For people trying to lose weight, the studies now prove that getting onto an elliptical, treadmill, stationary bicycle, etc. for an hour just doesn’t cut it!! A recent study out of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise did an analysis of High Intensity Intermittent Training versus moderate training. The results of the study were surprising. People who do High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT) work outs such as functional fitness, P90x, and tabata, as well as others, are losing more weight than the people tying themselves to the elliptical, treadmill, or stair master!
How many times have you found yourself thoughtlessly walking on the treadmill, or, my “favorite,” the elliptical? These exercises are “cardio” machines, and most of the time people will go for a certain length of time and stop. The key to utilizing this type of equipment is to always train with a purpose. Every day we see a new journal article touting the new evidence that HIIT is the most effective way to go.
A simple way to work with a purpose is to hop on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bicycle and do a tabata style work out. These workouts are excellent for maximization of time and benefits, (with rounds lasting a total or 4 minutes) while at the same time not requiring much equipment.
A “Tabata” is 8 rounds, with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. For each of the 8 rounds, a specific exercise is chosen to be completed, then you may rest for 10 seconds before continuing with the next round. The key point to remember here is that maximum effort is expected during these intervals. At first glance this seems like a relatively easy rep scheme, but I find that even the most in shape people have difficulty doing this. That’s the beauty of it though – it does not take too long, can be done anywhere and at any level of fitness for great results!
My favorite at home Tabata consists of push-ups, body weight squats, lunges, sit-ups, burpees.. you can complete this with any of your favorite bodyweight or kettlebell exercises. Select 3 to 4 exercises, and do the 8-round scheme with each. With a minute of rest in between exercises, it should not take you longer than 20 minutes!
Try it out! Let me know how you do! A fun goal is to count the reps you get each round, and try to beat it on the next round. This way, you have a way to gauge your intensity and have a goal in mind!
These exercises and eating Healthy by consuming REAL FOODS is the best way to change your life!
I love hearing that my lifestyle involves the “most dangerous workout” there is! When catching back up with friends from home in Florida we do the usual back in forth of:
“How are you doing?”
“I’m doing great, and you?”
“I’m doing well as well…”
But the next question that I often get is, “What have you been doing to stay in shape?” I tell them I have been doing Crossfit pretty religiously for the past year and a half. Having a background in Olympic lifting (thanks to a father who pushed me to be the best athlete I could be, by starting “oly” lifting during high school) gave me a little bit of a leg up, and being a former division 2 college baseball player I found myself craving the competitive atmosphere a Crossfit Gym delivers.
After I stop babbling about Crossfit, I tend to get the question, “Being a doctor aren’t you worried about getting injured? Crossfit is so dangerous!”
Crossfit has been shown in one study that, Crossfit-Based High-Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition. Currently there are no Peer Reviewed Journal Articles that can definitively state that Crossfit leads to more injuries than other conventional strength training. This is something that could use studying in the future. I’ve thought about this for some time now and here are my recommendations on this:
Crossfit is just as dangerous as someone following their own training program in the gym. The key to staying injury free is finding a gym that really takes pride in coaching perfect form and techinique.
- A good Crossfit coach is going to sacrifice a new personal record (which feels amazing to accomplish) for doing the exercises with correct form.
- A good Crossfit coach is going to work with you when your technique on your squat is just a little bit off (ie: curving your back when driving out of the hole).
- A good Crossfit coach is going to put you through a good warm-up and several mobility exercises to ensure that your muscles aren’t cold and susceptible to sprains and strains.
This is what people should look for when joining a Crossfit gym – coaches and a community that cares. They should find a gym that has beginner classes/elements courses that walk you through all the movements that Crossfit will involve. Every movement in Crossfit can be modified to someone’s capabilities. For instance, if pull-ups are something that you just can’t do, then a good gym and coach will modify the exercise. Generally, they will give you a band to use in order to strengthen the muscles that are weak (I personally think a pull up is a goal that everyone should set to accomplish. You never know when you may be required to pull yourself to safety…)
A coach that you do not want is the one that will encourage you to push through a repetition with improper form. A coach who pays more attention to his phone during the workout, than your curled back as you do a deadlift. A coach who would rather be elsewhere when teaching the class. A coach who just tells you to limber up on your own. These gyms and coaches are few and far between, but as the saying goes “One bad apple gives the whole bunch a bad name!” and I believe this is why Crossfit gets a bad name from time to time.
