As you all know I have been speaking to you about getting away from doing the long, steady state heart rate workouts and moving towards different types of interval training.  Below is a post I came across by one of my mentors, Mike Boyle, on his blog site.  One of my earlier posts gets into traditional interval training and talks about alternating periods of work to rest.

If you have been working with me in the gym we have probably ended a session with a brutal metabolic circuit.  I’m beginning to believe that these short, intense, gut-busting interval-like circuits should be replacing some (if not all) of the time you spend on the treadmill.

If you must use heart rate to determine how hard you are working then base your recovery interval on your recovery. Intervals can also be determined by a recovery of a certain amount of BPM (beats per minute) and for most people will actually correlate to about the 1:3 ratio I recommended for beginners.

I feel like the research is pointing towards a recovery HR of about 50BPM. Meaning, if your work period is 30s then you are pushing your limits for THE WHOLE 30s and then checking your HR and recover 50 BPM before your next work interval. Simple. Work hard. Recover. Rinse and repeat for your predetermined amount of intervals.

The more fit you become the quicker your body will recover. If you want to improve your cardio and body composition then work a little harder each day.  Do Work, get results.  It’s a simple equation….I never said it would be easy though.

If you are curious about what I have progressed my training to here is a look at my Friday workout.  I warmed up with a “complex” which is a circuit that is completed without rest between exercises OR putting down the bar.  It was an explosive pulling day so I incorporated some swings, snatches, and pullups.  I finished myself off with Tabata front squats.  Tabatas are a killer form of interval training using a 20s work to 10s rest interval for a total of 4 minutes.  

Warm-up (barbell complex with 50lbs on the bar)

  • power clean for 5 reps
  • overhead squat for 5 reps
  • back squat for 5 reps
  • good morning for 5 reps
  • push press for 5 reps
  • bentover row for 5 reps

I used 1 minute rest and repeated for a total of 4 sets.

Workout superset:

  1. 32kg One arm Kettlebell swings for 20 reps left arm
  2. 32kg One arm Kettlebell swings for 20 reps right arm
  3. superset with 20 pullups

I repeated this superset 4 times resting 1 minute between sets.


1 minute timed dumbbell snatches with 50lbs with the left arm followed by 1 minute rest and repeat with the right for a total of 8 minutes.

Tabata interval front squats (thank you Dan John) with 65lbs.  20:10 interval for 4 minutes.

After shoving my heart back in my chest I crawled over to the mats to recover and stretch a bit, not at all concerned about how high I got my HR.  I just knew.   How do you determine how hard you are working?  Should your predetermined HR be a factor?  My workout is just one maniac’s way to combine strength training and cardio and is definitely not one that I would recommend doing more than once every couple of weeks.  Even the Tabatas.  Just try them, you’ll see what I mean.

I know. You’re probably saying “here he goes again” and you are correct. You’re thinking “Come on, don’t attack the target heartrate zone idea too”. Sorry. Here we go again. Every time I have this conversation with a group I always get the question “ If this stuff isn’t true, why is it plastered on the front of every treadmill”. I can’t really answer except to say that it probably came out of the legal department. The truth is that target heartra … Read More

via Michael Boyle’s Blog


Written by Steve