For most people, the most dreaded part of an exercise regimen is……cardio. That is, the exercising of the lungs and heart.
While it’s importance can’t be understated, it’s application is thoroughly despised among the fit and trying to be fit alike.
People hate it, curse it, groan when it’s time to do it. All understandably so. Unlike working out your muscles, working your lungs and heart can be a brutally intense experience, especially for those who are completely out of shape and just starting out.
The feelings of sucking wind and being completely out of breath are uncomfortable, to say the least. Not to mention doing it for a half hour to forty five minutes running on a treadmill or outside. It all comes down to pure torture for most people. It’s the one part of any new exercise program that is the hardest to keep up on, and it’s easy to understand why.
What If I told you there was a better way?
A way that is no less brutal….actually it may be a little more brutal, but it’s over just as quick as it started?
No more running in place for long stretches of time…..
Most people think so. I mean, would you rather go all out for 30 seconds, stop to catch your breath and then do it again a couple times, or would you prefer to run…..constantly….for an hour? The answer is clear to most people.
This type of training is called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, for short. As it’s name implies, you do short, but VERY intense exercise for about 6-8 sets, and your done. The whole thing with rest breaks usually takes about 20 minutes or less.
That’s something most people can get down with.
HIIT training is not only more efficient at working your lungs and heart then traditional steady state cardio, but it comes with a host of benefits that steady state just can’t compare to. The most common form of HIIT training is sprinting, although anything you do in short, intense bursts could qualify.
Burns more calories during AND after the work is done.
Boosts endurance and work capacity much quicker
Decreases body fat while increasing muscle mass
Powerful releaser of growth hormones and feel good endorphins
Creates an anabolic (muscle building) state in the body
It improves glucose control and insulin sensitivity
And, of course, IT BOOSTS TESTOSTERONE!
Compare that to traditional steady state cardio that:
Increases the stress hormone cortisol which ultimately lowers testosterone. ( Really, I should just stop here, because that’s a good enough reason to not do it)
Increases chance of injury. Most runners end up with foot, knee, hip or back problems due to constant over use.
Takes too much time
Is completely boring and results are slim
We have to think about this in the context of our development as human beings. Back when were were living in tribes, before civilization and agriculture, when we were IN the food chain, we operated in a particular way.
We walked for long distances and long amounts of time. This walking was broken up by short, quick bursts of running (sprinting) We were either sprinting after our food so that we could catch it, kill it, and eat it. Or, we were sprinting because we were going TO BE food for one of the many predators that stalked the landscape. We evolved to move in this particular way. Quick, short, fast paced bursts.
What we didn’t do was run just to run, for miles and miles and miles at a steady pace, such as say, a marathon. We needed to save our energy to survive. When we run long distances like this, our bodies don’t know whether we our running for our lives or running to say we finished that half marathon. The bodies response is the same. A huge increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, followed by a crash in testosterone levels. Long distance running is completely catabolic (muscle break down) which is the opposite of what you’re working for.
If you ever want to see a real world example of how these two things compare (sprinting and steady state running)
All you need to do is look at the people that do them regularly.
Sprinters are JACKED. That’s because the metabolic response to sprinting is favorable to our physiology….it’s what we evolved to do.
Long distance runners on the other hand, look horrible. Extremely skinny with no muscle tone what so ever.
The real world evidence is clear.
How do I sprint?
Very simple, actually.
Find a field somewhere…at a school yard, college, or any open space with grass you can find.
Make sure you bring your stop watch
You’re going to run… all out…. full blast for 30 seconds and then stop. You should be completely winded and gasping for breath….you want to go hard.
Let yourself settle down for a few minutes. Time your rest periods as this is a variable that you can either increase or decrease once you build yourself up.
Then do it again…..full blast, 30 seconds.
You’re going to do this for 6 -8 sets. Then you’re done.
That’s it! That is your cardio for the day.
You want to do this at first, twice a week. That’s all. Once you feel your work capacity increasing over the weeks and months, you can increase it to 3 times a week, but that’s completely up to you. You’re going to get huge benefits by doing this even twice a week. It’s an extremely intense exercise but the dividends it pays out are huge.
You’re going to feel great once you get the hang of it.
Most people, once they knock the rust off themselves, find this exercise completely addicting because of how it makes you feel when you’re done.
Commit to doing this twice per week, 6-8 sets at a clip, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing the health of your lungs and heart and increasing your work capacity by leaps and bounds.
Next is something that is very important for your overall flexibility and suppleness yet is overlooked by many people…..Mobility work
“A river cuts through a rock NOT because of it’s power, but because of it’s persistence.”