Interval Training


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Interval training? On a site to do with acupuncture? "And exactly when did the ancient Chinese propose this?" you may be asking!

Well yes. And no, I've never read anything about it in the ancient texts. Plenty written about Tai Chi, of course, which I thoroughly recommend, but not about this modern way of training.

However, it has merits when you can't do Tai Chi, don't have much time and do want to get fitter. But it's not for all ages and, if you do it wrongly, can exhaust you.

Done right, however, and you'll soon start feeling fantastic, easily able to run for buses when, before, you ground your teeth as you watched them disappear into the distance.

Weight Loss

If you seriously want to lose weight, and don't have much time, try interval training as your weight loss exercise.

It doesn't take long and your circulation will improve almost immediately: your heart will love it! (Of course, do take advice before embarking on any exercise regime if you aren't sure.)

Building Resilience, Tone and Bulk?

If you are Yin deficient, then as you begin to improve, and are happy about walking fast without exhaustion, interval training may become a real possibility. But you should also add some weight training to help you build tone (for men and women who don't want to build bulk) and bulk (for those men and women who do want to build bulk).

What is Interval Training? And how do you do it?

Interval training is easy but you do need space, or a gym with running (eg treadmill), elliptical, cycling or rowing machines. You should also check with your health practitioner, your doctor or acupuncturist for example, that you're ready for it.

Personally I prefer to do it out of doors. Recent research at Glasgow University Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health is backed by Harvard University and concludes that exercising out of doors is better for your mental health.

However, if you aren't used to running out of doors, perhaps you'd be better in a gym on a treadmill, cycling or rowing machine where there is supervision by trained staff.

Here's how to do interval training

  • OK. Spend five minutes warming up, by which I mean walking or jogging fairly fast. Do some stretches if you like. Preferably get slightly out of breath.
  • Then walk or run (or row or cycle ...) as fast as you can for 30 seconds.. I don't mean as fast as you feel comfortable! I mean as fast as you can.
  • Walk or jog back to where you started: take about a minute over this, or perhaps a minute and a half when you begin doing this. Don't sit down for a little rest: then get right on and do it again.
  • And again. Do it up to eight times, three or four times a week. Eventually do it daily when you're fit.

That's it. It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, even if you crawl back to the starting point. Probably 10 minutes, max.

Then walk swiftly home or, if you go by car from the gym, do a cooling down exercise: get someone to explain it, though basically it means doing a steady jog or walk for 5 minutes to allow your heart rate to regulate downwards and recover.

And when you first start doing this, you won't be able to do it eight times. Once will be enough, after which you'll stagger home and lie down! But at least do it once, even if your run is slower than many people's saunter. Next time will be easier. (When's a good time to do it? Not before bedtime! But any other time is ok, so what about during a lunch-break, as per the clock on the right, copyright agsandrew?)

This particular weight loss exercise makes your system pump like crazy. As you repeat the process every couple of days, you'll find your whole metabolism improves. Your lungs will work better, you'll feel more alert, your moods will perk up, you'll find yourself being more careful about food. And, amazingly, the pounds will shift.

Oh, and you'll sleep better.

And your heart will love interval training. Don't think that you should protect your heart (though check with your doctor if you have doubts). Your heart is about the strongest muscle, and the most enduring in your body. The last thing your heart will do is stop(!)

As you get fit, your muscles will burn up fat and tone you up nicely.

Is there any safety mechanism built in?

Absolutely! By your body: when you're unfit, your muscles will burn and stop you doing too much. This is because of a build-up of lactic acid which is why your muscles burn or ache as you push your exercising to its limits. As you get fitter, it takes longer for the lactic acid to build up, so you can do more. No outside supervision required!

Your body is designed to exercise. Our bodies didn't run us out of Africa just to sit around for the rest of eternity.

Any other suggestions?

  • If you easily get dizzy when walking or exercising, eat a small meal about 45 minutes beforehand. This is so that you don't run out of Blood and Qi whilst exercising and embarrass yourself by falling over when at full tilt.
  • Work up to the full regime slowly. Perhaps do it just once, ie one run fast for 30 seconds then 90 seconds slow, the first few times.
  • Build up to doing it as fast as you possibly can. It's enough to get completely out of breath in the 'fast' bit, even if you are hardly even running.
  • With interval training the slow intervals of 90 seconds between the fast bits are just as important. It's like a Sitz bath, where you alternate heat and cold, forcing your body to learn to adapt faster. But with interval training, you are teaching your heart to run fast then slow then fast then slow then ... That's what it did back on those African plains as it pursued game and was pursued by bigger game.
  • Do Tai Chi instead. Overall, it's probably better, less stressing and can be done by all ages. But it doesn't work as fast for building up cardiovascular fitness, not least because it takes some time to learn the full range of moves in Tai Chi.
  • Keep in touch with your acupuncturist who is trained to recognise and treat imbalances between Yin and Yang and can help you achieve health faster. Acupuncture also gives you an almost unfair advantage in any fitness regime!
  • Don't assume that because you are doing interval training, that's all you need to do. Everyone's personal and physical needs are different, but I would suggest that many people benefit from some form of resistance training, for example weight training. By challenging your muscles and joints progressively, they adapt by doing what? They grow stronger and more resilient, forcing your body to rise to meet the challenges. (But don't forget to eat more if you do resistance training. Your muscles will build as your fat sheds, making you look curvier and more attractive, but you need more food for this to happen. Of course it should be the right food.)
  • As your health improves, take time to enjoy walking slowly in open areas, preferably parks or the countryside. Or garden.


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Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index. But ... there is no paper edition of Yang Deficiency as yet.

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Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine



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