What Your Training Plan is Missing...
Copyright Max Wettstein, 2006
…Intensity! This is most likely why you’re getting the same results, or getting no results. So many of us just plop on the stationary bike, elliptical trainer, or treadmill and simply plod along in our comfort zone, (sometimes called the ‘fat-burning zone’ to make ourselves feel better), barely even breaking a sweat or raising our heart rate. Yes, we’ll chug along, reading a magazine, watching TV, or even talk to a buddy, all the while feeling good about ourselves because we’re at least doing something for our fitness. But because we're only reaching light to moderate intensity levels, we’re lucky if we even burn 300 calories in an hour, or cause ourselves to go into oxygen debt even once. Burning your fat stores? Yeah right! Think again: You may have been working out at 60% of your maximum heart rate, but you’ll be lucky to even touch any fat stores/adipose tissue in an hour’s time at such a low heart rate.
You know, in today’s politically correct, everybody’s-a-winner, easy-button, society, there is still some truth to the old adage, “No Pain, No Gain.” While there will always be a place for ‘LSD’ endurance training, (long-slow-distance), we all need to incorporate some intense and even anaerobic training into our exercise plan. Get out of your comfort zone. Move your cheese. Unfortunately intense training usually goes hand in hand with some level of physical discomfort – not injury pain, but you know what I’m talking about – the “I’m actually working here” kind of pain!
Intense aerobic training usually means you’re training at a heart rate level close to your VO2 maximum, (maximum oxygen carrying capacity), and above your lactic acid threshold. In simple terms, this means your working close to entering oxygen debt and building up lactic acid. Intense anaerobic training usually means your muscles are hitting physical failure in 30 seconds or less, meaning you can’t do another repetition, due to lactic acid build-up and/or your muscle cell ATP stores deplete. When the latter occurs, your ATP will replenish within a minute or so of rest, and any lactic acid, if produced, will completely recycle within 30 minutes or less.
So why train with such intensity? Couldn’t you possibly pull a muscle or have an aneurism or something else bad? Perhaps, so warm-up, cool-down, and stretch! Here are a few reasons why, with proper warm-up and your physician’s blessing, you should train intensely at least one day per week:
There’s enough reasons to validate my point, but if you’re not feeling compelled to step up your training drive yet then e-mail me and I’ll give you 10 more reasons, including stop your whining! I can’t emphasize the mental and psychological aspect of training with intensity enough. When you give something your mental and physical all, you really can experience a mental and dare I say, spiritual awakening. The hormones and neurotransmitters that become triggered in the brain and body including but not limited to dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, testosterone, and pain-eliminating endorphins, can really combine to empower you to feel confident, strong, happy, motivated, and alive in general. An intense workout may be just what you needed to get you out of your rut, or salvage your day, or open your mind up to let an idea in.
Physiologically speaking, if all you do is slow, aerobic type of exercising, then you are really ignoring 50% of your fitness. An ideal training program incorporates aerobic/endurance training, strength/anaerobic training, and core/flexibility training, equally. Perhaps you think you don’t know how to strength train. Of course you do! Just do some sprints, or run a steep hill or stairs, or do some push-ups or pull-ups. Go mountain-biking on an actual off-road trail. Play a game of touch-football and don’t be all-time quarterback. Go snow-skiing this season. Be a kid again. Again, with intensity comes greater risk of injury, making it imperative that you do a proper warm-up first, and start slowly with light weight, and always proper technique.
You can read more on intense training, if you go back to my ‘Health and Fitness Tips’ archive and read my ‘training with a heart rate monitor’ and ‘finding your flow’ articles. Lastly, be sure to read my ‘coping with the holidays’, and ‘holiday eating strategy’ articles as we head into Christmas. In a nutshell, indulge in your favorite foods, but then get back on the sanity wagon the next day.
Here's an example video to motivate you!...
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