Last week I wrote about how exercise particularly long slow cardio vascular exercise is really not that effective at removing fat from the body.However one way of increasing the fat burn potential is to increase the intensity. It also helps with sticking to an exercise regime as it doesn't take as much time so can be fitted into your daily life.
Higher intensity work helps build muscle instead of breaking it down for fuel. I used the example of the endurance athlete and the sprinter, a big difference in muscle mass. Supplement this with a full body resistance training programme and cover all bases. If you want to be a good runner then yes you need to run, just don't think it will help much in a weight loss plan particularly if you are on the carb loading cycle that precedes most training and racing.
If you are new to this concept it can be tricky to get started, that's why this week I thought I would give you a headstart with some ideas on how do up the intensity safely and effectively.
Before any kind of exercise routine a good warm up is important, Do full body movements covering all joints of the body. Roll the shoulders, open the hips and rotate the torso also increase the heart rate with a brisk walk or jog, or use a skipping rope or do some star jumps anything that you enjoy. Doing a few reps of the movements you will be doing in your routine is helpful to fully activate the working muscles.
Putting a routine together.
Three things to work out.
First select the exercise modality. This can be an individual exercise or even machine based movement like the bike to a selection of body weight or kettlebell exercises. It should be something that you are competent at doing
Then there is time, working time, rest time and total time. If you are working hard enough you shouldn't really be able to do more than 20 minutes maximum. It is also very specific to your fitness level, you might only be doing 5 minutes at first.
Finally the repetition range. A set range or is it maximum reps. Are you going to do 20 repetitions as fast as you can or are you working to a total as fast as you can.
Your high intensity can look very different to another's, it can be much slower or shorter but if you are working to your capacity then that's fine. It is hard to work to maximum capacity and it really is a mental game at first to push yourself that limit as it is uncomfortable. Having a training partner or partners can really help your motivation to get through it.
Some example routines from beginner to advanced.
Beginner- Stationary bike - 20/40 seconds interval.Set the resistance to a moderate level for you and pedal at a comfortable pace. Sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds then slow back down for a 40second recovery. Repeat this 10 times or as long as you can manage. You can progress this by changing the interval to 30/30 seconds or increase the resistance and keep the same interval time.
Beginner - Skipping and step - 1min/30 seconds interval. Set a timer for 1 min and skip as fast as you can, take a 30 second recovery then use the step and get on and off as many times as you can. Repeat as many times as you need to. Change interval and recovery to progress as you improve.
Intermediate - Alternate press ups and jumping squats. Do as many repetitions as you can of press ups for 30 seconds then immediately change for as many jumping squats for 30 seconds, Rest for 1 minute and repeat, trying to beat your target each round.
Intermediate - If you have some space sprint for a set distance then perform 10 press ups 10 squats 10 lunges as fast as you can. Walk back to the start for recovery then repeat trying to beat your time.
Advanced - Choose one exercise and complete as many repetitions as you can in 5 minutes. Repeat after a two minute recovery and try and beat your target. If using a CV machine go for distance in 5 minute then try and go further on the next rounds.
Advanced - Put a circuit of exercise 5 to 10 exercises together and set a repetition range for each. Do each exercise back to back until you have completed them all as fast as you can. Try and beat the time on the next rounds.
These are just some examples of what you can do for a high intensity session. But it really is down to you to be imaginative with your routines.Whatever you come up with work hard with it, you will feel your fitness increase along with strength and power. It is really worthwhile keeping a training diary that way you can see how far you have progressed over time.
This way of training is taxing on the body, mentally and physically. Rest and recovery days are just as important as the training days if not more important. You don't get fitter at the gym your adaptations happen during the recovery. Train like this only once or twice a week, especially if you're just starting out you don't want to hit burnout and overtraining. Eating a well rounded Primal diet will get all the nutrients you will need for recovery.
Please post me some workouts that you have come up with on www.facebook.com/primalnature.eml it will be interesting to see what you come up with and I may give them a try. Pictures or videos would be most welcome.