Recent research suggests that “chronic cardio exercisers” may not see the same results as those who exercise mostly moderately and in short bursts. Former triathlon competitor Mark Sisson and author of the Primal series, has ruthlessly modified his workout routine, shortening and moderating it, yet he’s never felt better than he does at 59. He also claims that he’s leaner and stronger than ever. Let’s take a look at several ways to rev up the results of your exercise program without lengthening it.
Also known as peak fitness and high-intensity training, the concept is to alternate short bursts of peak effort with longer intervals of moderate (relatively restful) training. Many of the new fitness videos are built on this foundation, and judging by the testimonies of friends, colleagues and strangers, the concept seems to work. The concept is equally adaptive to exercise with or without the use of machines.
You already know that walking uphill gives faster results than strolling through a nice flat surface. Walking up stairs strengthens the legs. Add a little incline to your crunches and even certain stretches, and you multiply the effects of your efforts.
Cardio Weight Training
Does this sound like a contradiction of terms? Many of the Total Gym workouts are constructed so that you spend minimal recovery time between exercises with few or no changes in the equipment. You’re attacking fitness from both directions with cardio weight training. Squeezing in resistance training and a cardio workout in one exercise session is the perfect Rx for a busy lifestyle and especially for Type A personalities.
Over time, your workout routine will become easy to the point of losing effectiveness. Also, by the time you’re walking five (or however many) miles, there may be no more time to be found in your day to increase your walking. The trick is to find a way to work smarter, not longer. Adding weights will intensify a routine without adding more time. Once you have reached the maximum level on your fitness equipment, most of the equipment has a built-in path to add weights for power users.
Vary Your Routine
If you’re bored with your routine, you’re not going to stick with it. Even if you do, you won’t give it your all. Part of the reason that the new exercise DVDs are so popular and effective is that there’s no room for boredom. You never repeat the same workout two days in a row. Take a hint. You can create your own workout program based on this principal while incorporating various forms of exercise that you enjoy. You can also vary by season: Summer offers wonderful opportunities for swimming, tennis and hiking. Winter is great for skiing and cross-country skiing (not to mention snowball fights with the kids), and spring and fall offer beautiful weather for walking outdoors, kite flying, Frisbee, etc.
Everything in life follows the 80/20 rule. That is, 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. If we are essentially ineffective 80 percent of the time, just think how much more effective you can by just slightly altering that ratio. That’s exactly what the five tips above give you: a way to slightly alter the 80/20 rule in your favor.