This just in from IDEA Fit – “Tabata Training – The Hottest Trend in Hard-Core Cardio”. Tabata or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is basically about taking an exercise, such as sprinting or push-ups, and performing that exercise all out for a burst of 20-30 seconds, recovering for 10 seconds, and repeating this 8 times. The key to getting the full benefits of this approach is the “high-intensity” part. That is, you have to push yourself to work those 20 seconds at max effort (85% MHR,or RPE of 15). About a month ago, I set up a Tabata segment for my bootcamp class. We started with V-situps, moved to Push-ups, Prisoner Squats and ended with Tricep Dips. So each move followed a 20 second work and 10 second rest pattern, for 8 sets with a 60 second transition to the next exercise (W20/R10/T60). After watching my bootcamp class tackle Tabata, I ran myself through various other interval workouts, and discovered I really liked this approach because…
- Having the ability to adjust both the interval time and the exercises you do means people of all fitness levels can do this. For instance, you could start with jogging in place for 15 seconds and giving yourself 10 seconds or more recovery before repeating. Once you can handle that, increase the work time to 20 seconds and keep the rest period at 10 seconds. Then progress the work time to 30 seconds, or change the exercise to something more challenging like Jumping Jacks or Squat Jumps.
- No fancy equipment is needed. Your wrist watch or room clock should suffice for timing your intervals. But I have to admit, I love using the free HIIT and Tabata timers you can download on your SmartPhone. They are all very simple to set up, and once you hit start, you just listen for the whistle to blow!
Still looking for a tamer introduction to the world of intervals? I suggest you get moving to your favorite songs. This is one of the best ways to learn to run, but can apply to other movements as well. Grab your mini music player and start walking, briskly, to the first song or two. When the next tune starts, take it up to an easy jog for the duration of that song. When the songs ends, return to your brisk walk for the length of the next song. If your breathing rate has recovered, jog again for the next song. Keep repeating this pattern. Your favorite songs will make the experience more enjoyable and the time goes by quickly. This is the technique I used to develop my ability to run, and I still leverage it today. I just try to pick up my pace and hold it for 2-3 songs now before returning to a jog. And since most songs have a run time between 3 and 4 minutes, you don’t need any other timer, and you can easily estimate your total workout time based on how many songs you’ve heard.
So don’t fear the hottest trend in high intensity… embrace it as a way to bring variety to your exercise program and build intensity appropriate for you, over time.
I just got back from a late afternoon run. A simply picture perfect day with temps around 70 degrees and a very light wind. I headed out on one of my usual routes when just short of my half-way point, I passed a man jogging in the opposite direction. We both smiled, waved and continued on, because of course, this was nothing out of the ordinary. I continued out through the loop and came upon the same man once again, but this time he was walking. “You’re a better person than I am,” he shouted, to which I quickly replied, “No! We’re both out here, and that’s all that matters!”
I wasn’t just trying to be nice or polite, I really meant what I said. I’ll be the first to admit that I get down on myself when I plan to do a longer run, but end up cutting it short. Or have to stop and walk my bike up a hill while others pedal past me. But Glen would constantly remind me that I should feel good about getting out there and doing “something” ! And he’s right. In fact, every time you make the choice to walk, jog or run, shoot some hoops, ride your bike around town or to work, you are doing more than what 85% of the population does. And that’s a lot to be proud of.
I hope that man realizes he has nothing to be ashamed of and instead should be patting himself on the back for getting himself out there! If I see him again on another run, I’ll be sure to tell him that!
5AM rolled around quickly this morning, but who could sleep with my first criterium just 3 hours away! That’s right, I was headed to Bethel CT to watch Glen compete in his second crit. (You actually thought for a moment that I was going to do this?)
