Bang for your Buck: 30-Minute Workouts

November 28, 2010

What’s the most popular cardio machine in the gym?  The treadmill?  Elliptical?  It’s a toss-up.  Human nature always sides with the easiest way out.

How boring is the elliptical?  Ugh.  30 minutes seems like a dreadful eternity…and quite frankly, you might as well be a hamster on a wheel.  If you’re looking to make a change in your body, you must bring your body out of it’s comfort level.  Working at a snail’s pace isn’t going to bring about the change that most people in the gym are seeking.  My advice to someone looking for that major physical change (and beat boredom) is to do exactly what most gym-goers are NOT doing:  Interval Training.

If all you have is 30 minutes to improve your cardiovascular conditioning and burn fat, interval training is the key to success.  Defined as pushing your heart rate  nearly to its limits followed by a more moderate pace several times during a workout, interval training may improve fitness better than steady state work.  In other words, running 3 hilly miles is better than 3 on a flat surface, such as a treadmill.

Take, for instance, the following record-breaker.  Prior to 1982, it was believed to be impossible for the human body to run a mile in less than four minutes.  Using interval training, Sebastian Coe broke the four minute mile (3:47.33) record!   He trained using running intervals at or above the four minute mile pace, interspersed with active recovery; then, gradually reduced the recovery interval until he had removed it completely.

Consider the following:

  • At the gym, choose anything that’s unpopular such as the stepmill, versa climber or the rower.  If it’s popular, it’s probably not good, in my opinion!
  • If you must use the elliptical, choose the ‘interval’ program and pick a few levels higher than you typically would.
  • Keep your hands and arms off of the equipment.  If you cannot perform your intervals without hanging on, it’s too intense for your fitness level.
  • Perform at least five 45-second intervals during a 30-minute workout, increasing your frequency to 10 intervals within 6 weeks.
  • Based on a 140# person, 30 minutes of walking at 4mph burns 163 calories versus interval training which burns 420 calories!!

In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease, reigning in metabolic syndrome, and many other health risks, interval training is the gold standard for fat loss and has the most bang for your buck!  Go get it!

On a cautionary note, people with conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis should consult with their physicians prior to commencing this style of high intensity training.

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