Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Only 15 minutes!...or the missing Intensity Factor (part 2)

Now you know that you need to “stress” your body, and then let it heal and rebuild to make it stronger. On Part 1 we covered that concept. But you might be thinking: “How can 15 minutes be enough? Can I really just train for such a short period of time?”

The quick answer is YES!

I am sure many of you have attended fitness courses or gyms where they train you for at least 45 minutes up to 1 hour. They have probably told you that less time than that is useless.

Well, it is not true.

Most probably, they train people that way because it is a convenient way to organize courses or gym hours. The focus is on how to use the gym space in the best way, not really on how to provide effective training to clients. In some other cases, unfortunately, it is because they do not know any better and “that is the way everybody does it”.

But I am sure you do not want to follow the masses blindly. You want to get results without wasting time. So let’s see why only 15 minutes can work for you.

Fitness improvement is not related only to training time.
What really matters is the total amount of “stress” (stimulus) you apply to your body. Not the total amount of time you spend in your workout. Actually, the duration (training time) is just one of three variables that you can play with in order to stimulate (stress) your body.

Let’s go into a bit more detail.
The three variables or factors you can use to design your training program are:
1. Duration Factor: the total amount of training dedicated per workout (i.e. 45 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, etc)
2. Frequency Factor: the number of times a workout or set of workouts is repeated within a cycle (i.e. once a day, twice a week, twice a day, etc)
3. Intensity Factor: how hard you go (i.e easy, moderate, uncomfortable, difficult, all-out effort)

If you combine these three factors you get the total volume of stress or stimulus that you apply on your body.

Yes! It is time for another formula!

Volume of Stress (training stimulus) = Duration x Frequency x Intensity

Notice that I am not adding these. These variables are multipliers. In other words, once you increase only one of these factors, the resulting volume of stress gets increased much more.

Was that too much math?

Let me try again.
By mixing these three factors properly, you can generate the needed stress for your body. If you increase one of them greatly, while keeping the other two low, you get a sufficient training stimulus.

See where I am getting at?

If you have no time to train (duration), just increase the intensity (how hard you go) and you will still obtain a solid stimulus to improve your fitness levels. Actually, you can also increase the frequency, as it is much easier to insert a little bit of training in your agenda everyday (or almost everyday) than to find large amounts of free time three days a week.

But there is more good news.

Recent studies (high-intensity training) have demonstrated that training with great intensity for short periods of time produce the fastest results in terms of fat burning and cardiovascular conditioning.

So train hard! Focus!
Make every second count!
And you will get results.

You'll get very noticeable results. Rapidly!
You will see your fat melting incredibly fast (start saving some money to renew your clothes...you'll need much smaller sizes). Not only that. Your whole cardiovascular system will also become fitter. You will be able to play sports, hike in the outdoors, and dance for much longer. Live more!

Cool, huh?

Training with intensity is so powerful because the effects of the training last much longer than your actual workout time. It happens because the oxygen deficit you create in your body during the workout needs to be compensated after you have finished training.

You know the feeling.  
Hard breathing and accelerated heartbeats when you use the stairs instead of the elevator. Even after you have stopped. Even after a long time (specially if you are not in decent shape!).

This is your body working (hard) to compensate and adapt. As a result, your body keeps burning fat while you are working, driving, cooking, watching TV, or surfing the net.

And yes, you end up burning more calories even when you are sleeping!
A miracle!

These incredible results are due to what is technically called EPOC or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” which is a great way to improve your metabolism, burn fat, and make you fitter (more on this in future posts). And high intensity training has been proven to increase EPOC much more than normal, easy-going aerobic conditioning.

So change your paradigm.
You do not need one hour or more of easy training to become Superfit!
Use this new concept to your advantage.

Train for 15 minutes.
(no more excuses to be sedentary!)
But make each second really count.
Go for it! Gasp for air!
Test your limits!

I think you’ll learn to love the feeling.
And I am sure you’ll love the results!

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