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An Interval Workout That's Easier on Your Joints

JordanFischer / flickr

Q: I’ve heard interval training is an advanced exercise, like plyometrics performed 1000 times over. Is this true, and if so, how should I work up to intervals?

A: This is true when it comes to running. Running one mile is essentially 1500 plyometric repetitions at two to five times your bodyweight (depending on speed). So a three-mile run would include 4500 reps at very high landing forces through your knees, hips and ankles.

You can avoid those forces to ease the stress on your joints and still perform intervals. In fact, it's possible to perform intervals without doing any traditional cardio exercises whatsoever. Here’s how:


Perform each movement in the circuit below for 60 seconds, then rest 60 seconds before moving to the next exercise in the circuit. So you’ll go through all the exercises in the circuit in 12 minutes. You’ll do somewhere around 20-30 reps of each exercise in that time, so one round would be 120-180 reps, all low-impact and all spread out over the body. You can do a total of three circuits for the equivalent of a 36-minute cardio routine (or a 3-4 miler) with a fraction of the repetitions and joint stress compared to running.


  1. Bodyweight Squats
  2. Burpees
  3. Kettlebell Swings
  4. Step-ups
  5. Push-ups
  6. Sled Drags (optional)

Alwyn Cosgrove is renowned for his fat loss training programs and for being a dynamic and educational speaker. He’s the owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California and the author of The New Rules of Lifting. Learn more at AlwynCosgrove.com.

Tags: Cardio, Conditioning, Heart Rate, Plyometrics, Energy System Development