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How to optimize your cardio workouts

Camille Schwartz

Do you ever feel that you’re not getting the maximum result out of your workouts?  Do you visit the Scot Center on a regular basis, but still find yourself unable to lose that extra five pounds?  When you go to the gym, do you spend a lot of time running or jogging?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be wondering why your sweat-fests on the treadmill or the elliptical have not been giving you the results you want.

Many people behave under the assumption that a greater amount of time spent at the gym equals a greater amount of burnt calories. While this is true to an extent, this mindset towards working out can be problematic over long periods of time. Wayne Wescot, Ph.D, fitness research director at Quincy College in Massachusetts, explained how the body becomes more efficient the more you run, which over time can cause you to burn less calories.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up working out all together. In fact, according to Women’s Health Magazine, by increasing the intensity of your workouts you can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

I personally have found that interval workouts are the most effective types of exercise for jump starting the heart rate and revving up the metabolism.  When you increase the intensity in your workouts, “your body becomes less efficient and has to burn more calories to do the same activity,” says Wescott.

That said, here are some quick interval sets you can do on campus. Note: before attempting any of these workouts make sure to warm up appropriately by jogging and stretching lightly.

Intervals for workout machines:

1) Speed up to a difficult, but doable speed for 30 seconds. Jog or walk for 60 seconds to recover. Repeat this set four times. Over a two-month period, make it a goal to work your way up to 10 sets.

2) Increase resistance by 2 or 3 levels for 45 seconds, running at a moderate pace. In between intervals walk or jog at a moderate resistance for 60 seconds. Repeat this set six to seven times, and eventually work your way up to 10-12 sets.

Intervals for indoor or outdoor track:

1) Sprint the straight part of the track and recover on the curvy parts. Repeat this 4 times if you are outside and 8 times if you are on the indoor track.

2) Run a quarter of a mile at a fast, but sustainable pace. Recover by jogging for two minutes.  Repeat this four to eight times.

3) 30 second sprint, followed by 10 burpees, 20 jumping jacks, 30 mountain climbers and 30 sit ups. Rest for one to two minutes in between. Repeat this set four to six times.

For optimal results, try out these interval workouts once or twice a week. Remember that these workouts are not meant to be long. Work hard for 20-30 minutes, and then allow yourself to recover. Make sure to consistently switch up your interval workouts regularly in order to maximize your overall efficiency at the gym.

Camille Schwartz is a writer for the Voice and can be reached for comment at She writes a blog, which can be found at


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