Ive believed for a long time that you are going to have a short workout it had better be hard but if you are going to have a long workout it has to be easier because you’ll never be able to sustain the intensity. Even though this makes perfect sense, many fitness enthusiasts refuse to believe it. One of the most damaging things that you can do in your exercise program is overtraining. It can turn you off to exercise and can cause serious injury.
The reason you workout is to make your body stronger and healthier, right? In order to do this, you want to efficiently and effectively strengthen your body. You want to avoid overuse injuries caused by repetitive motion. Faster than you think, during your workout, you reach a point that if you exercise harder or longer you risk serious injury. According to Scott R Laker, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, “As the tissues attempt to adapt to the demands placed on them, they can incur injury unless they have appropriate time to heal. The rate of injury simply exceeds the rate of adaptation and healing in the tissue. Evidence also suggests that chemical mediators are involved in the initiation and propagation of overuse injuries.”
There are many studies that demonstrate that short hard interval workouts for maximally increase VO2max or aerobic capacity. Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo conducted a study that showed that 4 minutes of high intensity interval training improved aerobic capacity by 14% and anaerobic capacity by 28%, in just six weeks. This procedure now bears his name, The Tabata Protocol. In order to get in great aerobic condition, there is no need to do long, slow cardio. You can perform short, hard interval workouts, achieve a high level of aerobic fitness and completely avoid overuse injuries. Even marathon runners who endure long hard workouts to prepare themselves to run marathons do so to prepare them for the pounding due to repetitive motion even more so than to develop the aerobic capacity to be competitive. A little known fact is that the run half marathons to make money and to protect themselves from shin splints, stress fractures and hip pointers that plague distance runners.
An increasing number of professional athletes, elite college athletes, and even high school athletes are increasing their aerobic capacity via short intense workouts of 20 minutes or less. I use bodyweight circuits to condition my high school soccer players and no session exceeds 15 minutes and many of them are closer to 10 minutes.
Even though it’s an overused cliche, it couldn’t be more true. Work smarter, not harder. In reality, work shorter, harder, and smarter! By using short burst high intensity interval workouts you will be able to burn fat and build muscle and avoid injury. A few of these short, intense workouts per week along with a good diet and plenty of rest will quickly get you to the fitness level that you desire.
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Clint Grimes, is a retired US Navy commander. He is certified by the California Interscholastic Federation and is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the boys soccer teams at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, CA.
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