Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This one's for John G. - Part I

So after I sent out an e-mail to all my friends and family the other day letting them know this blog was up and running, I got a call from my good friend John. The voice-mail he left me went something like this:

Hey Pete, John here. I was wondering if you could put a program together for me that I could do during the 1/2 hour that I have around the dinner table every night with my wife and kids?

I think John's point was something like this: "Man, I'd really love to work out, but, Holy Cats, I just don't have the time for it." (Yes, John really says "Holy Cats" all the time.) I can understand John's point. He's a very busy guy between work, 3 children under the age of 7 and 1 on the way, researching a new business and managing a few properties he owns. So my first thought was to suggest that he saw the legs off his dinner table. That way while the rest of the family ate dinner, he could participate in the conversation, while lying underneath the table and using his arms and legs to press it. A full body workout, while the family eats! Exactly what he asked for. Who says I don't deliver what the people want???

My second thought was much better. Here it is: In 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese researcher showed that greater respiratory/cardiovascular benefit could be achieved from a 4 minute high intensity interval workout than from a traditional "steady state" 60 minute cardio workout. Basically, he compared 2 groups of athletes. The first group trained in the traditional manner, that is, long and slow. The second group trained for 3-4 minutes. During that 3-4 minutes, they completed 6-8 all out sprints, 20 seconds in duration, with 10 seconds of rest in between each sprint. The group that preformed the long and slow workout increased their aerobic capacity by 10% over a 6 week period and their anaerobic capacity (sprint power) not at all. The interval group increased their aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by a statistically gargantuan 28%.

The Lesson

Work volume is not the key to improving our fitness. INTENSITY is the name of the game. And trust me 4 minutes will be plenty if you really go all out. When I do these on my rower, at the end, I unstrap my feet and roll of the rower onto the floor in exhaustion. If you're up for a challenge, give them a try. I do recommend a 10 minute warm-up first. You can do them on any piece of cardio equipment like a bike, rower or treadmill, or you can do burpees or kettlebell swings.

In Part II, we'll look at how we can apply this method to resistance training.

P.S. John, you can post your results (that is what %age of your breakfast actually landed in the receptacle upon completion of your 1st set of Tabata intervals) to the comment section at the bottom of the page.

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