The Benefits of Sprint Interval Training

Are You Still Doing Cardio?

Author: Kai Fusser, MS

Sprint Interval TrainingLast month I told you about functional fitness training and why I think it is superior to workouts on the machines that fill most gyms and sports clubs. This month my topic is sprint interval training, and why it beats the traditional cardiovascular or aerobic exercises.

Walk into any gym and the first thing you see is people straddling treadmills, ellipticals or bikes for 45 minutes or more trying to burn calories and improving their aerobic fitness.

It is not an easy task for me to explain in a short fitness tip why we should stay away from the typical low to moderate-intensity continuous training (“CARDIO”) and instead do sprint interval training (SIT, or burst training), but here are the key points.

The Problem With Cardio Exercise

 

Slow cardio:

  • is very time intensive (the number one reason people skip their workouts)
  • only works on your aerobic fitness (and that fairly inefficient)
  • burns some calories during the activity but has no impact on your overall metabolism
  • stresses your joints due to repetitive impact (especially if you are running for your cardio)
  • increases inflammation

 

The Benefits of Sprint Interval Training

 

Now here is a solution for you. SIT (sprint interval training) training:

  • will only take about 4-8 minutes 3 days a week
  • works your aerobic and anaerobic system at the same time
  • will raise your metabolism for several hours after you have completed the exercise
  • is very effective for fat loss
  • will build “fast muscles”
  • reduces impact on your joints and helps reduce inflammation

Sprint training can burn the same calories as slow cardio in 1/15th of the time! In addition, slow cardio exercise produces a lot of stress hormones (cortisol) while sprint training stimulates growth hormone (have you ever compared the physique of a sprinter to a marathon runner? It’s your choice).

It is the intensity, not duration that effects the adaptation to exercise.

 

Making Sprint Interval Training Work For You

 

There are different ways to implement SIT training:

It can be done on equipment like a:

  • treadmill (using a steep incline rather than high speed)
  • stationary bike
  • upper body ergo meter
  • or a X-iser

Or it can be done with no equipment at all, like

  •  sprinting (athletes only)
  • running up a flight of stairs
  • running up a hill
  • or with full body calisthenics like a Turkish Getup.

I recommend that you start with 4 min workouts (add 2-3 min of warm up before) with a sprint to rest ratio of 1-3, say 10 sec sprint with 30 sec rest (slow pace). As you feel more comfortable you should work your way down to a ratio of 1-1 like 20 sec sprint with 20 sec rest. The maximum total time you would want to do is 8 min. (more is not better in this case).

Please remember that the sprints should be “high intensity” which is of course relative to your fitness level. The intensity will be different for a fully trained athlete than for a de-conditioned couch hugger.

 

The Bottom Line:

 

Sprint interval training (SIT) is a quick and efficient way to burn calories and get the cardiovascular exercise your body needs.

You will be surprised how quickly your:

  • body will adapt to the new and positive exercise stress
  •  energy level will increase
  • performance will improve,
  • metabolism will pick up

You will save time and wear on your joints. Most of all, it can be fun !

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Staying Fit On The Road

How Can You Work Exercise Into Your Travel Schedule?

Author: Kai Fusser, MS

Stretch Band Yoga Work OutMany of my clients ask me “How can I stay fit while I’m on the road?” If you are traveling for work or leisure, traveling and working out can be a challenge, finding a gym, time, convenience and more gets in the way. For my athletes exercise is a must and getting it done is part of their job even though they have the same challenges. But also for us non-athletes, we want to stay fit even during travel, it also makes us feel better and can help with jet lag and combat the effects of “travel” food.

Travel Exercise Tips;

Now we should realize that we don’t need a gym to get a good workout in, a hotel room or some outdoor space can be sufficient. We also don’t necessarily need any equipment although bringing along a jump rope and a rubber band can add to the variety of on the road exercises.

So here are some ideas for simple ways to exercise, feel free to be inventive, our body can move in many ways and we need to take advantage of that.

  1. The power of walking: walking is one of the most natural and healthiest movements for us, it uses our whole body, stimulates the circulatory and nervous system, massages our organs and is relaxing. Take a 30-60 min. walk in a park, neighborhood or city, if done in the evening it will help you sleep better as well.
  1. Use your own body: here we can take advantage of our own body weight and gravity, there are countless exercises that can be done in a tight space, try to do 3 sets of 8-15 reps for each exercise, alternating between different exercises will save time. Here are some good ones: pushups with different arm widths, lunges in all different directions, squats, crunches with different leg positions, dips on a chair, regular and side planks, wood chop up, shot put etc.
  1. Use bands: attach it to the door or stand on it, curls, overhead extensions, pushing and pulling, straight rotations, shoulder rotations, pull downs, wood chops
  1. Cardio: here I recommend the burst training as it is the most efficient in time and effect, 4-6 minutes alternating between slow and sprint pace at 20 sec. slow and 10-20 sec. sprint ratio. This can be done by running in place with use of arms, rope jumping, hotel stairways, shadow boxing (no worries you are alone in the room).
  1. The ultimate way: if you really want a challenge and get things done quick do 3-5 sets of either Turkish get ups or pushups to jump (also called burpees) at high speed.
  1. In the hotel gym: hotel gyms are often “compromise gyms” but most have a treadmill (turn the motor off and push the belt while holding on) or a bike where the burst training can be done which I recommend over the long slow cardio for its effectiveness and its much easier to convince yourself of doing a short 4-6 min. workout verses a 45-60 min. long haul.

It is best to keep the workout short in time but high in intensity according to your fitness level.

Also remember your nutrition during travel, I know it is very challenging as we get out of our routine, but making the right choices (why not stopping at the super market for some healthy snacks before checking in) and eating in moderation will go a long ways towards still feeling good when you get back home.

Remember to keep it simple and fun so traveling doesn’t have to be a threat to your health.

For some great exercise tips and ideas for different exercises please visit my website; www.kaifitnessforgolf.com

The Bottom Line:

1)     Don’t neglect your health just because you’re on the road.

2)     Even if the hotels where you are staying don’t have fancy workout facilities, you have plenty of options. Just choose the ones that fit you best.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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