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SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

I Would Exercise, But...

What’s the number one reason for why people don’t exercise?

I am the CEO and Founder of Lagree Fitness and have twenty years of experience in the fitness industry. You don’t need to have helped the thousands of clients I have to know that the answer to the above question is, “I don’t have the time.”

Hour-long workouts are great for some people, but they aren’t for everybody. Maybe you feel like you have to be a gymrat to get the results you see on television and in magazines or you have responsibilities that limit your time for exercise. Just imagine how great you would feel if you could exercise for 25 minutes a day and have better results than exercising for an hour or more. It would be like being paid the same salary for half the work.

At my studio, I teach 25 minute classes. Why? Here are a few reasons how twenty-five minutes of focused, intense exercise can be better than sixty minutes of equal exercise.

AVERAGE JOE

First, let’s  take a look at the word, “intense.” Intense does not mean sprinting as hard as you can for as long as you can or working out so hard that you vomit. Intense means burning a significant amount of calories, but not so many that carbohydrates become the body’s preferred source of energy. That balance is obviously going to vary from from individual to individual. Intense for Venus Williams may not be intense for Serena.

The common misconception when it comes to shorter workouts is that you need to be in great shape already to benefit from high-intensity exercise. The reality is, you don’t need to be a Navy Seal or American Ninja Warrior in order to benefit from a shorter workout. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that a similar fat loss was obtained regardless of exercise dose. This is why exercising for thirty minutes or less versus sixty is being recommended to people with busy schedules, who want to train on their lunch break, and who aren’t fitness junkies.

THE SCIENCE

The human body has an emergency response to exercise. Which is to say, that at the start of any workout, regardless of activity, your body burns glycogen for fuel. Once your body realizes you aren’t fleeing from a saber toothed tiger, your body switches over to burning fat for energy. It was once thought that training during this “fat burning” period was optimal for overall health and weight loss, but it is now known that the opposite is true. It’s the “I’m about to get eaten, run for my life” window we want to take advantage of because this is where we can alter our body’s metabolism. This is the key to quickly and efficiently changing body composition.

The majority of gains occur in this window because the oxidation of muscles has not set in yet. Anyone who has felt like taking a nap immediately after exercising has felt these effects. This is why it is best to conclude exercising right before the oxidation occurs -- at roughly the twenty to twenty-five minute mark. Training to this peak and stopping right before oxidation will also lead to having more energy throughout the day and faster recovery times.

If you work out too hard for too long, you risk breaking down more muscle than you can repair.  This is why the majority of losses occur in the second half-hour of exercise. Muscle fatigue leads to chronic health issues because you can damage tissue and ligaments.

I want to be clear that this approach does not mean longer exercise is bad, but for the average, time-crunched person it’s good to know that short, intense, exercise has been proven to be your ticket to staying healthy.

TRAIN LIKE BOBBY FISHER

Strategy is far more important that time. If you have a strategy for your exercise regime, you can train more efficiently and make the most of your time. This does not mean you need to be have written an encyclopedia on fitness or know how to checkmate your opponent in four moves to design an effective exercise campaign. It does, however, mean switching your phone to airplane mode and putting away that magazine.

Strategy leads to being mentally engaged in what you’re doing. James Ellis regularly posts to his instagram account inventive ways of using conventional gym equipment in unconventional ways. For instance, he’ll show you a clever way of using a lat-pulldown machine to exercise your hamstrings. James is constantly strategizing his way through the gym to make the most of his time. With shorter, more strategic workouts, you will engage the mind and the body, which will optimize outcomes.

Ultimately, you know if you’re working out to your full potential or not. And you are the only person you have to answer to. We’ve all made excuses as to why we can’t workout today or skipped an exercise because someone else was using a particular machine.

We are a society that wants it now. We want Youtube videos to stop buffering and load now. We want the shows we want to watch to be on now. And we want to be fit now. The reality is, fitness is a process. There is no quick fix or miracle pill. If that was the case, we would all look like the cast of “Baywatch.” Fitness is a lifestyle. Fitness is a commitment. Fitness is a state-of-being. But with twenty-five minutes of intense exercise you can optimize your time, keep your mind engaged, and will find an effective alternative that is a commitment that is easier for a lot of us to make.

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