Monday, November 29, 2010

No Time to Exercise? No Excuses! Choose Intensity

This time of year, the daylight hours are short, schedules get crazy, holidays intervene with parties, visitors, and special events. Who has time to exercise? Sometimes I might only get twenty to thirty minutes here or there in a busy day. It's very easy to just throw in the towel for the day. After all, what's the point of just getting a fifteen minute workout?

Actually, there is a point. You can craft a workout that takes less than fifteen minutes that will give you the equivalent of a longer distance slog if you use intensity. Here's four easy (nah, I won't call them easy, in fact you'll feel like puking) high-intensity workouts that take less than twenty minutes:

1. Hill Repeats: Can be done running or on a bike. Pick your favorite local hill (or, if you live in Florida, a highway overpass). Warm up for at least 5 - 7 minutes. Run or bike as hard as you can uphill for three minutes. Turn and head back downhill. The downhill part will take less time, but too bad. Repeat 3 - 5 times for a killer workout that will help your strength and stamina on a hilly course.

2. Tabatas: The beauty of the Tabata Protocol is that you can do it with any exercise. I've done it with the rowing machine, done it running, done it with squats, pullups, pushups, or other bodyweight exercises. The main part of the exercise only lasts four minutes, but those four minutes hurt. Like really hurt. Don't do this if you're not already in excellent shape, because you should be flat-out going as hard as you can. Don't pop an artery trying this if you're not already in good cardiovascular health.

The Tabata protocol is simply put:

  • 5 minutes of warm-up
  • 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • 2 minutes cool-down
If you have extra time, spend it on the warmup, it's best to approach the Tabatas completely warmed up. By the end of four minutes, you should be completely spent.

3. The fat-burner 30:90. I got this workout from Dr. Mercola in this excellent article It's worth taking the time to read it all, because it explains how this workout pumps up your human growth hormone (HGH) levels, and how to keep them higher after the workout is over.

This workout consists of a few minutes of warm up, then eight intervals of 30 seconds ALL OUT (yes, that's ALL OUT in ALL CAPS because that's how this one rolls), with each followed by 90 seconds of rest. This one is a doozy, and like the tabata you can use it running, on a bike trainer, on a rowing machine, or in any number of variations (burpees would be good!)

4. The Ladder: This is a good limited-time technique, and I use ladders frequently while running or swimming. Simply put, you do intervals of intensity that get longer, then shorter. Here's one example of a ladder:

Warmup: 5 minutes
Ladder: 1 minute HI (High Intensity), 1 minute recover
2 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
3 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
4 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
3 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
2 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
1 minutes HI, 1 minute recover
Cool Down

You can make the ladder as long or as short as you want, and you can vary the intensity from very short intense bursts to longer near-threshold levels.


Caratunk Girl said...

LOVE it! Always looking for ways to beat up that excuse demon!! You just gave 4 great time savers that are totally beneficial! Good one.

Marv said...

Good stuff, Robin. Makes me remember-and at my age that in itself is a win-that I have come into the seasons in pretty fair condition doing something of the nature you describe. My experience was with bike training videos. It used variations of many of these things what you talked about. And, the 20seconds all out, I have used on the run..not nearly as easy as it might sound. And, I think this kind of training build you mental for the hanging on that is sometimes required in longer events and training regimens.