Interval training: Fun fitness 10-20-30 Method for Running and Spinning

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Looking for interval training variety? Try this special version of interval training for exercisers of all ages and fitness levels for increased motivation, cardiovascular fitness and fatburning. The method is excellent for running and indoor cycling.

The method is called 10-20-30 and is developed by Danish researchers at the Center for Team Games and Health, University of Copenhagen. It has been tested with great success and is super for interval training variety.

  • More muscle mass
  • Stronger bones
  • Lower body fat
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Better running [or cycling] performance.


The method is different from typical interval training with work and rest intervals.
It consists of three-part sets, which are repeated.

  • 30 seconds Walking [cycling] or very slow running (jogging)
  • 20 seconds Running [cycling] in a moderate or fast tempo
  • 10 seconds Fast running [sprinting]
  • Every 30-20-10 part is repeated 5 times, that is five repetitions without rest-pause, so a set (or block) lasts 5 minutes.
  • Between each set, there is a 2 minute rest-pause.
  • You can repeat the set 2-4 times: 5+2+5+2+5+2+5+2 minutes = 28 minutes in total.
    [Note: Last 2 minutes can be a pause before more training or a cooldown].

Repetitions (30-20-10) initially (or onwards): 5

Sets (blocks of 5 rep.): 2-4

Pause: 2 minutes between sets.

Duration: Approx. 28-38 min. workout, including a 10 min. warm-up.

Happy workout!

Interval training: New Super 5-10-15 Method for Kids and Adults

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Now there is a new smart method for interval training, especially for kids and their parents. A method, which can be used by exercisers of all ages and fitness levels – for getting started with interval training or for variation during (interval) running.

The method is called 5-10-15 and is developed by Danish researchers at the Center for Team Games and Health, University of Copenhagen. It has recently been tested at 60 Danish schools with great success. Professor Jens Bangsbo tells, that “the results are even better, than we had hoped for”.


In just 7 weeks with 3 workouts per week of 10 minutes (max. 20 minutes including warm-up) the children and their parents have made impressive health gains:

  • The children now have more muscle mass, stronger bones and better running performance.
  • The parents now have more muscle mass, lower body fat, better cardiovascular fitness and better running performance.

The method is different from typical interval training with work and rest intervals.
It consists of small three-part sets, which are repeated.

  • 15 seconds Walking or very slow running (jogging)
  • 10 seconds Running in a moderate or fast tempo
  • 5 seconds Fast running [sprint]
  • Every 15-10-5 part is repeated 4 times, that is four repetitions without rest-pause, so a set (or block) lasts 2 minutes.
  • Between each set, there is a 1 minute rest-pause.
  • You can repeat the set 3 times: 2 +1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 minutes = 9 minutes in total.
    [Note: Last minute can be a pause before more training or a cooldown].
    Every third workout you can add other 2 minutes (sets) of work.

Repetitions (15-10-5) initially (or onwards): 4

Sets (blocks of 4 rep.): 3 (or more)

Pause: 1 minute between sets.

Duration: Approx. 20 min. workout, including a 10 min. warm-up.

Happy workout!

Holiday Fitness Circuit Tips: I Know What I Did This Summer

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You should live in the present; not in the past or in the future. However, I do like looking at photos, a.o. holiday photos, that brings out happy memories from days of the past, e.g. of the summer holiday with my family.
Right now autumn, read rain and storm, is starting to show its moody face here in Denmark, so it is nice with some sunshine, if only online.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia photo Marina AagaardPhoto above: Summertime in the National Park Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.
Beautiful landscape. Extraordinary colours. 
A must-see for waterfall-lovers.

A little about the holiday and a lot about circuit fitness (ideas and comments):

When my sister and I were younger, our family of four did not travel or go abroad during holidays. But for the past five years each year we, now a small group of eight, have spent a week at varying holiday destinations in south-eastern Europe; there is plenty of sun, beaches (beautiful nature) and reasonable prices.