I believe that if you find the Crossfit gym and/or coach that are right for you, you’ll find that there is a smaller chance of injury than potentially doing workouts incorrectly on your own. The added bonus of finding a good community and friends is also very beneficial to ones overall health!
REMEMBER, Crossfit is what YOU make of it, don’t let other athletes in the gym dictate YOUR fitness goals!
Ok, I have to admit, for the past few weeks I have been on vacation and… over these past few weeks I have become enamored with FIFA World Cup Futbol!! Specifically, I was excited by the performance of team USA – especially their goalkeeper Tim Howard!! He put on the best performance in the World Cup by a goalkeeper, with 16 saves, since FIFA began to keep track!! Since his top-notch performance he became a focus of US news media, covering everything from his tattoos to his recent change in food consumption. What intrigues me is how he made a decision a year ago to convert himself to a PALEO lifestyle and how this lifestyle modification not only made him a better athlete, but also changed his life! I too believe in a PALEO lifestyle and I have adopted it as my own, the exception of mine is that I follow “my own personal Paleo Code”.
Like Tim, I firmly believe that we as individuals need to make a decision on what exactly we want in life from our bodies. He is a lot more blunt about it (“Do you prefer sweets and crappy food, or do you prefer to have a nice body?”),but I believe we both agree that we as a nation need to take responsibility for our health and wellness. Once we have made the decision to take responsibility for our health, then and only then can we start to make lasting changes in our lives!
So when I was asked numerous times while catching up with old friends, “Ron, you have always been in excellent shape, but what have you changed since you left?” I was flattered, as this comment totally caught me off guard. After a little introspection, I realized I had really began to focus on the food I was putting into my body.
This answer would spawn an instant conversation about exactly what foods I was eating and what else I had done. I believe that we as humans are all similar to Formula One Race cars. I would ask most of my friends, “What do formula one race cars run on?” They would tell me racing fuel (100 octane). I would then follow up this question with another: “What if I put regular unleaded (87 octane) into a formula racer?” We know that the race car would still run on the less expensive fuel, but would start to have various issues and/or break down completely. Try and apply this concept to your body. If you are fueling your body with less than optimal fuel, we will see similar results as the race car – your body will be running in a much less efficient manner, which can lead to chronic diseases over time.
This epiphany and transformation came after I read the book, “Your Personal Paleo Code” by Chris Kresser. After I tell my friends about this book they always ask me, “What exactly is a paleo code?” I found myself referring them to his website and book, which I find to be excellent resources for anyone who is looking to make real changes in their lives. However, most of the time my friends want to hear exactly what I am eating on a daily basis. So I break it down for them like this:
I eat a portion of meat or fish (protein) with every meal. I would suggest, especially for females, to eat most of your protein in the morning. Protein is very satiating and also has the ability to stabilize a person’s blood glucose throughout the day. I start my typical morning of with bacon, eggs, and an avocado. I will usually cook these in butter or ghee to get some healthy fats in my breakfast.
I try to switch out the pasta (grain) on my plate for a delicious vegetable (sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, etc.) or fruit in addition to the other vegetable or fruit on my plate. Craic, a crossfit gym that I went to in Boston has a patent on the term “no bread”. This is what I would say to most people to understand exactly what I allow myself to consume on a day to day basis.
The biggest complaint I will get from my friends is that they don’t want to be the only person in their group of friends that makes culinary demands when going out to dinner. I tell these friends that as long as we can abide by an 85/15 principle (85 percent of the time we adhere to “paleo code” principles and 15 percent of the time we cheat a little) that our bodies will be able to tolerate this. A good way to do this is by eating from scratch and staying away from added sugars and artificial sweeteners (diet sodas, etc) whenever possible. Going out and having fun with friends is an extremely important part of being happy in life and we must be able to enjoy some of the finer things (often times less health conscious things) when we desire to in order to stay happy. So I say eat, drink, and be merry, but when able do it on a “personal paleo code”!!