What if I told you that short bouts of exercise may actually be ideal? It’s true!
If you’re a woman over 40, interval fitness is the best exercise format for women in perimenopause. You get an efficient, effective workout in a short time that can help you gain bone strength and resilience as well as beat hot flashes.
What is an interval fitness workout?
An interval workout includes periods of time or certain exercises that require high effort along with low-intensity exercises or rest periods. The idea is that you want to work hard for a bit and then back off for a bit. Interval fitness workouts will ramp up your heart rate and then give you a short recovery period.
An interval workout is sometimes called a circuit workout. A circuit is a group of exercises performed in a particular order.
You don’t have to have different exercises for an interval workout, though. You simply need to alternate periods of work and recovery.
How are interval workouts organized?
There are two basic types of interval workouts: rep-based and time-based.
In a rep-based circuit, you perform a set number of repetitions of a particular exercise before moving on to the next exercise. So if your circuit is made up of five exercises and the workout is based on 10 reps, you would do each of the five exercises 10 times to complete one circuit.
This ladder workout is a rep-based circuit you can do at home with no special equipment.
In a time-based circuit, you perform exercises for a certain amount of time before moving on to the next exercise. So if your circuit is made up of five exercises and the workout is based on one minute, you would do each of the five exercises for one minute to complete one circuit.
This awesome small space workout is an example of a time-based circuit.
Three reasons you should use the interval fitness format in your workouts
These workouts are effective but QUICK!
If you want a workout that lets you know you’ve exercised but it doesn’t take all day, interval fitness is the format for you!
Because the high intensity portions of the workout require intense effort, you cannot sustain that level of effort very long. Even with the rest or recovery periods, interval workouts demand your all. You can get a muscle-burning workout in less than 30 minutes.
You don’t need any equipment or a gym membership
An effective interval workout can be done in your own home. Exercises that use you’re your bodyweight can serve as the basis of your interval workouts. Check out these bodyweight workouts you can do at home to get you started.
As you get more fit, having simple home gym equipment will allow you to continue to challenge yourself with interval workouts.
Interval fitness is based on flexible workouts that can adapt as you get more fit
If you’re doing a reps based workout, as your fitness improves you’re able to complete the workout faster. To continue to challenge yourself, add another circuit of exercises to see if you can complete the workout in the original amount of time.
If you’re doing a time-based workout, as your fitness improves you’ll be able to complete more repetitions of each exercise in the fixed amount of time. This increase in total amount of reps is known as “volume”- – your total workout volume should grow as you get more fit.
Either way, you don’t necessarily have to change the exercises in the workout to continue making it harder. The interval fitness format is what creates the challenge.
BONUS: Interval fitness is the ideal workout format for women over 40
Rare is it that we women over 40 get good news, but I get to deliver some right now! Interval workouts, with their high intensity efforts and short overall time commitment are ideal for perimenopausal women.
The hard effort helps to burn cortisol– a stress hormone that can cause weight gain around the midsection. Interval workouts also support balance in the adrenal glands and can even help fight hot flashes. Furthermore, by getting hot and sweaty we boost production of the hormone that helps us burn more calories.
Best of all, the short workouts fit with the time demands on those of us working, raising kids, tending aging parents, and generally running the world.
Ready to give interval fitness a try?
If you still think you’re too busy to exercise, give interval fitness a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how great you feel after working hard.
Karen Shopoff Rooff is an ACE certified personal trainer and health coach. The Well Balanced Women blog is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please discuss your health issues with a licensed medical practitioner.