Monday, December 30, 2013


Workout of the Day

Trainer's Choice All Week!

Reduced hours Tue & Wed, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
Tue, Dec 31: 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 AM & Noon
Wed, Jan 1: 10AM, 11AM, & Noon.  Close at 1 PM

The Importance of Short Workouts.

Recently we have had some folks gripe about a 5 min AMRAP workout, to the effect that it was too short, e.g., "I don't want to drive over to the gym for a 5 minute workout." That thinking is misguided for several reasons.

First, the workout is only part of what you should be doing when you come to the gym. To begin with there is the warm-up. The old "CrossFit Warm-up" consisted of 3 rounds of 10 each of Hip Extension, Sit-up, Push-up, Pull-up, and Air Squat. For many folks that's a pretty good workout, especially if you try to get through fast. As you advance, you can substitute harder exercises or work on weaknesses in the warm-up: Ring Dips or Handstand Push-ups in place of Push-ups, Overhead Squat with empty bar in place of Air Squat, etc. There is also mobility work and skills work (can you walk on your hands yet?) that everyone needs to be working on, and the extra time that a short workout provides is an excellent opportunity.

Second, and most importantly is the role of intensity. Short workouts allow high intensity. Long workouts do not. Intensity in exercise physiology is defined as being exactly equal to average power output. Work is equal to force x distance. Deadlift 300 lbs to a height of 2 ft and you have done 600 foot pounds of work. Power is the rate of work, how fast you do the work. So, in Fran, without even knowing the data on work and power, if I do all the work in 3 minutes, my power output is four times what it is if I do it in 12 minutes. Is the 12 minute Fran workout better for you because it is longer? No. To quote Glassman, "Intensity is the independent variable most closely associated with every favorable adaptation to exercise." Repeat that to yourself several times. What are the favorable adaptations? Look better naked, better health, get stronger, run faster, jump higher, you name it. Remember, intensity = power = the rate of work. The shorter the workout, the faster you move, the higher the power output. So what is going on that makes intensity so important? The answer is neuroendocrine response. High intensity functional movements have been proven over and over again to elicit a much more profound anabolic neuroendocrine response than low intensity exercise. Why do so many marathoners look like stick figures? Because so many of them only do long workouts, which are low intensity exercise. High intensity can only be sustained for short periods. Long workouts are necessarily at low intensity. Can you run a 10K with 400 splits as fast as you can run a 400? No, no one can. Shorter workouts and interval workouts with recovery between efforts allow higher intensity, and are much better for you in every way.

And don't worry. Variance is also important, and we do have longer workouts in our programming. But you are cheating yourself if your cherry pick and skip the workouts you don't like.

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