Weighing In: Hitting Your Highs and Lows with Interval Training

Each week, our own fitness fanatics Sabrina Evans and Emily Keifline will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.

Work out _ Shuyao Chen

What are the two things every girl (and probably every human being alive) hates?

Spiders and sweat.

Sorry, not sorry – spiders are gross. And as for sweat, nothing player-hates harder on your high-roller status than walking into class with your hair plastered to your forehead.

So it comes with great regret and internal struggle that we inform you that the fitness trend we’re talking about is going to make you sweat. A lot.

With that disclaimer, Weighing In presents: interval training.

Breaking a Sweat

“I would describe interval training as a flow of highs and lows,” says Penn State fitness instructor Lucy Stubler – the ‘highs’ in this case being short high-intensity bursts of speed and the ‘lows’ being slow recovery phases.

Interval workouts alternate between a short series of moves that get your heart pumping and quick time-outs to give you a breather. Obviously there are extremes to this kind of workout, but Penn State fitness classes look for the sweet spot between hyperventilation and collapsing in a heap on the floor.

“We offer a few different class formats that provide patrons with an Interval Training style workout,” says Stubler, highlighting Calorie Killer, Tabata, X-training and even Boot Camp as great classes to try for anyone interested in giving interval training a try.

Make it Your Own

If you’re low on time and still a little hesitant when it comes to taking a class, incorporating an interval workout into your personal regime is easier than you’d think.

“Interval training is so convenient!” says Emily Banach, an assistant Fitness Coordinator at the White Building. “You can get a super effective workout in 20 minutes or less. You’ll be working at a high level of intensity, so essentially you wouldn’t want to be doing it for a long duration of time.”

First, Banach says you’ll need to choose an intensity for your ‘highs’ that will take you as close as possible to your maximum effort for each interval. After you’ve established your bursts of speed, you’ll need to create an interval of rest that will allow you just enough recovery to be able to perform throughout the rest of your set.

“You choose whatever exercises you want,” she says. “You can do intervals of sprinting and walking on the treadmill, intervals of cardio and muscle moves – there are so many possibilities! As long as one move is challenging and the other is more of a recovery.”

You Do You

It can be more than a little daunting starting a workout that requires you to not only reach your limits, but also identify those limits so you don’t exceed them. When you first start incorporating interval training into your workout, safety comes before sweat.

“Before starting a workout, know that it is all about YOU,” says Stubler. “Listen to your body. When something hurts, stop.”

And don’t feel like you’re getting any less of a workout just because the girl next to you is doing five burpees for every two of yours.

“The idea is to know your own body and push past your individual threshold,” says Stubler.

Interval training is a challenge for sure, but should it be scary? Don’t sweat it. Literally nothing is scarier than spiders. Period.

Photo by Shuyao Chen