Thursday, December 1, 2011

Short but Intense

Off late i have been getting many requests from people who seem to be doing everything right but still can't seem to drop the weight or worse still... end up putting on weight. They eat right, meaning less calories in than out, the do exercise, but yet they can't seem to shed the unwanted pounds. In most of the cases i viewed, the problem was actually over training. Yup doing way too much exercise to the point where your body starts fighting back.

Hence today's post what i want to share is the concept called "short but intense" workouts. If you follow these simple tips, i guarantee you will start seeing results. I also noticed something similar when i was training for my marathon. even though i was running a lot, i felt like i was getting flabby and was not happy with my physique. This is more proof that i was possibly over training and my body was resisting the change.

More does not always mean better
In most cases in life, more is always better. Eg. having more money is always better than having less money. But in fitness, it is only true up to a certain level. Thereafter in becomes counter productive. Running for 20 minutes may be great, but running for 120 minutes does not make it 6 times better. Of course if you are an endurance athlete then yes that would be your goal. But for weight loss, its not the case. Sometimes doing less can get you better results. Please clear your mind of this concept. Doing more does not mean more results always.

1 hour sessions, 3 to 4 times a week
OK, now that we know too much is not good, how much is good enough? Of course this will vary from person to person, but as a general rule of thumb, i find 1 hour sessions, 3 to 4 times a week the most effective. Keep your workouts to 1 hour as far as possible. I know people who run for 40 minutes, do weights for 45 minutes and then cycle for 30 more minutes after that. That's almost 2 hours. And you do all that 7 days a week. That is way too much for your body to handle. If you are doing this, scrap it and change it to 1 hour sessions 3 to 4 times a week. Trust me, you are not going to get anywhere with your current 2 hour routine 7 days a week.

Do super Sets

Super sets are usually 2 sets of exercises that are done back to back without any rest in between the 2 sets. Ideally, you should try to do antagonistic muscles like your biceps and triceps. so learn to swap your exercises around so that you can cut short your work outs. supersets is a great way to intensify the workout while cutting down your workout time. Not to mention, it also helps to keep your heart rate up. So i highly recommend doing exercises in supersets for weight loss. It really works wonders.

Increase intensity, not volume

OK, so what exactly is intensity? Isn't running for 30 minutes more intense than 20 minutes of running? No, that would be volume. Volume is doing more reps, doing it more frequently. Intensity means, making the exercise more challenging. Instead of running for longer, how about covering more distance within the same time frame. Eg. If you can cover 3km in 20 minutes, how about trying to cover 3.5km in 20 minutes. The effort of pushing yourself harder is what counts. This is what i mean by intensifying your workout. Or how about doing more uphills to make it more challenging. Or how about wearing a weighted vest and still try to complete 3km in 20 minutes.As you can see, there are various ways increase intensity and not volume of your training. Intensity is important for results. Volume is too, but in this case, most people misunderstand and increase volume thinking they are increasing intensity.

Keep it short but intense

So keep your workouts to an hour, but during that hour ensure that you push yourself to the limit. Now pushing yourself to the limit also has its limitations. I don't mean pushing yourself till you puke. A good indicator of a good workout is, when you are done, think to yourself "now lets do it all over again right now". If you hate that idea, good job. If you feel, yeah, i don't mind coz i don't think i did enough, then that's a bad sign. Of course this is very subjective and will vary from person to person. But you know yourself best. Make sure you keep challenging yourself for each workout.

Concentrate your efforts

Also, because you are not working out like 15 times a day, you can concentrate all your efforts to push yourself to the limit on every workout. Not to mention, you will also have recovery time so your body can recover before you push it again. This has both physical and psychological benefits to you. As you know, recovery is extremely important for the body if you want to see any kind of results. By cutting down your workouts, you will give yourself more rest time. If you are doing way too many exercises too often, then chances are you are slowing down because you know you have to push yourself again tomorrow or for the next 3 hours. So your workouts are never 100% that way. By keeping it short and less frequent, its easier to push yourself all the way for each workout.

Keep on challenging yourself
After awhile, what seemed to be intense 6 months ago, may not be intense anymore. So this is where you need to increase intensity again. Remember, increase intensity, not volume. If you can keep increasing intensity, i guarantee you that you will continue to see results. So keep progressing in intensity whenever you can. Every time you push yourself to new limits and boundaries, you will see more results. That's how the body works. so work with your body and not against it.

So now you have a clear picture of how to keep your workouts short but intense. The key here is to play around with intensity and keep upping the intensity. Doing more isn't the answer always. Now with that being said, it does not mean that doing less and less is better either. Keep it to 1 hour sessions, 3 to 4 times a week. The intensity is what you will need to decide for yourself. Hope this helps all of you out there who have sweating buckets but still not seeing the results. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

8 comments:

Hamlin said...

Excellent health is based on aerobic strength, flexibility and fitness. All of these are significant. For a healthy heart, any type of aerobic exercise is good and more people should have a go at it these days. Normally, this needs movement that is continued over a period of time and that uses the power of your arms and legs. This kind of work out makes your heart work harder. Aerobics causes your body to burn fat for energy and use oxygen. Cycling is a good example of aerobic activity. That's why I ride a bike.

Hamlin said...

Excellent health is based on aerobic strength, flexibility and fitness. All of these are significant. For a healthy heart, any type of aerobic exercise is good and more people should have a go at it these days. Normally, this needs movement that is continued over a period of time and that uses the power of your arms and legs. This kind of work out makes your heart work harder. Aerobics causes your body to burn fat for energy and use oxygen. Cycling is a good example of aerobic activity. That's why I ride a bike.

daniel yusof said...

u r good reminder rajan thanks.. i now officially reach my goal. im 60kg now . (1 was 80kg last 5 months) n now i still continue with my weight loss training but nothing much change.i can maintain my weight 60kg for this 3 months.(without relying on scale anymore!!! =)) )
what i do is that running every morning 30 minutes b4 class n swimming at the evening.
i think i should increase my intensity more as u said. i wanna lose more n shape my body. any idea what workout for decreasing the 'buncit' and shaping the body? eventhough i already have ideal weight but i still have the 'buncit' tummy =(

Rajan said...

Hamlin: well said. Yes, cycling is one effective method to burn fat. But again, keeping it intense will help you burn more fat, compared to slow paced cycling that lasts 3 hours.

Daniel: Congrats on your achievement. That is awesome to hear.

For men, our primary fat storage is on our tummy area. That's why it will be the last place to lose that unwanted fat. How to lose the perut buncit? You need to keep upping the intensity of your workouts and also jaga your food. Instead of cutting down the amount of the food, try switching to healthier options that are made up of complex carbs and lean protein. You are almost there, but remember, the last few kg is always the most "degil" and hardest to lose. But if you keep at it, i am sure you can do it. Good luck and keep us posted.

PS: No before and after pic to share with us?

daniel yusof said...

owh...yes..im glad to share the picture =)

deepsharma said...

Wow, that really impressed me! I like your ideas. And the cartoon made it even better! Thanks for sharing your concept! Cheers
Byron Bay Health Retreat

KokHarng Teh said...

Hey mate , how should I keep my workout short and intense ?

I am doing 12 lbs x 12(4sets)currently which my maximum is 16 lbs x 8 .

Sit up for 30seconds around 30times x 4 set.

Push ups for 20 times x 4 set

FYI , my housing area doesn't have any park or field nearby so I walk the staircase 10 levels x 4 times.

Am I doing right or should I modify my workout. Any suggestions ? Looking forward your reply. Thank you.

Nur Syafiqah Amierah said...

What about skipping? Is it a good one?