For the 3rd time in just over a month, I found myself in Newark, Delaware this weekend. I went to two fantastic senior recitals, and was blown away by the performances of my friends. Congratulations guys!
Before the recitals began on Saturday, I headed to the Newark Reservoir with a brother for some hill sprints. I asked him during a party on Saturday night, and was about 50% confident he agreed because he wasn’t aware of the slope of the hill. Unfortunately for both of us, neither was I, and we arrived to find a hill that varried between 30 and 45 degrees of incline. Not what we had planned for, but absolutely amazing. After a warm up and a calculation of distances, we began our hill sprints. Each trip I descended lower and lower to try to push my limits, and by the last one I was agreeing with Andrew that it was a stupid idea. As terrible as it felt to run that hill… I’ll probably be doing it again the next time I’m in Newark. If you’re reading this and you’re in the Newark, DE area, get yourself over to the Reservoir on Old Paper Mill Road and Run up that hill. Let me point out that it’s straight up the grass, not along the paved pathway. Straight. Up. Hill. It will lead to short term dissatisfaction, and long term satisfaction. Hill Sprints are fantastically efficient and developing conditioning, building muscle, burning fat, as well as making you way cooler than your friends at Zumba class. Interval training in general offers far more benefits than steady state cardio or glorified dancing. In fact, check out the following articles! (Great transition, Harold.)
Recently published on T-Nation, “The Best Damn Cardio Article, Period!” is a humorous piece by Nate Miyaki that casually discusses the steady-state-cardio/fat loss myth, and gives plenty of anecdotal details on why strength and interval training is far more productive than steady state training for fat loss. While there is a lack of science in this article, he does breaks out the research in parts 2 and 3, which I tracked down on his personal website. If your goals fall anywhere between ‘living longer’, ‘looking amazing’, and ‘being a better athlete’, you should spend the time to read the 3 article series. I’m pretty sure that I covered every goal you could possibly have, so if those aren’t your goals, we need to sit down and have a talk.
These articles cover almost every question you can have about cardio as far as fat loss is concerned. However, let me add something that Nate discusses in part 1 that I’ve found myself saying to multiple people in the past week. If you love doing something, keep doing it. You don’t need to completely throw away an exercise program that you love. As an example, I know plenty of people who love jogging because of the endorphin rush. The first remark made my Zumba lovers is that “It’s so fun!” If you’re going to love exercising because it’s fun or makes you feel good, then keep doing it! It would be stupid and counterproductive of me to tell you to do otherwise. However, you should blend strength training and interval based cardio into your current exercise programming. How can you do this?! I knew you’d want examples.
Let’s use Zumba as an example. As much as I dispise the ‘Zumba is so intense’ and ‘Zumba increases my metabolism’ comments, for plenty of people it may be the absolutely hardest thing they’ve ever done. (Did you see the picture of that hill? Just saying…) Excluding my thoughts on Zumba, say you’re going to 2 Zumba classes a week. You walk/run/watch Oprah the other 5 days, but you could be trying something like this instead.
Sunday – Full Body Strength Training
Monday – Zumba Class #1
Tuesday – Sprint Intervals
Wednesday – Full Body Strength Training
Thursday – Zumba Class 2
Friday – Sprint Intervals
Saturday – Jersey Shore Marathon.
Boom, look at that. You can get in your 3 guilty pleasures for the week. You can also spend 4 days doing some very healthy, very efficient training. Sure, you may not like doing your sprints on interval days, and you may night like doing chin ups on your strength days. You love your Zumba though, so you’ll follow your schedule and work hard. Right? I’m trying to include the things that YOU like in this schedule, people! In reality, there are 5 things in 7 days that make me want to throw up, but I’m including Zumba and Jersey Shore as a favor to you! The other 2 are the sprints. In order for those to be REALLY effective, you should feel a little queasy when you’re finished with them. I’m not telling you to go out and sprint until you throw up, that’s not a good idea. But if you push for that feeling of ‘Uh-oh, this could be bad’, you’re on to something good. And if not, then I’ll find a hill with you and I’ll show you what intervals are like. Just don’t expect to see me in a Zumba class.