My sister, a former-competitive-bodybuilder-turned-golfer-and marathoner, has two young teens, who are very active, so a resort catering for families, with seaside access, pools and all-inclusive sports, is required for summer holidays these years.
This year it was the Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar, Croatia. The resort had two areas; for those with campers and mobile homes … and those without, a.o. us; brand new spacey holiday flats (photo above).


No holiday resort without an entertainment team. This team did some straaaange aerobics with isometric holds (photo above), but also some super aqua aerobics with jumping and dancing. Apart from lots of aerobics and dancing, there were numerous other team-led (or self-organized) land and water sports activities.

Fitness wise? The ‘fitness centre’ was a small room with a very limited array of older fitness apparatus. Just outside, however, you had the option of hiring a personal trainer and working out with suspension equpiment, kettlebells and weights.

I opted out on that and decided to go for fitness in the forrest …

The Fitness Circuit at Zaton Holiday Resort

A brilliant feature of the camp was the Trim Staza (fitness station) track in the forrest. The track was used for walking, power walking, jogging and running of campers of all ages, a really nice experience because of the medium-soft surface cushioning your every step and the shade of the trees; outdoor fitness at its best.

Fitness tip for holidays and travelling
A circuit program of approx. 20-30 min. 2-4 times a week is a great activity: You keep (get?) fit, maintain weight, stay healthy and well in minimal time.

The Zaton resort track was about 1,5-2 km (~ 1 mile) long (yes, forgot my Polar GPS!) and had 18 fitness stations evenly distributed for approximately every 100 metres (ensuring a manageable running-distance). 

Some stations were great, some were not so great, however, at every station you could do your own thing, if you wanted or needed an alternative.

Note: The stations, bright red, were easy to spot and had fairly clear illustrations. Only one had text on technique; at closer inspection it appeared, that all stations had at some stage had text, but it had come of. In most cases, though, you could figure out what to do. 

For fitness buffs, holiday fitness enthusiasts and exercisers in general here is a short rundown of the fitness stations for information, inspiration and motivation.

Outdoor Fitness Circuit Trim Staza Style

Ready, set, go (I did several times, because it was great fun):

Zaton outdoor bane

Station 1: Arm swings. A warm-up exercise. Upper-body limbering movement.

Performed with care, these are good for shoulder mobility. But avoid big ballistic arm swings. Too fast, too big … no good for people with shoulder problems.


Station 2: Bend and extend. Warm-up exercise. Whole body (lower back) preparation.

Performed slowly and with control a good exercise for the back side.
Performed too fast without control: A lumbar back killer, be careful out there.


Station 3: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

Ahhh, what is this? Something for the shoulders; o.k. in small doses for mobility, but do not go overboard in this; also it will not tone the arms and shoulders …


Station 4: Upper body circles. Warm-up exercise. For the shoulders.

My interpretation of station as not 100 % clear from sign. Sidebends continuing in a circular motion and repeating the other way. Upper body (spine) mobilization.

If you have back problems, this is not recommended. Start with controlled small range of motion movements, e.g. easy sidebends with arms at sides.

IMG_6002 Station 5: Mill turns. Warm-up exercise. For the spine and shoulders.

A well-known gymnastics warm-up exercise, but it is very hard on the back. I avoid it myself and do not recommend it.
You lean forward, while carrying the weight of the head with a long lever (spine); then you twist, turn, in this bent-over position: There is considerable torque on your spinal discs/vertebrae.

Alternative: Stand upright and turn side to side with control, easy rotation for mobility.


Station 6: Pull-up (or chin-up shown here). Great back and arm strength exercise.

Grip bar and perform with a wide grip (pull-up) or a narrow grip (chin-up). Both will work the upper back muscle latissimus dorsi and the front of arm muscles biceps brachii. The width of the grip determines how (much) you involve the active muscles.

This is a hard bodyweight exercise, almost impossible for beginners, so a modified exercise could be 1) with partner assistance; have someone help you on the up-phase or 2) jump up/pull yourself as high as possible and lower yourself down or step up on something and step off and lower yourself down.
You could also just hang there for grip strength.