It was a pretty day. Pretty darn cold that is, with freezing temps and of course, wind. I watched all the Category 5 riders complete the mandatory training session and take their warm up laps while I fumbled around mounting my cheap point-n-shoot camera on a what my son tells me is a very expensive tripod. That tripod must be impressive because a nice man asked me if my photos would be for sale. I chuckled of course, and we had a nice chat. Turns out he and his 15 yr. old son ride for Pawling. His son was in the Cat 5 and he was riding in Cat 4. Anyway, with my position secured on the outside of the first turn, I was ready to capture the action as riders crowned the hill with every lap. Well actually, I was ready, but the camera required two reboots in the form of popping the battery. (Now I know why Kodak isn’t making cameras anymore.) I knew better than to attempt any single shots, so my plan was to let the video run until the race was over or the battery quit, whichever came first. The good news is, I got the first 10 laps. Unfortunately, the last 5 laps were only recorded in my head, and we all know that is only temporary storage. Once I figure out how to edit the video, I’ll share that.
Actually, a criterium is pretty impressive. In Cat 5 they do 15 laps around a closed road course that is just shy of 1 mile. The start at Bethel is uphill, (isn’t that just mean?) and goes immediately into the first turn. So the start is not exactly fast, though they were all cranking faster than I can do on the flats, but once they get moving you can see the speed build with each lap and watch the pack of riders – actually called a peloton – shape shift like a swarm of bees. It just amazes me how these cyclists can ride wheel to wheel and practice a technique called bumping – without wiping out. At this level, they’re riding between 20- 25 mph. You’ll see 30-35mph in higher categories! Crazy! And Glen, despite covering 35 miles of nonstop hills in New Jersey yesterday, beat last Sunday’s performance! Woot woot!
I’m looking forward to the rest of the series… on hopefully warmer days. And who knows. Maybe you’ll find me at a criterium one weekend, doing more than just taking pictures. 🙂
I love it when I can translate some of the training and insights I’ve gained from my work to my personal life and interests. Take my current role in IBM, working on development transformation. Transformation is all about radically changing how you do things or what you do, to bring about a significant, positive change. But as we all know, change can be scary. It takes you out of your comfort zone. Change can be hard, especially when we try to change too many variables at the same time. In business, the more variables you change concurrently, the riskier your project is deemed to be. This business example can easily be applied to someone trying to make positive changes in their overall health and fitness. When a person suddenly says, “Enough is enough! I have to drop this 20lbs,” they’re highly motivated and looking to make big changes. They dust off the treadmill, buy some new dumbbells, swallow their last beer and swear they’ll never eat out again! They make it through their first week, feeling pretty good, though a little sore. The second week comes and goes… (that beer would really take the burn out of my quads right now), and week three… you know how the rest of the story goes.
Although some people can be successful introducing several changes at once around diet and exercise, I believe, just like the risky project, the more things you change, the more opportunities you create for failure. So what’s the solution? Well just like in business, you need to create small wins. Pick up most any resource on leadership or change management, and the concept of creating small wins – achievable interim goals – along the path to the primary objective (e.g. drop 20lbs.) is essential. Small wins are about creating opportunity for you to succeed. Feeling successful is what fuels your motivation to continue down the path to your goal.
Here’s an example. Rather than adopting some drastic change in your eating habits which will shock your system and be difficult to adhere to, you instead define your first goal. Change #1: focus on portion control for the next two weeks. Continue to eat all the foods you normally would, but eat the appropriate serving size. Since most Americans today simply eat too much, focusing on portion control alone will yield weight reduction benefits. By the end of two weeks you’ll feel successful and motivated to introduce your next change. Change #2: (in addition to portion control) eliminate two to three obvious enemies (high sugar, saturated fats), from your diet, such as soda and potato chips. Not sure what to eliminate? Consult myplate.gov. Then your next change could be around making smarter food choices…
And so the cycle of introducing smaller goals and allowing yourself to be successful changing one thing at a time, can significantly improve your chances of achieving your overall objective.
So whether you’re looking to eat healthier or adopt a more active lifestyle, get big results with small wins!