While the evidence from the research continues to accumulate regarding the benefits of short intense exercise there are some people who go the other way with their fitness efforts. A quick step into any fitness facility these days will show more and more people lining up to get on the rows of treadmills, elliptical trainers and bikes. Don't get me wrong there are benefits to cardiovascular exercise. I'm just not a big proponent of long, slow, stead-state cardio workouts. I can summarize these in one word...boring.
Why do I care so much about short, intense workouts? Here are my top 6 reasons.
1. Time - The most obvious benefit of short, intense workouts is that they don't take as long. This is one precious commodity that you should value as much as anything. So anywhere in your life where you can make a change from your routine that frees up time for you and your family would seem like a great idea. And your workout is a great place to start.
2. Better ROI - I like using financial terms to make a point. MG always laughs at my analogies but hey they work and people remember them.
Whenever you put up some of your time or money in something you are making an investment. Sometimes there is no expectation of a return, such as a donation to a charity, and other times you care deeply what kind of a return you get. Imagine the second scenario and you are investing a large chunk of your life savings into some investments. You are going to be particularly concerned with how well this investment performs and what kind a return you will see. And we all want to see a growth and return on our investment.
We should take a similar view of our efforts in the gym. If you are investing time, money and sweat to achieve your goals, you want to know your efforts paid off. You don't want to fail or feel that there was minimal positive change after a lengthy effort.
With short intense, workouts the return on your investment is better than slow, low intensity exercise. You make better gains in terms of your fitness and physiological health.
3. Interest - Ever notice what the 'play of the day' always has in common on the sports show? I mean besides when the kissing bandit plants one on a pitcher or a streaker runs across the field. They are all explosive plays. Big hits, home runs, slam dunks, one-timers...the plays that are deemed the best of the day are the powerful ones. Not only is it more fun to watch intense, explosive plays it is more fun to do them as well.
4. Performance - We already saw that the best play of the day is an example of intense activity. Well practicing for your sport in the same way gives you an advantage over your competitor. It's not necessarily the player who is the best jumper but the one who gets off the ground the quickest. Or maybe it's not the player who can go forever but the one who can win every ball. Short, intense exercise sets the foundation for being able to dominate in your sport.
5. Ease of practice - It's much easier to perform a short, intense workout. Jumps can be done just about anywhere. Med ball tosses can be performed against a wall. Olympic lifts need only a bar or a dumbbell. Slow, steady-state workouts need either a machine or a lot of space.
6. Longevity - As we age we lose the ability to generate force quickly. This lack of force production is sometimes attributed to the falls we see in the elderly. Performing short, intense workouts helps us train this capacity that we tend to lose naturally with age. As the saying goes 'if you don't use it, you lose it'.
While short, intense exercise is highly beneficial and fairly simple it is not easy. You definitely need to be in shape before you attempt to train explosively. And the physical discomfort that accompanies some of these workouts can be quite high. But when properly planned and coached they can result it all the benefits listed above.
Now go be brief and quick!
'always moving forward'