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Is 30 minutes really enough?

Posted August 27, 2014 in Advice Column, Waukee

Many folks have been led to believe that “real” exercise means spending hours in the gym each day or burning lots of time doing cardio. This is true only if you’re a professional athlete or a competitive body builder. For these people, a typical workout is two hours a day (or more), six-plus days per week. They’re lifting heavy weights, focusing on just one or two body parts each day, or putting miles and miles of roadwork in each day.

Some people try this approach when they are in their teens or 20s, and it works for them. They have the bodies to handle that workload and, more importantly, they have the time to dedicate to it. But for everyone else — people with busy work schedules and family priorities every day — working out like a professional athlete makes no sense. It’s simply unrealistic and too inefficient, given the demands on your time.

A more effective and efficient form of exercise is “circuit-based” strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Rather than working one muscle at a time and resting between sets, circuit-based strength training aims to work multiple muscle groups on every exercise and it eliminates the “resting phase” by having you work opposing muscle groups during that time.  Countless research studies have demonstrated that this type of training even provides aerobic benefits to exercisers that traditional strength training regimens do not. That means more calories burned during each workout.  The result is you get the full benefits of a traditional 60 or 90 minute workout in just 30 minutes.

Like strength training, getting better results from cardio exercise means breaking old habits. Pounding away on a treadmill or an elliptical machine for an hour or more is not only boring and inefficient; it can also cause serious repetitive stress injuries. By contrast, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been well-documented in numerous research studies to be a more efficient method for burning calories and increasing aerobic capacity, while reducing the risk of repetitive stress injury. By manipulating the proper balance of workout intensity and recovery in short durations you get the same calorie burn of steady-state cardio; 15 minutes of HIIT is like 30 minutes or more of traditional cardio.

A workout has to adapt to your lifestyle, otherwise you’ll stop doing it, or run the risk of burnout, boredom and injury. The truth is, many people’s “regular” workouts may actually be holding them back from achieving their fitness goals, despite all their best intentions.

Information provided by Tina Howell, certified FitCoach/owner, Koko FitClub.

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