Monday, March 7, 2011

why short intense workouts?

I think its important to always ask "why?"
Why are you doing something?
Is it still working?
Is there a way to make it better?

This is one of the reasons why I've come to love short intense workouts.

I used to be like everyone all the rest of the extremists out there.  Hours on end in the gym.  You see the benefit of an exercise(s), so you think to yourself "more of it must be really good!" Well yes, and no.  I think its important to challenge the body over a long duration every once in a while. But if you're one of those people doing relatively intense 1-2 hour workouts 5-7 days a week, and not seeing the results you want.  It's time to rethink things a little bit...

Here are a few reasons why I advocate shorter, intense workouts (for those that have want a life outside of the gym)...

- The body only knows what you train it to do. When you're just starting out exercising you'll lose tons of fat doing any type of exercise, but over time your body adapts to what you're training it to do. Make the body do what you want by "hacking" it.

- With that in mind, if you're beating yourself to death for an hour to two hours straight with exercise, you're teaching your body to "endure". Yes you fuel off of your body's energy stores (fat), however if you're doing this on a daily basis, you're also teaching your body to store fat for energy to get you through those long workouts. Spin class is good every once in a while to shock the body... Spin class several times per week... bad, unless of course your in a spin competition of some sort?

- Train your body to work in short, intense bursts, and you'll require far less time in the gym... you can use that extra time to spend with family, friends, work, etc.

- This same concept can also be applied to nutrition. Creating a caloric deficit, will help you lose some body fat/weight at first, but the body will eventually adapt, slowing down your metabolism as well as your performance. Eat frequently, keep the body burning all day long. Can't stress the importance of a high protein diet when it comes to fat loss... a calorie isn't just a calorie... but that's the topic of a different discussion.

- Extreme soreness is NOT an indication of a "great workout". It's an indication of poor recovery (e.g. nutrition, sleep) or over doing it. Remember the benefits of exercise come once the body has recovered from the damage. If you put too much stress on the body, it doesn't recover as fast which will impact your performance, create discomfort at work, and sometimes causes the body to crave those sweet and salty foods that go to all the wrong places. I know it's tough to break that "more is better" mentality... Do your best to do just enough so you can recover quicker and train more frequently.

- Variability of intensity is EXTREMELY important. Make sure you plan for easy (relatively speaking), medium, and hard days... This will keep the body adapting, guessing and recovering over months so you don't plateau. You can't play a Super Bowl every week!

There's much more that goes into it, but I'll leave you with that for now.

Hopefully this helps, and leave me a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions.

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