Station 7: Clean and press variation. A complex strength exercise for legs, lower back (back) and arms.

A great functional exercise. Picking up something from the ground and lifting it overhead. Many muscles at work. You bend down, use the legs, and extend legs and back lifting the (odd) object. The object lifted stays close to the body.
However on the sign it is difficult to see exact starting position; it look a bit like a straight leg movement, which requires extra attention and keeping the back straight. Not an exercise for people with lower back problems.


Station 8: Jump over Slide under. Agility (and cardio) exercise.

Sign is not 100 % clear on what the exercise is. However, you can create your own fun and challenging exercises. The beam is on an incline allowing for different options.
At the lower end jumping over from side to side is possible.
Stay on the spot or travel forward with different running, hopping, crawling moves.

IMG_6049 Station 9: Suspended core work. Upper body strength, endurance and mobility.

From the sign it looks as if you are supposed to hang from the hands with feet supported and make circular movements with the hips. Tried it, it seemed strange, even though diverse movements are a good thing … 

Option: inverse (reverse) pull-ups. Upper back, front of arm strength  (incline; easier).

Hang from hands feet support. Body at a slight (harder) og steep (easier) incline. Pull yourself up by bending the arms and pulling them back. Lower with control.


Station 10: Dynamic balance on beam (tree). Balancing exercise.

No illustration at all on this station, so it is up to your imagination. Walk, jog, hop, jump on the two different-sized wooden beams; hold, stick, keep the balance.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 11: Dynamic balance on tree stumps. Balancing exercise.

Illustration is somewhat hard to decipher, so it is up to your imagination. Walk or hop, maybe with a stick/hold, from stump to stump. Keep the balance.
For variety include moves to and from the ground.

Alternative: Step-up (buttock and leg exercise). Stay by one high stump: Step up and down with same leg (e.g. 8-16 times). Change leg and repeat.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 12: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward.
If it feels too hard, you can just sidestep over the beam.
For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

IMG_6150Station 13: Upper body exercise (of your choice).

Station illustration looks like the exercise muscle-up (first pull-up, then straight into the press position shown), however, this is not possible, as the beam is far too thick.
You have to find your own variation. Here (after a clumsy climb) I just do shoulder depression; hold the position with shoulders neutral/lowered.
Note: Station 13 was an ‘unlucky’ station; it was starting to disintegrate.


Station 14: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

A repeat of station 3. Circles with the arms (shoulders) again? This looks like a warm-up or mobility exercise (best performed at moderate pace). No real training effect or relevanse in circuit training like this.
I would perhaps do some circular push-ups instead.

If performing these shoulder circles, circle first one way, then the other way.


Station 15: Push-ups (upper-body strength (endurance) exercise. Super exercise.

Here incline push-up, which is easier, than the regular push-up. Hands on beam, bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

Variation: Decline push-up with more shoulder focus. Feet on beam. Hands on ground. Bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

IMG_6175Station 16: Squat jump (deep), forward and backward. Lower body power.

Illustration shows jump (arms pull back and forth for take-off, land with arms in front).
Variation: Instead of jumping forward and backward, you can just step backward and start again. Or do regular squat jumps up and down on the spot.


Station 17: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

A repeat of station 12? Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward. For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 18: Pendulum swing. Aerobic exercise.

This station is cardiovascular training. Similar to when you run or walk from station to station. So is it necessary? Well, as running is a sagittal (forward/backward) plane movement, while this a frontal plane movement, it can be fine for variety.


Even if I was not too keen on all the stations in this circuit, I think that outdoor circuit fitness in general – and also this particular set-up – is brilliant.

Circuit fitness is great for variety every once in a while.
Have a go, too.

Express Fitness # 1: Interval Training For Travel or Home

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay fit and healthy without wasting time. Even if you are travelling, on holiday or have a busy life with little time for exercising, you need to take care of your health, the foundation of fitness, wellness and performance. The good news is, that you can have great results with minimal time investment. The number one option is:

  • Interval training (yes, it’s for you, no, it’s not just for athletes)

Interval running for travel fitness or home fitness

Interval running on the Zaton Holiday Resort, Croatia, (soft) running track. Nice .

