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Maybe you’ve noticed, but the latest trend is short, intense workouts. This goes against what we’ve believed for so long – that your level of fitness is dependent on hours and hours (and HOURS) in the gym. Shows like The Biggest Loser press participants to exercise for upwards of 7 hours a day. Coaches scream at players to train harder, longer, and sometimes twice a day. But those are extreme examples, and those people have unique goals. What about those of us who want to get in better shape but don’t know how we’ll fit it into our already jammed schedules? Well, there’s good news from the research department.
Repeated studies are showing that fitness is intensity dependent, not time dependent. That means the more intensity you put into your workout, the shorter amount of time you have to do it. This means that you can do a treadmill for a long time, or you can exercise at near-maximum intensity for a short amount of time. And by short amount of time they mean anywhere from 4-20 minutes. No way, right?
But if you tried last week’s Quickie, you already know it’s true.
It’s all about the intensity, but the intervals are important, too – alternating periods of near-maximum intensity exercise with periods of rest. Like in my Quickies.
How do you know what near-maximum intensity is? We can get all scientific, or we can keep it simple. And since I pride myself on being easy, let’s KISS. (Wait, what?)
What kind of article is this, anyway?
Oh stop. I meant Keep It Simple, Silly.
Let’s talk about Rate of Perceived Exertion. It’s a scale of 1-10, with 1 being just sitting there reading this and 10 being all-out, maximum intensity. You’ll want to warm up at a 2 or 3, and then it’s go time.
Rather than hanging out at a 5-7 on the scale for 45 minutes to an hour (as we often do), near-maximum intensity means pushing yourself to an 8 or 9 on the scale, then recovering with a short rest period. During the rest, though, don’t sit down. Walk around, and catch your breath, and get mentally prepared for the next ass-kicking exercise.
How do you know you’re working at a high intensity? Because you’re uncomfortable. You’re not sure you can go on. You’re grateful the intervals are short because you can’t keep this up much longer. 50 seconds never felt so long.
Because the intervals in my Quickies are timed, you’re able to work at your near-maximum, whatever that means to you. For you, it might mean 14 repetitions of an exercise during the 50 seconds; for another, it might be only 9 reps. Be your own kind of fit. Find your own near-maximum intensity.
And, near-maximum intensity for you today is not what it will be in a few weeks when you’re stronger and more conditioned. That’s why I recommend you track your progress, and revisit former Quickies to see just how far you’ve come!
So, keep your long treadmill workouts if you want. Whatever floats your boat is good by me. But if you’re anything like me, quick and dirty is the way to go.
C’mon. Let’s have a Quickie.
For this week’s workout you’re going to need a mat, a set of light weights, and a set of heavy weights. You’re also gonna need an attitude.