Super-Short Workouts Shouldn’t Be Your Only Exercise

Dearest Fellow Athletes,

In the past few days, you may have come across the wildly popular New York Times article titled, “1 Minute of All-Out Exercise May Have Benefits of 45 Minutes of Moderate Exertion.” Such a promise would understandably get busy go-getters like you all up in a tizzy, dreaming about Insta-fitness and newfound time. That is why I must say, in the kindest way possible, this article is not for you, nor is the study it’s based on.

Source: You Need More Than One Minute of Exercise a Day

I think half an hour is actually a really good session time, maybe even optimal, IF you are training both hard and smart.

Most folks look at total time in the gym, and don’t factor in the types of exercise they are performing, (bang for your buck?), and the amount of time spent resting. Generally, one can either train hard, or train long, but not really both!  I think that the real, significant variable that effects tangible results in training is amount of challenging volume performed, or, if you prefer, number of hard sets.  The more ambitious your goal, the more time that may need to be spent, certainly. But more is not always better, sometimes more is just more.  Most trainees desire a mixture of improved body composition, (more muscle, less fat), and improved strength.

A few simple general guidelines for these goals come to mind:

  • train compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, rows, cleans, etc.) with solid form,
  • train at a relatively brisk pace, heart rate recovering to about 100 bpm, between sets
  • taking sets near technical failure, a rep or two before form breaks down, and compensatory form begins

Following these parameters, half and hour of strength training is plenty of time to spur positive adaptations.

Plan Your Rest Days Like You Plan Your Workouts

We get this question all the time here at Nerd Fitness. Since we advise most people to train 3 days per week with full body strength training routines, many Rebels have a few off days each week.

Source: What Should I Do on My Off Days?

Walking is certainly easy and accessible.  I’ve made the mistake of doing yoga a couple of hours before swimming – my shoulders were horrible in ways I’d never experienced.  So trial-and-error 😉

But I did use to do yoga the day before a race, at least 24 hours between yoga and the race.  It was really good to do something, but something different and generally low impact.  Now into triathlon offseason and cyclocross season, I’m approaching things differently.  I have one more rest day, which is good because I’ve been noticing I’m really burnt out… even though I’m doing less.

How I Changed Up My Workouts to Actually Make Them Fun

Once you finally cross that threshold where exercise becomes a routine, there’s a big “what’s next?” question that pops into your brain. For many of us, simply doing the work just isn’t exciting enough. As a cyclist, I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone to keep things interesting.

Source: How I Changed Up My Workouts to Actually Make Them Fun

It’s a comprehensive read.  Finding a group or club for your hobby can pay dividends too – meet people, make friends/training partners, and you’ll find out about events.

Trick Your Brain Into Enjoying Hard Workouts With the Peak-End Rule

Nearly every runner experiences some degree of workout anxiety. Sometimes the feeling creeps up between hard workouts, disrupting sleep the night before you’re scheduled for mile repeats on the track. Other times, it strikes in the midst of a hard session, triggering thoughts during rest intervals like OMG, I can’t believe I need to do that again. The symptoms of workout anxiety—lost sleep, increased muscle tension, elevated heart-rate, negative mindset—stifle performance.

But what if you could lessen workout anxiety by ever-so-slightly tweaking how you run intervals? Enter the “peak-end rule.”

Source: Dreading That Tough Workout?

The more you do these grueling workouts, the more you get used to it. Pushing through discomfort gets easier the more you do it. It’s especially good if you do it in a group with others too.

Cycling: Improve at Climbing Without Hills

If you’re preparing for a hilly ride but live in the flatlands, then follow these tips and release your inner mountain goat…

Source: Improve at climbing without hills

This bears repeating: Curious to find out the grade?  GoogleMaps provides elevation information if you view a route as a cyclist, but I’m told this functionality isn’t supported everywhere …and it doesn’t tell you the grade.  MapMyRide however has provided this information for a long time, and will provide grade with an elevation histogram.  I think Garmin Connect provided similar details…

Some trainers allow you to tweak resistance – Tacx is one such brand.  So you can get more of a workout than just moving between the gears.

What to Do Between Your Intervals for the Best Workout

Speedy interval sessions require rest between repetitions–and especially when you’re pushing your limits, the natural instinct may be to stop and put your hands on your knees while you catch your breath. But experience teaches us a counterintuitive lesson: Gentle jogging during those precious snippets of recovery sometimes makes it easier to run fast on the next rep. That’s because jogging keeps more blood flowing through your legs, clearing away the metabolic waste products that build up during hard running and contribute to muscle fatigue.

Source: How to Recover Between Intervals

The information applies to most physical activities.  The article is on a running-centric website, but mentions the study of cyclists.  This should be applicable to swimming… I look forward to updating my training, once my rib heals.