Interval training
As the saying goes: With interval training you will double your results in half the time!
Or something to that effect …
The definition: A series of repetitions of a work period (higher intensity) followed by a rest period (low intensity).

The (active) rest periods are crucial to succes; you need to recover in order to put just as much energy into the next work period: So no push-ups etc. during rest periods, that is not interval training. 

More and more recent research points to interval training for just 3-4 minutes per time/week as enough for becoming healthy and fit and even loose weight.
In reality, though, this is too little, as you need 1) a warm-up and cool-down and 2) to train at higher intensities, than most will be able to, to get the mentioned results.

Interval training is, however, the number one way to get fit fast for everybody. Interval training is not just very high intensity training. It is interval work at intensities higher than during continuus exercise. This means, that exercising just a little harder than you normally do will work!
Of course, if you are in shape, you should work at high intensity to get even better results.

There are numerous ways to do interval training and it can be tailor-made to meet specific needs. You can have short intervals or long intervals or fartlek, various speeds and intensities. All intervals, though, will improve your cardiovascular fitness and body composition.

If you are new to interval training try these super-easy sample programs:

  • 5 repetitions: 1 : 1 min., e.g. jog for 1 minute, walk for 1 min.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.
  • 10 repetitions: 30 : 30 sec., e.g. jog for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.


  • From lamppost/tree to lamppost/tree: Run/jog/powerwalk as fast as you can.
    Then walk, focus on breathing, to the next lamppost/tree. Repeat 5-20 times.

Try it. What do you think?

Fitness and Wellness: Return to Sculpture by the Sea

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

It is brilliant. A fusion of nature, art, architecture and fitness and wellness.
I have been. I have been again. And I am going again.
see, hear, touch, feel and taste Sculpture by the Sea.
Aarhus University has already offered running seminars to this open air exhibition. I have done my own walks. Now I will go for a run in the sand and on the stairs into the forest to experience more. Go artychitecturitness.


sea bro

Bathing Jetty. Extra lively. Good for balance training.
Vandmodul A1 og B2 Fase 1.  Artist: Jesper Dalgaard.

sea neonStairs. Great for walking running variation. With unexpected sightseeing.
Bubbles. Artists: Markus Hanakam, Roswitha Schuller.


sea sandkort ma snus

What is wellness? Sensations for all of your senses: A massive grain of sand soap.
Brilliant: Artist put grain of sand in microscope. Enlarged, modeled in clay, cast in soap. During exhibition, wear and tear will reshape and dissolve the grain continuously, as if it were a grain of sand. Grain of soap. Artist: Espen Grandt-Moeller.

sea te husIf wellness is a coup of tea, this is wellness. From the bed of herbs on the ground, you can make yourself a cup of tea. Water, kettle and cups are ready. Sit down and enjoy.

Become part of the work and the landscape.
Tea with a view # 2. Artist: Anja Franke.

My body jogs.
My mind wanders.
Mindbody fitness wellness moves.

Want a Better and Faster Run? Don’t Run Like You’ve Always Done!

Løbetræning for bedre løbetid

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Do you run and run without progressing? Then read on for some great tips for smarter running in answer to this typical question: 
“I have now been running for three years 4-5 miles twice every week. But still I do not see any improvement?”
“Do you want to improve or maintain your current form? To maintain a certain level of fitness with one type of program (with little change) is an o.k. goal. If you want to progress, however, you must apply some changes to your program.”

Running is super for cardiovascular fitness, but if your runs are the same every time, your body gets used to it and stops improving because of lack of variety, which stimulates improvement.

If you want to progress, you must change your running and push your body (a bit):

If you have time and energy, add an extra run a week – mostly you need three times a week for greater improvement. Or run a longer run or a more intense run, of same or shorter duration, on one of your running days.

The most time efficient and effective method is to increase intensity, e.g. run faster or run up hills or steps (if available) on your usual route.

