Over last few months I have made more modifications to my training routine. They were inspired by two books. One is The Stubborn Fat Solution by Lyle McDonald. Another is One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala. Both are well researched and a fun read. At least in my terms of fun which is admittedly not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Or anyone’s for that matter.
Here are a few ideas, in no particular order, that came from these books and went into modified routines.
- In High Intensity Interval Training, we have a choice between shorter bursts of higher Intensity and longer periods of lower intensity. The trade-off here is between time and how grueling of a workout you are willing to tolerate. We are talking about difference from, say, 10-15 seconds of highest intensity (level 9-10, all-out, running for your life) and 30 seconds of level 6-7 (can barely maintain conversation, breathing hard). You can handle about 8-10 rounds of former and 30 rounds of latter, with equal rest periods. As you can see, the time difference will be significant.
- Heavy workout raising your heart rate way up mobilizes free fatty acids from the storage. In human speak this means that your body fat is ready to be burned. This process takes about 5 minutes after the intense workout, be it HIIT or resistance training to muscle failure.
- Steady cardio training at level 6 (elevated breathing rate) for 20-40 minutes burns mobilized FFAs effectively.
- We benefit from varying our workout. Being a very efficient machine, our body quickly learns to economize by deploying only necessary muscles and moving in the most efficient way – if we allow it to get used to the routine.
- One of the universal exercises that can be done in a HIIT way is burpees. It hits all major muscle groups, and 8 rounds of 15 seconds workout/15 seconds rest (close to a Tabata protocol) will leave you spent. Make sure to watch a video or two on YouTube to get the right form. Feel free to vary it if you can or have to; 10/20 ratio will make it easier, 20/10 harder.
To give you a breakdown of intensity levels and how they relate to your subjective perception, use this scale:
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale
Considering all above and incorporating these ideas into my workouts, I shaped them up the following way. I alternate between predominantly resistance training on odd weeks and mostly cardio on even ones. There are three exercise days in each week. Here is how they look.
Day 1: Lower body resistance training to muscle failure, 12-15 minutes. 5 minutes rest, followed by 30 minutes steady cardio on stationary bike.
Day 2: Upper body resistance training to muscle failure, 12-15 minutes. 5 minutes rest, followed by the same steady cardio.
Day 3: HIIT (stationary bike), Tabata protocol. 5 minutes rest, followed by… you guessed it.
Day 1: HIIT, longer periods of lower intensity, for about 20-30 minutes. I call it “taking it easy” day.
Day 2: Burpees, Tabata protocol. 5 minutes rest, 30 minutes steady cardio.
Day 3: HIIT higher intensity, 5 minutes rest followed by, you know the drill.
Leisure walks sprinkled everywhere time and weather permitting. In absence of such opportunity, light bike pedaling with a good book for 30 min will do. Don’t let my definition of a good book to influence your choice.
This regimen proved to be quite pleasant and varied enough to prevent falling into boring routine. It’s also easy to modify on the fly if necessary. I mean, if you feel that you may have overtrained your legs and 30 minutes cardio feels too much – just make it 15, or lower the intensity. World will still be here next week, with all the training equipment (a few words below on that). Overtraining is a thing. You don’t want to come to this:
Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels
Now, speaking of equipment. I am not a fan of gyms. If you are, by all means use them. I prefer body weight exercises and minimalist equipment, stationary bike being a notable exception. If you want some additional ways to add some resistance training exercise, ideal equipment taking little space yet offering decent workout options is not an easy thing to find. There are plenty of gimmicks on the market – you know, things that look so promising in TV infomercials, yet being delegated in the dusty corner in a month or two. One portable home gym I have found defies that standard path. It calls BodyBoss (addiliate link), and the gal on the image at the top of this article uses just that. It allows to imitate most of the exercises done with gym machines. Have a look, watch their videos on YouTube and see if it fits into your idea of a workout. If you decide that it’s a good fit, make sure to get an option with additional pair of bands – for most people one pair will be a tad too light of a workload. Then again, you may just add it later on. I haven’t added any of other add-ons and can’t attest to their usefulness. The set I elected looks like this:
If you decide to give it a shot, use this coupon to get a 15% discount: TTDBodyBoss
Here is main thing about all this. Have fun. Don’t turn exercise into a burden, something you dread and do only because you think you have to. Nothing will stick if perceived as necessary evil – sooner or later you will abandon it. Find your way to make it fun. Pick exercises that make you feel good. Pick something good to read while doing steady cardio on a bike. Come up with new ways to configure resistance bands on the BodyBoss, clipping them to different points and changing the length/resistance. Change the tempo of your walk (switching from light to hard and back, see the RPE scale earlier in this post) to whip up your heart rate for a minute or two. Introduce variety. Be creative.
For the first time in our life together my wife experienced interest to resistance training. She used to be as enthusiastic about it as a lion about a carrot cake. Now she reminds me to get the portable gym out for her. Believe me, if I managed to get her to enjoy it, anything is possible. Well, a lion and a carrot cake is still an unlikely union.