|Try some sprints!|
When you think of exercise, what comes to mind? Do you imagine long aerobic classes, or hours in the gym, or maybe marathon runs? If so, I have good news: The long-duration exercise might actually be detrimental to your health! Now, that’s what you want to hear, isn’t it? Let's face us: We parents and busy people don't have time for exercising like that. Right?! Well, that's good... really!
“…Short bursts of intense exercise… do not push the body into a 'stress' mode due to overtraining or exercising too much. Exercise is a form of stress. [Don’t we know that’s right?!] In the right measure it is a healthy stress as it engages the body into adaption to stress which leads to fitness. But too much physical stress is counterproductive as the adrenal glands (the glands that deal with energy production and survival) start to produce too much stress hormones release -- mainly cortisol which literally eats away existing muscle tissue and makes the body store fat for energy.” - Natural News article: "Long Duration or Short Burst Exercising - Deciding Which Is Best for Health and Fat Loss"
When I got into jogging in the Spring of 2010, starting out walking and adding in a little jogging (NIKE coaching for Walk to Run), I incorporated sprinting into my routine. That is when I started noticing a difference in my waistline and the scale. Soon after that, I was introduced to Surge Training. THAT is when the BIG differences started showing. Do you want to know the best thing about it? The time commitment is ridiculous! What I mean to say is: it is ridiculously and insanely small!
It sure is a lot easier to get started in an exercise routine, when you’re told to only exercise for 20 seconds at a time, isn’t it?! (Beginners can even start at 10 seconds, if they need to! How awesome is that?!) When you add it all together, at 20 seconds per burst, you’re only doing actual exercise for 3 minutes each day, which at 4 days per week totals only 12 minutes of exercise each week! Outrageous! Tremendous! Awesome! You can do that! No matter what your life looks like, you can do that!
You’re now wondering, “Is that enough to do me any good, though?“ Read on!
There were studies done to show that short bursts of exercise are just as beneficial, and actually even healthier, than long-duration exercise. You might have heard of the short-duration exercise referred to as any of the following: supra-aerobics (beyond aerobics), interval training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), tabata, PACE (Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion), surge training, or burst training.
What is Burst Training?Professor Gibala, of the health department of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, said: "We thought there would be benefits but we did not expect them to be this obvious. It shows how effective short intense exercise can be." - The Telegraph article "Six minutes of exercise a week 'is as good as six hours'"
”Burst training involves exercising at 90%-100% of your maximum effort for 30-60 seconds in order to burn your body’s stored sugar (glycogen), followed by 30-60 seconds of low impact for recovery. This causes your body to burn fat for the next 36 hours to replace your body’s vital energy (glycogen) stores. You only need to do 4-6 sets of 30-60 second bursts 3 times a week to see marked changes and improvements. More is not always better – make sure you have days of rest.”
“What this study showed is that in terms of overall health and fitness, the group that did just the two-minute workout produced the same muscle fitness results. In addition, this group also showed improved muscle enzymes which are essential for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Yet, the interesting correlation was that this group showed the same benefits of cardiovascular fitness as did the group who exercised for 10 times as long (20 minutes).” - Natural News article: "Long Duration or Short Burst Exercising - Deciding Which Is Best for Health and Fat Loss"
Maximized Living lays out a great routine for Surge Training. This "20 seconds on / 20 seconds off and rest 2 minutes (done 3 times in a row)" is what I started with and continued for my first 9 months of Surge Training, and I began seeing great results very early on. You can mix in things like sprints (one of my favorites!) and jumping jacks. You can mix it up and use different muscle groups for each set, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and shoulder presses for upper body; bicycles and shin slaps for core; split squats, lunges, squat thrusts, and jumping knee tucks for lower body. The exercises can target any fitness level, as well as accommodate any injuries.
As Dr. Ben Lerner says in his article "The Rising: Part 1" – “Surge works for any ‘body’ as you’re going all out for you – your body and body type. Since it can be done in as little as 12 minutes a week, nothing about this is intimidating.”
I like how Dr. Ryan Sousley puts it in "Is Your Treadmill Killing You?" “The beauty of surge training is that you don’t need any equipment or a degree in exercise physiology to get started. All you need is your body weight and a watch.”
“So PACE and intense burst interval training all add the benefit of more fitness in less time, as long as there is always high intensity and it lasts for 17 minutes or less. The wonderful thing about doing PACE or short intense training is that it is so exhilarating and completely takes your mind off other things at that moment of intensity. The short burst of intensity releases adrenaline and endorphins all of which create a feeling of aliveness. Now surely that's exercise worth turning up for -- something that's relatively easy to include in our regular routine, three or four times a week.” - Teya Skae in "Long Duration or Short Burst Exercising - Deciding Which Is Best for Health and Fat Loss"
I will touch more on the subject of the impact of short-duration exercise on muscles in Friday’s post. Think about it. Which would you rather be: a muscle-burning, fat-storing machine, or a fat-burning, muscle-building machine? Look at the picture comparison of a long-distance runner versus a sprinter. The science tells us which is healthier. Our daily calendars tell us which is feasible. Our ambition tells us which is attainable!
More research information about short-duration exercise:
IDEA Heatlh & Fitness Association: Short-Burst Training
MSNBC: "Get fit, faster, with short-burst training"
Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios
Dr. Jeremy Webster's Complete Health
Dustin Maher - Fit Moms for Life
How to Rebuild Your Lungs
Videos Search Results
“I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.”
Proverbs 4:11-13 (NIV)