Interval training, redefined

New research outlines a running routine proven to shave minutes off your race time and cut training in half.


By Lee Walker Helland for

It is a truth universally acknowledged (or at least among the exercise elite) that interval training maximizes your exercise minutes. We know it delivers an elevated calorie burn, increases your overall fitness level, and, according to some studies, may improve athletic performance.

But since the proliferation of Tabata intervals (popularized by Dr. Izumi Tabata’s research that outlined a 4-minute routine: 20 seconds of maximal effort followed by a 10-second recovery, repeated 8 times), science hadn’t delved into the nitty gritty of the actual interval protocol—until now.

We’d like to introduce you to 10-20-30. In a recent study from the University of Copenhagen, runners who were coached on the new training concept (developed by the school’s department of Exercise and Sport Sciences) for seven weeks improved their 5k times by a full minute and cut their training by 50 percent. They also saw significant decreases in blood pressure and cholesterol and improvements in emotional stress.

10-20-30 structures training sessions with short bursts of exertion. Following a 5-minute warm-up (subjects in the Copenhagen study jogged one kilometer), you do five sets of intervals in one-minute blocks. Here’s how it works…

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