Monday, March 15, 2010

No fitness lost...

... by just doing the bare minimum.

So far, my theory and experiment have worked. For some time now, I have been doing the bare minimum as far as workouts and physical fitness is concerned. Over the past few months, I have mainly been walking the dog, anywhere from one to two hours, with a sprint workout about once every 7-10 days and maybe some real heavy unconventional weight training and/or bodyweight exercise ONCE a week. Though my bodyweight has come down (don't really know why) from 165lbs. to 154lbs., I've become stronger, faster, my energy level has gone up and I'm sleeping A LOT better. It's hard to pinpoint why these changes have occurred. I believe I've narrowed it down to a few factors.

1. Less workout frequency (i.e. days of the the week)

2. less volume (not so many exercises or time during the actual workout)

3. More walking (a natural anti-inflammatory and form of recovery)

4. Good eating (HIGH GOOD fats, lots of meat, and yes, carbs, but smart carbs, and lots of wine-> not too sure if this is really contributing :))

5. Smart exercise (when I do workout, it is fast, hard, heavy, intense, brief and RANDOM).

By random, I mean the workout is never the same. It's on a different day of the week, it may be two days in a row, it may be a week without a workout, it's RANDOM! That being said, I performed a workout yesterday similar to what I used to do 3-4 times a week for years that I finally ceased about a year ago. The workout was a Tabata protocol which is 20 seconds of work as hard as you can possibly go (NO PACING) followed by 10 seconds of rest. Set a timer and repeat for four minutes. You end up doing 8 intervals of 20 seconds of work. Yes, most people look at this and think that you cannot possibly get a good workout in only four minutes. Funny, try it.

What I do, is I do the above with one exercise, rest one minute and then move on to another exercise for the same amount of time. I do this with 8 different exercises. 8 exercises X 4 minutes per exercise with one minute of rest between exercise = 39 minutes for total time in the garage. 32 minutes are actually spent involved in work and rest and only 21 minutes and 20 seconds of ACTUAL WORK. I used to perform these types of workouts day in and day out and it is simply WAY TOO MUCH and not needed for the average person (or the elite, in my opinion). This type of workout however, performed just once a week (or as I'm about to show, once every couple of months) even with its brevity of roughly only 21 minutes will get one in far better shape than trudging along daily on the treadmill, stairmaster, stationary bicycle or their real world equivalents of "free-radical damage producing chronic cardio" for hours on end ever will. Would you rather do an hour of boring, non-results-producing cardio 4-5 days a week, or 20 minutes of brief, variant exercise once or twice every couple of weeks or months with most of your physical activity spent walking and playing? Hmmm. My workout was as follows:

The Tabata Protocol

1.Jump Rope: rotated between double-unders and fast run-in-place forward and backward rope turns.
2. 100 lb. sandbag deadlift, clean and shoulder
3. Heavybag strikes, both punches and kicks with burpees mixed in.
4. 20lb. slamball, (take a basketball filled with sand and duct-taped) and with both hands like throwing a soccer ball in from out-of-bounds, slam it to the ground, catch it and do it over and over and over.
5. Kettlebell swings. (Rotate 50lbs. and 35lbs swings both one-arm and two-arm)
6. Ground heavybag work, (kicks, punches, and elbows)
7. Sledgehammer to the tire swings (both 20lb and 8lb. hammers)
8.20lb. medicine ball throws at the heavy bag. (Throw anyway you can, overhand, one-hand, underhand, twist-throw, HARD AND FAST).

I have not done this workout or this style of workout in approximately two months. While performing this workout yesterday, I noted there was no loss of skill, speed, strength, stamina, coordination, endurance, or overall fitness. Now, I am extremely sore today from head to toe, which shows this workout completely simulates the whole body unlike just jogging a few miles but, it's not meant to be done everyday or even weekly. So far, it appears that the intermittent bouts of high intense intervals of brief, fast, heavy and infrequent training with immense amounts of walking has payed off. I will be competing (for fun) in a Mud Run this Saturday which is a 10K race with boot camp style obstacles mixed in. I am not expecting some great physical performance on my part but rather to see how far my nonchalant and random natural way of movement will take me. It's a test of myself rather than a competition or test against a clock or another person. I advise people to at least try this low volume, low frequency, high intense but brief and random bout form of training. Trust me, it is what your body is craving and you will feel unbelievably powerful and naturally fit. If however, you want to be put through the above sadistic Tabata protocol..., please, give me a call and I will gladly watch you suffer. Just be prepared to call your doctor the next day for some pain pills because you WILL be hurting. Sometimes more is not what is needed. Sometimes, less is more.

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