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Interval & Cardio Exercises for Women

author image Nina Makofsky
Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.
Interval & Cardio Exercises for Women
Group of women walking on treadmills at gym. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Women who do regular cardiovascular workouts keep their hearts healthy and their bodies burning fat. Adding interval training exercises to cardiovascular workouts bumps fitness to the next level. You keep your heart rate elevated longer, which burns more calories and boosts your endurance. Intense interval exercises work your body's aerobic and anaerobic systems, which together support your exercising at a steady pace and give you the energy for short bursts of speed or activity.


Women can add interval exercises to almost any cardiovascular workout. In aerobic dance, dance class, Zumba or hip hop, music selections with a variety of beats per minute encourage speed intervals. You may do a slow number with simpler steps such as marching, or grapevines that use your full range of motion. Then switch to a faster routine with fast kicks, high jumps or deep squats and lunges. If your dance workout has a brisk but steady pace, use the breaks between songs to do 30-seconds of interval exercises such as running in place with your knees high, burpees, squat jumps or skipping rope.

Fartlek Training

Many women beginning cardiovascular regimens opt for walking, jogging or running. Make the workout more vigorous by employing your own form of fartlek training. This Swedish interval training strategy loosely consists of warming up, moving at a vigorous pace, doing a speed interval, recovering and then repeating the process. If you walk for one hour, spend every five minutes doing a 30-second speed-walk. If you jog or run, pepper your workout with sprints and recovery periods. Consider varying your route as well, so that intervals consist of running up a steep hill and recovery periods are walking downhill.

Circuit Training

Circuit training gives your an aerobic, flexibility and strengthening workout in one session. For women, combination workouts such as these are important because, as they age, they lose muscles mass and bone density, placing them at risk of developing osteoporosis. Begin an exercise circuit on a cardiovascular machines set on an interval program to keep the pace intense. Move quickly between stations so that you keep your heart rate high. A circuit might include interval training on an elliptical for up to 10 minutes, followed by doing pushups, crunches, situps, bench presses, hamstring curls, triceps dips and jumping jacks. Add more cardiovascular work by exercising on a stationary cycle, running on a treadmill or climbing a stair treadmill.

Boot Camp

Aerobic exercise and interval training come together in most boot camp workouts. Like circuit training, the goal is to keep you moving and challenged with full-body exercises. A 40-year-old woman should strive to hit a target heart rate of around 145 beats per minute by doing high-impact calisthenics such as jumping jacks, military-style pushups, climbing a rope ladder, hauling a bag of sand across a field and kickboxing. Interval moves that also get women into the range of their target heart rate include sprinting uphill, leaping over hurdles, jumping up and down from a platform, moving through an obstacle course and doing deep squats.

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