity to your workout without hiking up hills, going to a trainer, or paying to participate in a fitness class, you ask? Well, you can do that by changing a couple variables—speed and resistance. To add speed, you just move faster. Adding resistance requires adding incline, weight, or other opposing force against your direction of travel. For example, if you are strength training, add more weight to your effort; if cycling, running, or walking, add hills to your tour. If you decide to add jumping or sprinting to your routine, wear a weight vest or do it in soft sand. There are various ways to add intensity to your workout. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the more intense an interval is, the shorter that period will be. These high intensity intervals should be interspersed with low to moderate intensity exercise such as walking, jogging, or other less physically intense activities to give your body a chance to recover.
More challenging intervals increase your breathing and heart rates, fatigue some muscles, and make you sweat. By adding them into your workout, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, elicit a positive cardiovascular response (read: healthier heart), “tone” and “firm” skeletal muscle (Michelle Obama arms, anyone?), and increase your recovery metabolic rate (that means you’ll burn more calories while you’re relaxing or going about your business, post-workout, while your body returns to normal resting rate). Bottom line is that a workout that incorporates high intensity bouts can do more for you than a steady state workout, and in a shorter period of time. More bang for your buck there, sister!