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Fitness Friday #3: Interval training

Pierre Allard dishes on the most effective way to work out with interval training

by Pierre Allard @CanadiensMTL /

Many of us would like to be in better shape. Making small tweaks to daily habits or workouts can make all the difference. With new fitness and diet fads popping up on the regular, deciding which regimen is right for you can be confusing. Habs strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard is here to help, offering up tips to help you reach your fitness goals. In his third blog post, the man responsible for Canadiens players' fitness explains how to work out effectively with interval training.

There are a few really interesting things about interval training. It allows you to hit a higher intensity level and to sustain it for a longer period of time. When you reach such a high level, it's normal to not be able to keep it up for very long.

Studies have shown that people with cardiac problems react very well to interval training. As in many cases, that which is used in the medical field is very often taken up in sports & fitness. The goal is to vary the intensity level, to reach a high point and then recuperate. You also have to vary the periods of exertion and rest. The other thing to consider is that interval training allows for a shorter workout. Let's face it: doing the same thing for 45 minutes straight can get long and boring. That's why I'll use interval training with the players - it allows them to aim for that high intensity level and keep the workout short. I recommend workouts of around 20-30 minutes, instead of 45 minutes.

Depending on your physical condition, you could do a 15-20 second jog before going back to walking. So if you're planning a half-hour workout, that would give you about 25 minutes of walking and five minutes of running. Progressively, you'll try to invert the roles, doing more and more running and less and less walking, until you get to the point where you feel comfortable running, or cycling.

Start with an interval training workout like the one you see illustrated below. Vary the intensity level by progressing with periods of rest. As demonstrated, do two minutes of running, cycling, treadmill or even elliptical with an intensity of 12 out of 20, which equates to 60% of your ability. That's the system we use here. Then, do one minute of exertion at 14 out of 20, or 70%. Then one minute at 75%, then at 90%, and then take an active break for a minute. After that, start again at one minute at 85%, and so on. This workout will run for 25 minutes.

Then, when you feel comfortable and ready for the next step, you can progress to the workout demonstrated below, which lasts 22 minutes. The intervals work the same as the first one.


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