Functional Training Zones

The 3 Best Interval Training Applications Ever

BJ Gaddour

By BJ Gaddour, CSCS, YFS2

My name is BJ Gaddour and I am the Co-Creator and Fitness Director for Workout Muse, a fitness music and media production company. We specialize in custom interval workout music that tells you exactly what to do during your interval workouts so you don't have to look at your clock or stopwatch.

I recently received the honor of my fitness career in being invited to join the Perform Better Tour regarding my expertise for fitness bootcamp program design and marketing systems. As you can probably imagine, I haven't been able to contain my excitement and I wanted to do something to immediately thank the Perform Better team for their trust in me. So I emailed Chris Poirier and asked him if I could put together a special article on interval training for PB to show my gratitude and he graciously accepted my offer.

Let me first start by briefly explaining the concept of interval training in it's most basic format and why you need to be doing it each and every week if you are not already doing so.

High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT) is scientifically proven to burn nine times more ugly, unwanted body fat than ordinary exercise (think typical long, slow, and boring cardio workouts that most people resort to when trying to lose weight and get into better shape). In addition, the research shows that HIIT also leads to greater gains in fitness than aerobic training by being able to simultataneous improve both anaerobic and aerobic conditioning. In other words, interval workouts provide the biggest bang for your buck.

Basically you alternate between periods of maximum effort and periods of active recovery (e.g. 30 seconds of work and 90 seconds of active recovery) instead of going at the same easy to moderate pace for the entire duration of your workout. Interval workouts are typically only 10-20 minutes in length and can be easily completed in the comfort of your own home or on the road when you're traveling using bodyweight-based exercises or portable equipment like resistance bands, the TRX suspension training system, kettlebells, etc.

Though intervals are traditionally used solely for cardio workouts like running, cycling, etc., a whole new world of interval workout applications has emerged in the last several years including metabolic resistance training circuits, pre/post-workout routines, speed and agility training, tabata protocols, and more. The purpose of this article is to show that when it comes to interval training, there's a lot more than meets the eye!

Without further adieu, let's examine my 3 favorite interval training applications that go far beyond traditional straight-line running cardio intervals:

Interval Application #1- Bootcamp Style Workouts

Over the last 3 years I have personally supervised and programmed for several thousand hours of bootcamp workouts and countless hours all over the world via our interval workout music for bootcamp-style workouts powered by Workout Muse. In fact, my eureka moment for creating Workout Muse came from problems I was having in my own Get Sexy Bootcamps in Milwaukee, WI back in December of 2007.

Repetition-based parameters simply do not work well in a large group setting with a wide range of fitness levels. Everyone will perform 20 reps of a exercise in a different amount of time adding too many variables to effectively ensure a smooth, turnkey bootcamp workout. If you want your workouts to run like clockwork, then you need to put them on the clock. Timed sets allow for everyone to work at their own pace and the best the part is the workout starts and stops at the same time, every time for everyone. Now that is a true group training system. Whether you run corporate or community bootcamps you need to be able to get people in and out in a timely fashion so they can get on with their busy lives.

As I just mentioned, if you're trying to run a professional program that starts and ends at the same time every time, interval training is the way to go for bootcamp-style workouts. But interval training is a bit of a catch 22. Sure the program will run like a well-oiled machine, but you'll have to be constantly looking at the clock and be the human stopwatch announcing "go... halfway… stop…etc"

If you're looking at this… HOW can you be looking at your clients??

That's why we created the world's first interval workout music. Thousands of trainers all over the world are now better coaches today because our interval training music tells their clients exactly what to do so they can focus on what they do best: coach, motivate, and supervise. You no longer have to be a prisoner to your stopwatch, so just make your life (and the life of your staff) easier… and don't! I personally guarantee you better client results and reduced rates of injuries.

My bootcamps are famous for 30-minute express workouts for busy professionals. We get people in and out with a 5-minute warm-up and a 20-minute total body circuit training workout 3 times per week with incredible body and life-changing results. A staple of our training system is a 5-exercise circuit consisting of a lower body hip-dominant movement, an upper body pushing movement, a lower body knee-dominant movement, an upper body pulling and/or scapulothracic movement, and a pillar movement (integrated shoulders, hips and core with an emphasis on stabilization).

We typically alternate between 2 different interval templates for this 5-exercise circuit: 50-10's and 30-30's. Let's examine how these 2 interval protocols differ:

50-10 Five-Exercise Circuit

30-30 Five-Exercise Circuit


- Fat loss, endurance, and conditioning emphasis


- Moderate-Intensity Exercise Selection: Lighter loads and less advanced exercise variations


- Goal of 15-20+ reps/set


- Better suited for exercises requiring minimal set-up and transition time (e.g. bodyweight-based exercises)


- Better suited for stability/balance exercises and combination movements requiring more time-under-tension


- Strength, power, and hypertrophy emphasis


- High-Intensity Exercise Selection: Heavier loads and more advanced exercise variations


- Goal of 6-15 reps/set


- Better suited for exercises requiring more elaborate set-up and transition time (e.g. TRX and Kettlebell exercises)


- Better suited for elasticity/plyometric exercises requiring less time-under-tension

To better illustrate this point, let's take a look at each type of interval protocol in action, both using our classic 5-exercise format:

1.) 50-10's at a special lunch workout I put together for some 2009 PB Summit attendees in Chicago:

2.) 30-30's at Kettlebell and Band Workout at the 2009 Bootcamp Bootcamp in Kentucky:

The great thing about these interval protocols is that they truly compliment one another. In other words, the better you get at 30-30's the better you will get at 50-10's and visa versa. In addition, there is a built-in periodization by alternating between 50-10's (muscular endurance emphasis) and 30-30's (strength/power emphasis). This revolutionary group exercise format is guaranteed to get your campers amazing results without ever hitting a dreaded training plateau. Lastly, if you combine this 5-exercise circuit format with systematically providing customize exercise selection for all fitness levels AND switching up the exercise selection every 3-4 weeks, the last thing your workouts will ever be accused of being is boring!

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