Interval Training is Supposed to be Hard

March 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Bareskin Towel, Fitness, tips, Weight Loss | Leave a comment
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Author: Jason Yun

Some people don’t get it! Intervals are supposed to be hard!

I’ve had a couple people tell me that  intervals in general are too easy.

One person that said this I actually had them in my class and was watching. She didn’t really blow me away with her workout performance, she looked like she was ‘pacing’ herself, and later I found out she was. Told me she was looking for more of a ‘cardio’ workout. Not with me! Not with me!

If you are cardio junkie I understand you might have a problem transisitioning into interval training. But you have to understand what you should be doing when performing intervals.


But first let me explain what they are for those of you who don’t know.

Interval training is taking exercise into work and rest. It may be one exercise or two or 3 or 5 or 10. The number doesn’t matter and isn’t set, which is another reason for the beauty of intervals and why I love them so much.

For this example I will use two common exercises– squats and pushups.

So for this example we will do a 10 round interval. So we’ll do a :45 on and :15 off. So you will squat for :45, and then rest :15, then you’ll move on to pushups for :45 and then rest for :15. Then you’ll repeat that until you do a total of 10 rounds. 5 of squats and 5 pushups.

Another beauty of intervals is you can change the length of the intervals to acheive different training goals. But that’s for another day.

So back to what you should be doing when performing intervals, since now you know what they are.

You perform work (an exercise) for a certain amount of time and then stop and rest, and then repeat for a certain number of rounds or exercises.

What does the stop or rest allow you do to?

It allows you to recover!

Your muscles can only do so much work before they start to fatigue. Latic acid will start to build up, you’re muscles will start to burn. You can fight through the burn sometimes but strength and power will deminish with every rep.

That’s why you don’t see Usain Bolt, the world record holder 100 meter sprinter, able to run the mile at his 100 meter race pace.

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That’s why football players run a play that on average lasts less then 4 seconds and then rest :40.

That’s why hockey players don’t play entire periods by themselves, they skate in shifts with usually 3 to 4 shifts before they go back out.

The examples above simply push their body and muscles too hard for them to continue at their pace. It’s classic interval training. If they were to ‘pace’ themselves during their competition they would most certainly lose the race/game and eventually their job.

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Interval training isn’t about pacing yourself. It isn’t ‘cardio’. Although if you want to increase your aerobic capacity, or as it’s called today ‘cardio’, interval training will do a better job then aerobics or ‘cardio’ work.

If you are a brand new beginner to exercise then ‘YES’ I do recommend pacing yourself when starting to do intervals.

As you get better, more fit, more strong, better conditioned you’ll be able to push yourself harder.

So let’s go back to the :45 on, :15 off protocal and the squats and pushups. If I pace myself maybe I can get 20 reps for both exercises. But if I push myself as hard as I can and go as fast as I can with good form maybe I can get 45 squats and 35 pushups. Maybe I can’t even continue by the end of the :45, and there is no shame in that.

If you do that for the 10 rounds, maybe the last round of squats or pushups you can’t even get 1/2 the reps you did in round 1.

And if intervals ever get ‘easy’, which they never should. You can always increase the difficulty by doing a harder variation– so jump squats or 1-handed pushups. Or you can add weight. Or you can increase the time of the interval– so maybe 3:00 on, 1:00 off, the classic boxing template– fighters are probably the last group of athletes who want to ‘pace’ themselves in competition :)

Or you can just do it faster. Complete more reps in the same time, or more reps in less time.

Intervals! Intervals! Intervals! Burn more fat! Build more lean muscle tissue! Look better naked! All in less time then cardio.

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About the Author

Jason Yun, a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Sports Nutritionist, is the owner of Yun Strength and Fitness Systems, LLC and runs Yun Fitness Bootcamps in Columbus, OH and the Metabolism Makeover Nutrition Course. Please contact him by email at  or visit the websites at  or You can follow what he\’s doing at


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