TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2011
So you’ve heard me refer to interval training and praise the benefits of heart pumping workouts that last only 20 or 30 minutes.
I know what your’e thinking: This girl is nuts- there is no way I can really get away with working out for less than half an hour and obtain REAL results? Firstly, yes, I am nuts. But in a good way. And secondly, it depends what you put into it.
“Team Angelina” (we’ll refer to as Cardio because she’s so lanky and thin- not muscular but clearly does hours of cardio) claims that straight cardiovascular activity for 60+ minutes at a pace where you can talk comfortably is best and “Team Jen” (we’ll refer to as HIIT-Or High Intensity Interval Training- because, although nowhere near as beautiful as Angie, she’s muscular and defined) claims that raising your heart rate for 45 seconds to 1 minute intervals and then resting in between for a complete workout in just 20 -30 minutes is most effective.
My answer when asked which methodology is best?
BOTH strategies are excellent choices. I believe in mixing it up each day. I prefer to strength train on the same day as I add bursts of plyometrics such as box jumps or Burpees ( more on those super fun moves next week) and leave cardiovascular machines or aerobic classes for alternative days .
RULE of thumb: You MUST listen to your body!
For instance, When i take spinning classes i NEVER put the tension higher than a level 6 or 7 (simulated hills) regardless of how much the instructor yells at me to. (I have been in classes in NJ where the arrogant (and fat) instructor has gotten off her bike to turn my tension up at which point i punch her in the face for touching my bike- but thats another blog on anger management)
but the reason I don’t turn the tension too high is:
- I protect my lower back and
- I get a better cardio workout when i can ride faster on a lower gear and i often get caught up in the music and push myself faster with a reduced amount of tension on the bike during the “climbing” phase so i can add in extra high intensity intervals by sprinting. Try this: Leave some of the tension off and go faster and faster- really challenge yourself and you’ll never go back to those ridiculous quick-sand hills that really do nothing but strain your back.
Yesterday I had no time to go to the gym (having missed it for past 4 days I was quite disappointed as I was looking forward to my arousing video production in spin class) so I went on the elliptical for 30 minutes – just about how much I can tolerate in a stagnant machine….I just get so bored. But 30 minutes of straight cardiovascular activity still yields results when combined with HIIT training during the week.
I’m a big fan of keeping my workouts short and efficient so that I am free to spend my day doing other things.
I love the idea of using the gym as a social atmosphere but if you ever really look around during prime time hours you will see a lot of people wasting a lot of time chatting. Now if time is not an issue for you and you really have nothing else to do the remainder of the day- well praise you!!! – than stop reading this post and return to your treadmill walk and ipod with downloads of Two and Half men (Charlie is SO winning now that Ashton ruined it) and enjoy the 3 hour workout. (she said with pure envy) But if you’re like me and take what you can get then this next week I will provide some very basic HIIT workouts that will get your juices flowing and get you in the best shape of your life!!!!
Now, repeat after me: “I am strong!!!” “ I am athletic!” “ I am powerful!” (just a little mid blog cheer to get your blood pumping)
The basic premise behind HIIT is that you work really hard for a short burst and then have an active recovery period. So for example, if you are on the treadmill- instead of running for an hour at 5 MPH while catching up on your downloaded TV shows (although that is hands down definitely a better way to watch TV ) but if you just want an effective workout and want to get even better results try this instead:
Run on treadmill for 5 minutes at 5.0 to warm up.
Then increase to 7.0 for 45 seconds.
Return back to 5.0 for 2 minutes and until heart rate returns to normal.
Then set treadmill to 8.0 for 45 seconds (is your heart racing?)
Return back to 5.0 for 2 minutes
Set treadmill to 8.5 for 30 seconds and return to 5.0 pace.
Challenge yourself and jump to a 9.0 or a 10.0 for a full minute then return back to 5.0 until your heart rate returns to normal.
Repeat this sequence for a total of 30 minutes. Work your way up to the point where your resting is 6.5 or 7.0 and your challenge is 9.0 or 10.0. Trust me this works!!!! And the BEST part is that you will be so drenched after half an hour that you will just crawl out of the gym and save the taped TV shows for bedtime.
Judge your own heart rate by how your breathing feels each time you sprint for 45 seconds. Does it feel like your heart is going to jump right out of your chest? When you recover to 5.0 do you feel your heart relaxing efficiently?
Ask yourself how long it takes for recovery once you are done with your sprint. If it takes the entire 2 minutes on 5.0 to recover and catch your breath than your sprint interval is too high initially. You need to gradually work up to intervals where recovery comes quickly- that’s how you know you’re reshaping your heart muscle.
The faster you recover- the lower your Resting heart rate (RHR) is- not the faster you sprint- is the key to fitness. Your recovery rate is essential to determining how your fitness level has improved. The key is to get your heart rate down faster- that is exercising your heart muscle. The better shape your heart muscle is in the more protection you have against cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Tomorrow we JUMP!!!! (plyometrics) so tie your sneakers tight !!!!!!!