Basically you spend about 20 minutes alternating between walking and short bouts of running. The idea is that you’ll increase the duration of the runs until you can go for about 30 minutes straight.
It quickly occurred to me that I don’t really want to run a 5K (which takes about 30 minutes), or increase the duration I can run. What I want to do was what I was already doing, except run much faster during the intervals that I was currently jogging.
Why would I want to do that?
HIIT me with your best shot
After years of media coverage, you’re likely familiar with HIIT, an acronym for high intensity interval training. It’s basically what I described above, except the running portion is much more, well, intense.
Let’s call it sprinting.
The benefits are substantial and substantiated by science. Compared to a 30-minute jogging session, a round of intense interval training results in both aerobic increases (endurance) and anaerobic increases (power).
Plus, you burn fat faster, you strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system in a meaningful way, and you lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
All in less time than traditional endurance training. You know, so you can get back to binge-watching Netflix.
Run, Forest, run!
Actually, you don’t have to run — any exercise will work. You can do HIIT while cycling, in spin class, on an elliptical machine or stair stepper, with pushups, pullups, or burpees, even weight lifting.
As for the time you need to spend, it varies by intensity. My friend Krista Stryker offers a ton of HIIT variations that all take 12 minutes. When you’re ready to get super advanced, Tabata training will get you super fit in the
worst most efficient four minutes of your life.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Start small and slow — even slower than you think you need to. Take it from me, you’ll be able to up your intensity almost sooner than you want to.