Are you in a fitness slump? Maybe you’re looking to start a workout routine, and you want to assure you’ll get the most out of your workouts. The best way to blast fat and break out of any weight-loss plateau is through the use of interval training.

Interval training consists of workouts that alternate high-intensity cardio bouts with lower-intensity recovery segments. It’s the direct opposite of steady-state exercise – workouts that consist of walking, jogging, or cycling at the same speed or intensity for long periods of time. These type of workouts can still show results, and they are necessary when trying to increase your aerobic capabilities and increase your endurance. However, the amount of time required is much more than interval training.

Interval training is more beneficial than simply from a time-saving standpoint. High-intensity exercise burns more calories than long steady-state sessions. The brief sessions are an added bonus.

So how can you interval train? The key is to get creative. You can follow routines, but listening to your body will tell you a lot.

Always begin with a 3-5 minute warmup. Keep the intensity low, and gradually build up as you get closer to starting your upcoming interval training session.

Start with 1 minute intervals. This type of exercise is intense, and it will take some getting used to. Work hard at a moderate to strong intensity for a minute, followed by a minute of lower intensity exercise. Rest when necessary, and then continue. Begin with 5-10 reps of intervals.

Cool-down. Always make time for a cool-down. It should mimic the warmup. Your muscles are warm and fatigued, so this is always a great time to stretch.

Progress to longer intervals. As your body adjusts and you begin to get in awesome shape, start adding time to your intervals. You may work hard for 2-3 minutes, and then rest for 1 minute or work at a low-intensity for a minute.

Mix it up. Interval training is mainly reserved for cardio training. You can do intervals on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical. For this reason, choose one machine one day, and move to the next the next day. You could also mix and match on the same day. Your muscles will never know what hit them. Try increasing the speed every 2 minutes until you reach your halfway point. From here, back it down a notch every 2 minutes. If you’re on a treadmill you can add an incline each time you bump up the speed. With ellipticals and bikes increase the resistance. 

A secret ab-shredding tip. Instead of doing 20 crunches, resting, and doing 20 more, try incorporatinginterval training into your ab workouts. Pick 3 exercises that you can work with for 20 seconds each. After 1 minute, rest for 30 seconds to a minute and dive right back into the routine. You will get many more reps in, and see results much faster.

However you use interval training, use it. Say goodbye to fat and get the most out of your workouts each and every time you train.