I hear this on a regular basis from my husband, “As soon as I don’t have school and homework to worry about anymore, I’ll get back into the gym.” I have to give him credit, it’s a good excuse, but not for those of us who know better.
So many times people hear workout and think that requires an hour or more of their day – cardio, lifting, stretching, oh and don’t forget the abs. But the idea is beginning to shift as more people jump onto the interval training band wagon. According to a recent article on msnbc.com,
Short-burst interval training — often with 15-, 30- or 60-second bouts of all-out activity followed by a brief recovery period — has long been a part of the regimen for elite athletes. And now, fitness professionals say, its gaining popularity with recreational exercisers who are tired of their usual, monotonous endurance workouts and looking for ways to save time.
“Despite the low time commitment, we’re showing many of the benefits that people associate with traditional endurance exercise,” says Martin Gibala, chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who studies short-burst training.
For instance, Gibala and colleagues published a small study last year finding that people who did short-burst training for a total of 1.5 hours a week (including rest periods) achieved the same exercise-induced changes in their muscles over six weeks as people who did more traditional endurance training for upwards of 4.5 hours a week.
I can testify to the validity of these short-burst workouts. I have been working out all my life, and like to many of you I’m sure, “workout” meant 1 – 1.5 hours of my day. After my wedding last August, I finally agreed to try CrossFit, something one of my colleagues had been pushing me to try for months. After 13 months of CrossFit, I wouldn’t ever go back to an endurance workout regimen. And that’s not to say longer, endurance workouts don’t work – if that’s your thing, awesome. I’ve just found the short-burst workouts to be a better fit for my schedule. I spend on average 30 minutes in the gym, five nights a week – sometimes as little as 10, sometimes closer to 45, and I’ve maintained my weight, can lift more than I’ve ever been able to, and have toned areas I’d never even thought about.
There are plenty of short burst/high intensity plans out there like CrossFit, but they might not be for everyone. Start slow and progress as your body gets used to it. You can learn more about it at www.crossfit.com. We’d love to hear how you’ve worked fitness into your schedule, so post your ideas and questions here.
There’s no excuse anymore when you approach “the gym” this way. Even as you work to finish your degree, if it’s a priority, you can find an extra 20 minutes between the 6:00 am alarm and bedtime. Good luck!