Whenever I'm at my favorite Kansas City gym, I still see lots of members sitting and standing around waiting for the next set. Either they are training for a body building competition or they don't know that resting between sets is out of style!
In a time-crunched world, who has time for rest during workouts? The old-fashioned "do a set, rest, do a set, rest", and so on is effective, but it isn't efficient when it comes to overall fitness. If you're looking to build muscle by doing low reps, high intensity sets, keep doing so. To maximize your time and continue to improve other aspects of your fitness, such as core movements and flexibility, choose a low intensity exercise to do in that 45-90 second rest period that doesn't elevate your heart rate. This might include a plank or a dynamic stretch.
Whatever you do, keep moving!
High-intensity interval training has been on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) list of top fitness trends for the past. To generalize the definition of a HIIT workout, it combines short, anaerobic bursts of exercise with shorter rest periods.
On a podcast featuring cardiologist Dr. John Higgins, he reviewed new research that shows that men see more benefits to their level of fitness including decreased body fat and increased aerobic capacity after about six weeks of training. Women, on the other hand, did not show as much improvement.
An very important asterisk to this research is that the population of women that showed lesser results were those who are post-menopausal and nearing retirement age. Younger and middle-aged women actually did see similar results as the men. This suggests that the difference for older women is related to hormonal changes or an overall ability to perform high intensity workouts.
One important bulletpoint to consider is that HIIT workouts were created to cater to those busy people who only had 20-30 minutes to sneak in a workout. Meaning, this type of workout might work best for them only because that's all they have time for.
Although men do see greater results from HIIT workouts than women, personal trainers will admit that they watch men closer because of their higher risk for a cardiac event, such as a heart attack. For the older population, both men and women, fitness programs will still benefit from some HIIT workouts, but the "foundation" should be more moderate exercise to protect themselves from both injury and a significant health event.
As spring creeps up quickly, lots of events around Kansas City will be getting people out of the house and more active. The winner of this weekend's healthiest event is the Kansas Caucus. Voting is sort of like going to confession; you always feel good about doing it.
Locate your closest caucus event and if it's within 2 miles, choose to walk. The weather is favorable in March and makes for comfortable walking conditions.
You can find your caucus locations by going to these websites:
Kansas Democratic Party
As a health professional, anytime I see a news article about a major professional athlete, I pay attention. I like reading about how particular they are about what they eat and what their secrets are to staying healthy. What you put into your body is the fuel it uses to perform daily tasks. If you're eating Captain Crunch and drinking Pepsi all day, chances are your body isn't very healthy and has trouble recovering from illness and injury.
I'm a baseball fanatic. I have been since about age 10. I will watch it on tv, in person, listen on the radio and even talk to my cat about who should start at right field... I've always taken an interest in our hometown hero, Alex Gordon. A few years ago, I read an article about how meticulous he is about his workout routine and diet. He obsesses over his pregame routine, doesn't eat sweets and wouldn't be caught dead eating fried food. I never forgot this. He isn't my favorite player, but I have so much respect for his discipline to make lots of small sacrifices that have ended with big rewards.
So the other day, I was getting my daily baseball brief (have I mentioned I love baseball?) and I was reading interviews from Royals spring training. Included in the article was a picture of sleeveless Alex Gordon. Instead of having thoughts of a blushing teenage girl, I couldn't help but think,
"He is a true picture of health."
At that moment, I decided that I can do more to take better care of myself. I'm going on the Alex Gordon diet!
I challenge you to make one single "major league" change and treat your body like you are a professional athlete. The rewards are worth the small, temporary sacrifices and will be life changing.