You can run with regular intensity changes, systematic interval training, or let your mood or the landscape guide you, so-called fartlek (swedish for ‘speed play’).
You can vary your interval runs with different speeds and interval durations.
After a period with interval running, systematic or fartlek, you will feel the improvement and observe, that your running time gets better.

Systematic interval  run
After the first 10-15 minutes of running you can play with short sprints, high-speed running, for 10-60 sec., followed by easy jogging for twice as long, e.g. 30 sec. : 60 sec.
A sprint and a jog, a ‘work interval’ and a ‘recovery interval’ is a repetition. Repeat this e.g. 8-12 times.

After the first 10-15 minutes of running, race from one lamppost to the next and then jog to the next. Or, whenever you see a hill or some stairs take a quick run up and down, and then jog until the heart rate drops and you feel ready for a new ‘detour’.
Choose different (new) routes for even more variation.

Strength training
Note, that stronger muscles also improve your running markedly. Just a couple of times of fitness strength training per week, e.g. 2 x ½ hour, 6-8 exercises for the major muscles of the hips and legs, lower back and abs and upper body, will increase your strength and energy level. You will feel a difference in your running after just 1½-2 months of strength training.

Running for You? 10 Tips: Run This Way!

Does running have to be very hard to be any good? No!
Do you really have to be completely out of breath? No!
Do your legs and back have to take a pounding? No!

Løb og Jogging Metoder og Motivation

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Whether you are about to embark on your first run, or are a recreational runner, or you are an experienced runner, here are 10 top tips for optimizing your run … 

1. Run healthy. Are you healthy and well, then ‘run along’ … Are you physically inactive or in poor health, then you need not stay away from running. On the contrary; exercise in many cases are better than medicine, so get going – with an easy walking or jogging program … after you have seen your doctor for a health screening.
You should not run, if you feel pain! If you have injuries, they may become aggravated by running, so have a check-up and get a proper individual running program. Ask a physiotherapist.

2. Run with internal motivation
: Joy. Make running a natural healthy habit. Habit changes take time, so make things easy: Put your running in your diary and have your running shoes ready.

Increase your running motivation
 – run with:

– Mindfulness: Be present in the now, do not think about the past or the future. Meditate.
– Senses: Watch and listen intensely, smell nature, feel the wind against your cheek.
– Focus on your breathing; breathe deeply and slowly through the nose.
– Focus on your technique, run at a moderate pace and brush up your technique.
– A partner, without talking, chatting, playing og competing for fun.
– A heart rate monitor, so you can keep an eye on your heart rate, distance, calories, etc.
– An mp3-player with music with a fairly fast motivating beat.

3. Run in clothes fit for running
. You can run in whatever clothes you like! However, your running experience is improved by:

Comfortable running clothes, close-fitting and sweat-transporting (avoid cotton).
In cold and windy weather keep warm (running underwear and windbreaker jacket); if your stomach gets cold, you may experience abdominal pain and cramps.

Good running shoes
, must fit your feet. Get professional advice. Poor shoes are the cause of many injuries in the feet, lower legs and knees.
Note: Shoes can prevent some injuries, however, some shoes can also indirectly cause injuries, because of too high (lifted) heels and large drops from heel to the ball of the foot.
Alternatively run in level shoes, do barefoot running or run in FiveFingers, which protect the feet. Barefoot running requires a very gradual progression of distance and intensity.

4. Run at your own pace. If you are a beginner or overweight – or an experienced runner, who has been away from running – then a slow cautious start is crucial to avoid injuries.
If you are a fit and experienced runner, then race away (longer strides and faster)!

5. Make running doable. A good start makes all the difference: Start at your own level, and run with energy and enjoyment. Start slowly the first time (and over time): First walk, then jog, then run, then interval runs at moderate, high and intensities.
Initially start running on softer surfaces, earth or grass (not too soft, sand and gravel, and irregular, which is ‘tough’), as this is easier on the joints than concrete and asphalt.

