Running quote of the week

“I love track running. There’s something about that red 400-meter circle that lets my brain switch off—no roads to cross, no bikes to watch out for.” – Kate Carter

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A four minute workout that beats an hour's worth of exercise

4 minutes a day - only $14,000!
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

The skies were clear when I got up this morning but I decided to take the easier road with an indoor run. Part of it was due to time. I'd slept up to my alarm, giving me only 15 minutes to prep, get outside and run. I'm sure that 15 minutes sounds like a lot but, in the early morning, time goes by like a freight train. That is, until you are on the treadmill, where every minute feels like three.

As I ran through my workout this morning, I thought about an article I read on Active.com about Tabata training. This training method involves a short duration program (< 5 minutes) consisting of 20-second maximum-intensity sprints separated by 10-second recovery periods. According to the article, a study compared stationary cyclists doing hour-long, moderately intensive, workouts (control group) to another group that did the Tabata training.

Both groups did five workouts a week for six weeks. The control group's weekly duration was 5 hours while the Tabata's totaled just 20 minutes. The control group improved their VO2 max by 9.5% with no change to anaerobic capacity. The Tabata group improved their VO2 max by 14 percent and improved their anaerobic capacity by 28 percent!

It made me think of that $14,000 ROM machine they've been advertising in the back of Popular Science since my college days. The claim is that this machine gives you a complete workout in four minutes a day. If Tabata is for real, then perhaps that's really true. But according to the article, any maximum intensity workout will do the job. You certainly don't need to spend $14K to get the same benefit as pushups.

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