July 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to July, the coldest month in the Southern Hemisphere. Relevance to this month’s news letter is that you may feel like staying wrapped up on your couch rather than hitting the gym but there is another way to look at your training in this chilly month. A fall back minimal input for optimal return if you like?

If a warm home is more alluring than the grit & steel of the club workout zones, consider this scientific theory that has been around for some time & is evermore sports science proven.

Sports scientists & in particular one professor Dr. Michael Mosley (UK) have long since advocated this ‘3 minute’ high intensity burst of interval training merely once per week for a grand total of 3 minutes, that is correct, just 3 minutes a week.

Now you may think I am shooting my own club in the foot but I merely make comment of this theory so as to provide motivation to those who fear that a trip to the gym means hours of slog every day. It doesn’t, it can mean as little as a minute a day or 3 minutes once per week, if you really are that time poor, that exhausted or that unmotivated to do any more.

I merely point out that as a fallback situation, one can literally achieve internal physiological enhancement by a mere 1 minute a day of intense cardio-respiratory exercise. Indeed just that short, sharp, aggressive hit of energy is literally enough to stimulate some physiological change.

No, it won’t hone your body, sculpt your physique, set you up to do a biathlon, triathlon or even a half marathon but it will improve your otherwise sedentary life. So if unmotivated to hit the club, just envisage yourself treading a fast 180 second sprint, a powerful 180 second cross-train, a staggering 180 second climb or indeed a 180 second row or cycle. It is all you need to create some physiological enhancement in your body’s inner organs, chemistry & so workings.

A few relatively short bursts of intense exercise, amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health & fitness benefits of hours of conventional gym workouts, this according to 2002-2012 research by the likes of Dr Michael Mosley. But how much benefit you get from either may well depend on your genetics too.

When I initially read this research in 2005 & again in 2011 & 2012 I thought it ridiculous & unproven. How could someone make significantly quantifiable changes to their health & fitness by completing a mere three minutes of exercise once a week?

Bearing in mind that aerobic fitness is a measure of how efficiently your heart & lungs transport oxygen into & around your body & is also an excellent predictor of future health & wellbeing, maybe there is some truth is this research. Science is there to prove that by doing just three minutes of HIT / HIIT or HITT a week for four weeks, one could expect to see significant changes in a number of important health indices.

The first & the one of most note is ‘insulin sensitivity’. Remember that Insulin removes sugar from the blood, it controls fat & when it becomes ineffective you can become diabetic, a type 2 diabetic no less. The research from a number of centers has shown that three minutes of HIT/HIIT/HITT a week improves insulin sensitivity by an average of circa 24%.

The second improvement to be noted would be your aerobic fitness levels. Aerobic fitness is a measure of how efficient one’s heart & lungs are at getting oxygen into your body & is also a somewhat accurate predictor of future physical conditioning.

Intensive exercise is also necessary to break down the body’s stores of glucose, deposited in your muscles as a substance called glycogen. Break up these glycogen stores as one needs to & you then create room for more glucose to be sucked out of the blood & stored.

A factor to be borne in mind is the ‘genetics’ factor. Not everyone responds well to HIT or HITT or HIIT exercise for these short sharp bursts of as little as 3 minutes a week. That said, everyone has some reaction but not everyone has improvement, enhancement or definitive physiological change, granted.

However, everyone will have some benefit to a lesser or greater extent & so 1 minute of 3 by 20 second spurts broken up by 40 second low intensity cardio of the same activity between the 3 individual all action spurts over that same 3 minute period on a mere 3 days per week will certainly create improvement in most people’s inner physiology. Or as I prefer to advocate as a fall back position 5 minutes a day of interval CV training is far better than zero minutes a day & will create change.

So why not simply come to the club knowing you merely have to nail 300 seconds or 5 minutes here before you can turn on your heel & walk back out the door. Easier to envisage than 30 – 45 minutes of strength followed by the same of CV training & it may just bring you into the club where you become inspired & train longer & harder.

As an example as to how to execute this ilk of training read on? You just get on an exercise bike, warm up by doing gentle cycling for one minute or a couple of minutes, then go flat out for 20 seconds followed by another couple of minutes to create the necessary interval aspect of your workout. The then followed by another 20 seconds at full tilt, followed by another couple of minutes gentle cycling, then a final 20 seconds going hell for leather & indeed, that’s it – all done.

When you do HIIT, HITT or HIT, you are using not just the leg muscles, but also the upper body including arms & shoulders depending on the piece of apparatus you choose be it Marpo Kinetics, cycle, treadmill or other. So ensure that 80% of the body’s muscle cells are all activated, this compared to 20-40% activated when walking or moderate intensity jogging or gentle cycling etc.

So, I am not advocating a mere 5 minutes 3 times a week as a permanent solution to everyone or anyone’s fitness & conditioning but I am saying it is feasible & a fall-back solution when you may be experiencing phases in your life that leave you time poor, de-motivated, disinterested or simply wanting to continue with your body’s internal health & well-being improvements or maintenance & have minimal time to execute this essential work.

Just remember that if needs be you can literally ‘hit, hiit or hitt’ the gym for a mere 5 minutes on 1 to 3 days per week & still improve your body’s inner health. Then when your get the fitness bug again & create the drive from within & / or find the additional time to really start shaping, honing & training yourself at least you will know that your inner engine & core so to speak has at least been oiled & is more ready for action than it may be otherwise.