Can’t Find Time to Exercise? Try this:

Okay, okay – personal opinion, but I actually think that about 90% of health is what you put into your body (food) and 10% is what you put your body through (exercise). All that said, exercise is important, we know it but we struggle getting it done. Not enough energy, not enough time; the task seems overwhelming. Well there is good news for you. Maria Cheng’s AP article “Interval training can cut exercise hours sharply” reaffirms what we all should already know.

Interval training includes times of intense exercise mixed with rest. The general idea is to put your body in an intensely physically stressful situation and at least two things will happen. First, your muscles are shocked in a way that general exercise does not work them so they develop better and quicker. Second, your metabolism and heart rate stay higher longer after the workout continuing to burn those unwanted calories.

Interval training, which she points out was “originally developed for Olympic athletes and thought to be too strenuous for normal people.” Normal, I’m guessing, meaning out of shape. But recent studies have shown that this belief that only an elite athlete can handle it as being false. Cheng references that studies that include older people and people with health problems can handle interval training.

Jan Helgerud, an authority on this topic, was quoted saying, “High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise This is like a new pill that works twice as well.” Just think – you can work smarter and faster, saving time and being healthier for it.

Cheng’s article sites running, biking, rowing and swimming. Cheng’s article rightly gets token quotes that both support and disavow interval training.

What is worth grasping from Cheng’s article and the concept of interval training is the idea of intense workout. For most people, I think that the biggest issue with exercise really is not time, but is enjoyment. We don’t like to exercise. I am an avid believer in finding something you enjoy because I think two things will happen from this: 1. You will stay with it longer if it is something that refreshes you not only when you are done, but also during your workout. 2. The key to physical fitness (outside of diet) is intensity. Simply, most of us get winded doing our workout because we don’t push it.

Truth is that it is hard to take your intensity to the gym day in and day out – unless you love it. So, while Cheng’s article highlights the typical interval workout the truth is you have a lot of options that really work. You can box, do martial arts, rock climb, gymnastics, plyometrics, dance, etc.

Since this is my blog, let me tell you my favorite approach to fitness. This approach includes intensity with the result of unimaginable results in your physical fitness. Personal testimony here, so yes, no overstatement that the results are unimaginable. I’m talking about Crossfit. Crossfit’s philosophy is about truly being fit – no just looking fit. Or to put it another way, don’t do Crossfit if you are just trying “to look good.” You would have to toss out your vanity to try any number of exercises. To make my point, Crossfit does a competition every year called The Crossfit Games, where the winners (male/female) are given the title “World’s Fittest Men and Women on Earth.” No, I don’t think it is an exaggeration. Consider:

Saturday
Event 1: 7km Hill Run
Event 2: Deadlift one rep every 30 sec moving from 315lbs to 505lbs in 10lb increments (women went from 185lbs to 375lbs)
Event 3: 170m Hill Sprint with two 35lb sandbags (women used a single sandbag)
Event 4: Row 500m, pound a 4′ stake into the ground, Row 500m (women used a 3′ stake)
Event 5: Couplet, which was 3 Rounds for time of 30 Wallball / 30 75lb Squat Snatch (women used 14lb medicine ball and a 45lb barbell)

Sunday
Event 6: Max load Barbell Snatch
Event 7: Triplet, which was max rounds in 8min of 4 Handstand Pushups / 8 32kg KB Swings / 12 GHD Situps (women used a 24kg KB)
Event 8: Chipper, which was 15 barbells cleans (155/100lbs), 30 toes to bar, 30 box jumps (24/20″), 15/10 muscle-ups, 30 push presses (40/25lbs), 30 double-unders, 15 thrusters (135/95lbs), 30 pull-ups, 30 burpees, 300′ overhead walking lunges (45/25lb plate)

Crossfit combines Olympic lifting, power lifting, plyometrics, and gymnastics for strength and conditioning. It is intense from start to finish with an average workout time of 20 minutes. Some workouts are as short as 6 minutes, other as much as 30 minutes. But when you actually master the different workout and techniques only your 10k should take longer.

The nice thing is that every day’s workout is posted online for free. Just take a look. You don’t know what is coming so you can’t get bored, you will be challenged, your muscles will keep guessing and you’ll be healthier for it.

Final note: Please seek professional advice on lifting techniques before trying these exercises. Most areas have Crossfit gyms you can join if you want. The advantage of joining a gym is accountability and technique. Crossfit is more interested in your technique than your weight.

Now that you have extra time due to more productive workouts you can visit my blog more often!

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3 Comments to “Can’t Find Time to Exercise? Try this:”

  1. I have a two hour commute to work, from my home in Barre MA to Chelsea Ma. To pass the time and improve my grip strength I started to do interval training with a cheap hand gripper. I want to get up to a 100 squeezes. I am using an old anaerobic interval formula that I learned years ago. Basically, I find my base, which was 40 squeezes, set a new goal, 50, double that, 100, and break it into 2 or 3 equal sets. If i do it in two sets I allow more rest time in between, 2 min, for 3 sets I allow 1 minute rest. After a week of doing the sets I rest a day or two and them establish a new base. My new base is now 90. This is after about three weeks to a month. I should hit the 100 in a couple of weeks.

    I just purchased a book about getting to 100 pushups in 7 weeks. Of course it is based on interval training.
    I may start that soon.

    Very good article, thanks IZ.

    • D Mac

      Let me know how your wrist strength and push-ups improve. Your wrist strength improvement already is exactly the point. Now, if you could start doing that running too! In less than a month 100 miles! 😉 When I started crossfit my biggest weakness was pull-ups and I had weak wrists. Now Pull-ups are one of my biggest strengths. I have done over 150 pull-ups and 150 dips in less than 20 minutes. Also the Olympic lifts use a lot of wrist strength (which I never realized). The ultimate test of fitness for crossfitters is what is called a muscle-up, which is a pull-up turned into a dip on rings. You have to use a false grip in order to do it. While I can’t do a muscle-up yet, I can do false grip pull-ups, which means using my wrists instead of my hands to do the pull-up. Too bad you can’t do those on your commute.

  2. Wow, you sound like you’re getting very fit there Iz – good stuff! Those pull up and dip numbers are very impressive. Wrist strength is very important in just about every kind of athletic event and Martial Arts too. It’s often overlooked though. I found something surprising, maybe you did too. Just working on wrist strength seems to have a lot of transfer to my arms, shoulders and back. I probably am flexing them isometrically when I’m into the burn stages of the squeezes. Who knows.

    If I were smarter I would be working on the core more. Old habits die hard though.

    I’m afraid running is out of the question for me as I have ruined my low back with too many years of Judo, being slammed into mats at terrific speeds and often with the thrower landing on me (Makikomi style) and working in factories and lifting heavy loads the wrong way. What I can do is walk, and I need to do more of that, or intervals of shadow boxing and hitting the bag. I was on a good program last year and was up to six to seven 2 minute rounds and then I developed some heart and lung issues – not because of the exercise. I am trying the comeback now that things are more under control.

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