Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Change The Rules For Maximum Impact

“Working hard is not always the answer. But working better almost always is.”

Michael Johnson

200m and 400m Olympic Gold Medalist

The temptation is to always do more. How many times have you said to yourself, ‘Just one more lift’ or ‘ just a few miles more’ or even ‘maybe just a little longer’ only to regret it the following day. If you haven’t had that experience, then you are one of the lucky ones. Burnout sets off alarms in your body as loud as the sirens in Bagdad. Recently, a lot has been written about training at shorter, but higher intensities. That does not mean that its easier, oh no, but it can be more effective. It all depends on what your training goals are. When you train ‘anaerobically’, you simultaneously improve aerobic fitness, but it seems the reverse of that is not true. Case in point, The Tabata Protocol.

Izumi Tabata, PHD, while based at the National Institute of Sport in Japan conducted a 6 week study, using cycling as his research tool which gave some interesting results. In a nutshell he found that the group which trained at higher percentage of their heart rate in an interval manner improved not only their anaerobic, but their aerobic capacity as well. While those who trained continuously for the same time frame at a lower intensity did not improve their anaerobic capacity, but increased their aerobic fitness by ten percent. The Tabata Protocal is well worth incorporating when structuring your training.

According to the Norwegian investigators who tested two different exercise regimens, high-intensity exercise actually reversed most of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease after just 16 weeks of the exercise program, almost half the patients enrolled in trial no longer had metabolic syndrome, without making any changes to their diets. Less impressive gains were seen with consistent, moderate exercise. The findings were first reported by heartwire when they were presented during a poster session at the 2006 International Symposium on Atherosclerosis. The benefits are clear.

But What About Typical Resistance Training?

Charles Staley’s, Escalating Density System (EDT) has shown that managing fatigue, rather than seeking it, can reap miraculous benefits in terms of strength gains, developing lean muscle mass and drastically altering your body composition. It’s a system that can be adjusted for the fitness enthusiast and the athlete alike. At its most simplistic EDT comprises two fifteen segments in a session, with a five minute rest in between (totalling thirty five minutes excluding warm up!).

Here's how it works:

• Choose two exercises for each segment that work either antagonistic muscle groups (e.g a push and a pull motion) or two exercises that work distal muscle groups (e.g Squat and weighted pull up)

• Select a weight you can manage ten repetitions with good form, and no more

• Alternate the two exercises chosen for that time segment

• Aim to complete five repetitions and no more of your selected weight

That’s it. Simple, but effective. I’ll be writing more on EDT, but in the meantime check it out you’ll have to tread lightly through the sales pitch but definitely worth your time.

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