Get The Most Out of Your Workout!

I recently read one of Mike Boyle’s articles on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Here are some key points that I took away from the article:

1)      Tabata – Tabata follows the protocol of 20 seconds of intense work and 10 seconds rest done in seven or eight bouts. They compared Tabata work to 90 minutes steady state workout, and the results showed the 20/10 protocol improved the VO2 max and the anaerobic capabilities more than the steady state workout! For the tabata workout, we are talking a 4 minute workout!!! Four minutes compared to 90 minutes. The typical person takes 4 minutes to go to the bathroom- never less have an effective workout!


2)       High Intensity versus Low IntensityMore intensity equals greater expenditure per minute.  So if you believe that walking on the treadmill for 40 minutes at a “target heart rate zone” is being more productive than a mile run at 6.0 mph, then you need to reassess your workout plan. I am going to use the treadmill as my example. A 136-pound female would burn about 50 calories/mile walking at 4.0mph. Running a mile at 6.0 mph the same 136-pound female would burn around 108 calories. Walking would take 15 minutes when the run would take 10 minutes! Same mileage, why not get more bang for your buck- work harder!

You CAN do it!

3)      Aerobic Intervals– The biggest benefit of interval training is that you can get a tremendous aerobic workout without the boredom of long steady state bouts of exercises. If you keep the heart rate elevated at 60 percent threshold during the intervals, then the workout can be considered aerobic and anaerobic. All of the aerobic work is a by-product of our anaerobic work. You can use this method by using a heart rate monitor. For your intervals, do not go by time, but by the amount of time it takes you to get your heart rate to the desired target. When it reaches the 60% threshold heart rate, recover until your heart rate is back to RHR (resting heart rate). Repeat 6 to 8 intervals

Threshold HR = (Max HR- Resting HR) x % + RHR

4)      A Beginner to Interval Training– What’s a good starting point if you are new to interval training?

Level Rest: Work Ratio Time on: time off
Beginner 3:01 15 sec: 45 sec
2:01 15 sec: 30 sec
Intermediate 3:01 30 sec: 90 sec
2:01 30 sec: 60 sec
Advanced 2:01 60 sec: 120 sec
1:01 60 sec: 60 sec

*The stationary bike is the best to begin on because you can work really hard on it and not injure yourself. Performance enhancement expert Alwyn Cosgrove states the bike allows “maximum metabolic disturbance with minimal muscular disruption.”

I love using the jump rope for interval training. It’s easy, convienient, and gets your heart rate up! It’s also an easy tool to use to see your progressions and work your way up to longer time and less recovery! Start at :30 seconds on- :30 seconds off and then progress from there!

You Gotta Start Somewhere!

5)      Put it into practice.

Inspired by this article, I did my own interval workout on the rowing ergonometer.

The workout included 8 intervals:

60 sec on: 45 sec off

60 sec on: 60 sec off

60 sec on: 75 sec off (1:15)

60 sec on: 90 sec off (1:30)

60 sec on: 105 sec off (1:45

60 sec on: 120 sec off (2:00)

60 sec on: 135 sec off (2:15)

60 sec on: 150 sec off (2:30)

Each interval I held a negative split from the previous interval. I found myself working harder because I knew that the next recovery period was longer than the last one. The recovery time was effective because I focused on lowering my heart rate as low as I could get it before starting up again. The 60 seconds of work were efficient and successful because there was a subliminal incentive with the extra rest periods– you would feel guilty taking all that rest and not putting forth all efforts!

Good Luck and remember “Play hard, work harder, train wicked hard!”


About trainwickedhard

About Me: My name is Ana Tocco. I am a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. I graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology and walked on to the Womens' Rowing team where I dedicated three years to my athletic career. We were a successful crew winning A-10 Championship, Dad Vail Regatta, and US Rowing Collegiate Championship races. Before college, I played soccer and basketball and I still have the passion of team sports. I completed my internships at BNS Sports Science in Salem, MA and Athletic Evolution in Woburn ,MA. I was a Personal Trainer at FitCorp and currently am a Strength Coach/ Personal Trainer at Boyle's Strength and Conditioning Facility. I am RKC(Russian Kettlebell Challenge) Certified, a Functional Movement Specialist (FMS), and have my NSCAA Level IV Soccer Coaching Diploma and am a goalkeeper coach for Arlington High, Arlington, MA. If you are interested in working together to meet your fitness goals contact me at My specialties include: Kettlebell Training, Strength and Conditioning, Functional Training, Circuit Training, Weight Loss, and Muscular Endurance Training.
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2 Responses to Get The Most Out of Your Workout!

  1. s2bfitness says:

    Hey Tocco,

    Let me first say that your writing is getting better and better 🙂
    1) One note on Tabatas is that it is extremely difficult for the average person (or athlete) to work at the required intensity intended for this protocol. This is not a bad thing but if you think about it, if people are at submax workloads for the work period why stop at 4 minutes? Why not 8? Or 16? Maybe take a 2-3min rest every 4 minutes and repeat. I see many loopholes when trying to work tabatas in a gym setting.

    2) Steady state has it’s place especially for beginners, elderly, and the “at risk” population. I have found that even a 1:6 work to rest can be too much for someone in those categories. I usually recommend 1-3months learning how to guage THR with steady state training then progress to a 10s:50s scheme for 15min and going from there.

    Adding in one steady-state workout each month might also not be a bad idea. The Law of Accomodation states that there is a decrease in response of a biological object to a continued stimulus. Can our bodies get used to interval training? Just food for thought.

    P.S. Have you tried the Tabata protocol with something like front squats or squats and presses? Try it….I had to peel myself off the floor after completing one with 95lb front squats :/

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