6. Have a realistic running plan. It may take years to build a healthy distance running shape in the right way, so running is still 1) fun and 2) safe (without injuries).
Be patient and consistent. 

– Start by running short distances, max. three days a week (with a day of rest in between).
– Gradually increase the running distance (and then the intensity).
– If needed, increase the number of days (alternate between shorter and longer runs).

7. Warm up before running.
This is not difficult, it only means that your should:

Start gradually; 5-10 min. of walking or jogging with gradually increasing tempo, hold back a little. An adequate warm-up is essential to running success:
One of the main reasons why many runners find running so hard, is that they start running too fast too soon – the body isn’t prepared (not enough oxygen) – and so they are out of breath (lack energy) for the duration of the run.

After running do the opposite: Cool down. Reduce the tempo and walk for 5-10 min. to lower the heart rate to resting level. Avoid stopping too abruptly and standing still (right after top speed), as you may feel dizzy.
Stretch the large muscle groups, hip flexors, hamstrings and calves as needed.

8. Run naturally:

  • Run in a natural way: Start by walking, then ’fall’ slightly forward, so you ‘automatically’ start running. In this way you will land with your body weight distributed evenly across the foot (midfoot strike) instead of landing hard on the heel.
  • Run with a good posture, upright, neutral spine, relaxed neck and shoulders.
  • Run with a full body lean, straight line from heel to neck, do not bend forward.
  • Land with a midfoot strikeOr experiment with running on the balls of your feet. Do not land with a (heavy) heel strike, as this may cause poorer form and injuries.
  • Run with a natural stride length for you; do experiment with longer strides and (and shorter ones, when running on your toes).
  • Breathe deeply, inhale through your nose, exhale through the mouth (or nose).
  • Run light-footed; run with a light, springy step, almost as if you fly across the ground, or as if you ‘burn’ your feet, when you take a step.
  • Run with tempo; do not run too slowly, so you land too heavily (more impact).
  • Run with a natural arm swing forward-backward, not diagonally in front of the body.
  • Run straight ahead, avoid bouncing up and down, this is a waste of energy.

9. Eat and drink right. Eat and drink the right things at the right time – this gives you more energy and reduces the risk of abdominal cramps.

Water (at room-temperature – too cold water may upset the stomach):

Before running: Drink an adequate amount of water each day:
Divide you body weight (in pounds) by two; the number of ounces of water you need to drink each day (corresponds to approx. eight 8-ounce glasses of water (8-by-8-rule).
Metric: Drink approx. 1/3 of your body weight (kg) in deciliters (0,033 x BW (kg) in liters).

During running
: During shorter runs up to 6,2 miles (10 km), water intake is not necessary.
During longer runs water (with sugar/salt) may be needed, but test it before competitions.
Dehydration may result in an impaired performance, however, some runners perform better, when they do not drink water during the run.

After running
: You may lose up to 67,6 fluid ounces (2 liters) of water during running, so drink plenty of water after running.

Food (do not run on a full stomach – it may cause stomach cramps or diarrhea):

Before running
: Eat healthy in general, so you have enough energy. For competitive running your need to plan your diet and pre-race meal carefully.
Eat a full meal no later than three (2-4) hours before running. It is better with a low-fat, carbohydrate rich (limited amount of dietary fibres) meal without too many proteins.
If you need more energy, eat a banana or have an energy drink (water with sugar/salt) no later than one hour before running.

During running:
 It is not necessary/smart to eat during shorter runs (< 6,2 miles/10 km). For longer runs a sports gel (energy-jelly) may be a good choice, but not always; it depends on the distance and person.

After running:
 Eat a meal (carbohydrates/protein) within ½-1 hours after running. Within ½ hour of exercising/running nutrient uptake is optimal (window of opportunity) leading to a faster recovery.

10. Listen to your body. Running should feel good. You must not experience pain, not before, during or after your run. Exertion, sweating and panting is okay, but pain in your muscles and joints is a danger sign, which you must respond to. Walk instead. Afterwards find out what caused the problem. Get help from your doctor or a physiotherapist.