There are many different forms of workouts out there and each workout will give you slightly different results. Some will increase muscle mass, some increase strength, others help you lose weight and so forth. As a sportsman and a PT I have tried all sorts of training methods, so which ones have I found to be the most effective and why? I’m going to focus on just two in this newsletter; low intensity steady workouts and high intensity interval training (HIIT)
Cardiovascular (cardio for short) is a popular type of exercise designed to improve endurance and help fat loss. Cardio exercises can be anything from long distance running, skipping, rowing, biking or even power walking. All of these usually fall under the category of low/moderate intensity training because they tend to last anywhere from a half hour to more than an hour, going at the same steady pace. The idea is that once you start to deplete your carbohydrate stores of energy, you then start to burn fat. This is kind of true although it takes a long time to deplete the carb stores and even then, your only burning fat at a slow rate and only while you are exercising, so we are talking a lot of long runs before you start to see any significant fat loss! This form of exercise also causes our bodies to start burning muscle as well which is what gives marathon runners a very distinct look. This doesn't do us any good as the less lean muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will generally be. Another factor to consider is the amount of time, and constant pounding and pressure you are putting on your joints. This combined with reducing the muscle mass around the joints may increase your chances of chronic injuries.
Longer or lower intensity forms of training do have a place for some and cannot be discarded completely. The elderly, those suffering with heart conditions, and of course those training for a particular event may require specific considerations, or those that simply enjoy the feeling of running for a long time. Some may even find it therapeutic. I must admit that I used to enjoy running when I was pro-ing in Australia, up and down hills and along the coast. However, hours on the tread mill and running in the snow (as we are becoming accustomed to here) is not so much fun!!! And is it really helping us achieve our goals?
If your goal is to lose body fat and you don't have hours to spend or don’t enjoy a lengthy time on cardio equipment, then high intensity interval training could be the way forward. HIIT training encourages muscle strength and can leave your body in a state of calorie burning for up to 3 hours post session. The intensity raises your metabolism and helps your body regulate and control blood sugar levels by lowering insulin resistance. Due to the intensity, we are talking mainly bodyweight exercises especially to begin with. There are many types of HIIT training that can be done but I’m going to just give you one example that you can put into practise at home.
"Tabata" is the name of a particular type of workout program that provides similar health benefits to that of long cardio workouts, but Tabata has a bit more spice. Instead of hours upon hours of exercise, Tabata can be completed in 4 minutes. My big bro Chris has had his fair share of knee troubles and has found it tough to do long forms of training which he was used to but has been using tabs for the last few years now and I don’t think he would mind me saying at all that he’s in pretty good shape now and has made them a regular part of his life.
So what does a basic Tabata training design look like?
Any exercise can be incorporated into the Tabata training. However the basic outline of the Tabata training method is as follows:
• 4 minutes long (whole Tabata Session)
• 20 seconds of intense training
• 10 seconds of rest
• Total of 8 sessions or rounds
Try this killer Tab for size
20 sec Little Squat Pumps
10 sec rest
20 sec Press Ups
10 sec rest
20 sec Squat Thrusts
10 sec rest
20 sec Burpees
Repeat and your 4 mins are up!!!
Remember the idea is to go as hard as you can for the 20 seconds! This will naturally progress the fitter you become and then you can start either doing more tabs, adding weights or more complicated exercises. Make sure you have a full understanding of how to do each exercise first, the last thing you want to do is train intensely in the wrong way!! YouTube and other sources can be good for obtaining good form.
Pretty much any exercise is good for you however, if you want to get the most out of your time available then HIIT training is certainly one to try. I will come back with some more HIIT session and training ideas soon.