How to Get the Most Out of Your Interval Conditioning Workout

Metabolic conditioning is not only great for weight loss and energy development but is a great way to challenge an athlete.

Metabolic conditioning is not only great for weight loss and energy development but is a great way to challenge an athlete. By performing nearly max-effort intervals followed by a short period of rest, it's possible to create tremendous conditioning benefits when it comes to sports performance and your work capacity during a workout. This intense work also causes your body to continue burning calories after the workout is finished via a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

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Like any workout, it's important to progress interval training, which I think often gets lost in translation. People find intervals they like doing, and stick to them. Yes, they may get better at that interval as their conditioning improves, but there's no true progression.

I encourage you to think about metabolic conditioning a bit differently by gradually increasing the difficulty of the intervals they perform. One of my favorite strategies is the one-minute total-time interval, but you can adjust the work to rest ratio within this period to alter the difficulty and challenging your body.

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Here's a sample metabolic conditioning progression I like to use with my clients.

Level 1

0:20/0:40 = 1:2 -> For this, you rest for twice as long as you work. This is for beginners and will likely be too easy for fit individuals.

Level 2

0:30/0:30 = 1:1 -> Now things get more challenging. Depending on the intensity of your work, this may be all you're able to do.

Level 3

0:40/0:20 = 2:1 -> This really ups the intensity. The 20 seconds will fly by and you will feel like you had very little time to recover, but that's the point. You are pushing your body to the limit.

Additionally, you can add small progressions between each level by workoing for five more seconds and dropping your rest by five seconds. All you need to do is to make sure the total interval set is equal to one minute.

Once you have this selected, now you can finish customizing your interval workout.

Choose the number of rounds

This could be based simply on how much time you have to work out or how much time you can handle. It's best to start with a minimum of four rounds and progress from there.

Choose your exercises

You can perform a vast number of exercises in intervals. The key is to select something that will get your heart rate up for the workout. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Battle Ropes
  • Airdyne Bike
  • Rower
  • Jump Rope
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Bodyweight Lunges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Push-Ups
  • Squat Thrusts
  • Med Ball Slams
  • Burpees
  • Prowler Pushes


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: INTERVAL TRAINING | INTENSITY | CONDITIONING WORKOUTS