5 Minutes with Meg: Your Heart
Katelyn Sander

5 Minutes with Meg: Your Heart

It’s February 14th

No surprise, I’ve been thinking a lot about…

…your heart…

The muscle.

The sentiment.

And how high intensity interval training positively impacts both.

Many love to lift… many love to go for long runs… dance like no one’s watching… But how often do we ensure we’re driving our heart rate up high enough that we can’t sustain the pace for longer than 30-90 seconds?

Well, why should we do THAT Meg? 

I’m so glad you asked!

Interval Training simply means alternating between short bursts of intense physical activity and rest or less intense activity. You don’t hit this kind of training every day, but 1-3 times a week (depending on your strength foundation and fitness) and the payoff is awesome.  You can sprint, you can row, you can bike, jump, dance…everything is game!

For your HEART (The Muscle): 

  • 4 minutes of INTENSE cardiovascular exercise (85-95% max heart rate; 16-17 Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE)) interspersed with active recovery (same activity at 50-70% max heart rate) repeated 4 times, 3 times a week can generate measurable improvements to cardiovascular fitness in just 2 weeks!
  • 60 seconds bursts between 100-130% VO2 Max, followed by 3 minutes active recovery repeated 6 times per workout, 2 times per week significantly improves aerobic capacity and respiratory markers (with no negative impact on the immune system!) in just 3 weeks!
  • Pressed for time! Warm up… then HIT IT for 20-30 seconds, followed by 30-40 seconds recovery… and repeat 10, 8, even just 5 times!

For your “other” HEART:

 Any and all of the above or…

  • Flip the heart shape upside down and you have a pyramid!  Here’s an example that will push endorphins and other opioid peptides across the blood-brain barrier:
  • Warm up 5 minutes at a low, comfortable intensity (RPE 4 or 5). Alternate 1 minute at a high intensity and 1 minute at your low, comfortable intensity for 8, 10, 12…up to 18 minutes, gradually increasing the intensity of each subsequent high intensity interval for the first half, then gradually decreasing for the second. Let me use an 18-minute running pyramid as an example (1min/1min):

Run at 5kph for 5 minutes

8kph/5kph; 8.4kph/5kph; 8.6kph/5kph; 8.8kph/5kph 9kph/5 (now we go back down); 8.8/5kph; 8.6kph/5kph…8kph/5kph

  • And did you know that high intensity exercise encourages the brain to release endocannabinoids?! That’s right…cannabis in this form has been legal forever! Go all out (RPE 9-10) for 60 seconds followed by 60-120 seconds recovery (RPE 4-5). Repeat 6-9 times. You can squeeze this effective workout into a 22-minute window! (But leave time to shower!)

Please note: 

  • Warm up and cool down for at least 5 minutes before and after each workout.
  • You need to be able to sustain the activity of choice at 65-75% of your maximum heart rate for at least 30 minutes before you try this type of training. It’s also extremely beneficial if you have a good strength foundation (good core strength and minimal asymmetries and patterns of weakness), as we know high intensity intervals can increase the mechanical load on the body.

As always, I’m available and happy to help if you need further information or advice!


Meg Sharp, MSc., B.Ed.Kin, FST Executive Director of Personal Training CGoC


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