20 second, one minute, four minute and ten minute workouts, Facts and Foolish

Recently, I came across some really goofy stuff concerning the duration of work outs and their efficacy. A twenty second work out! This is a cruel joke on the unsuspecting. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/20-second-workout-fitness-23046660, First of all, if you are looking to  something like this as the way to exercise, you are almost certainly already in a physical and state of health, disaster zone. Healthy people do not look for this kind of nonsense, because it does not work, period. Now when the record holding gold medalist Usain Bolt sprints a 200 meter race in 20 seconds or less, he probably blasts through about 200 calories. At thirty miles an hour he is burning 36 times as much energy every second than you do on a per pound basis, when you are jogging or running at 5 miles per hour, and burns through six times as many calories as you do over the SAME DISTANCE, due to the laws of physics. The reason I mention this is, you are not Usain Bolt.  When I sprint the same distance, I only burn 2/3 the amount of energy or calories as Bolt does on a per pound basis, and on a per pound basis Bolt burns 2.25 times as much energy on a per second basis. I would have to maintain the same speed over a 267meter distance to burn just as many calories. The 5 MPH runner would have to run three fourths of a mile, to burn as many calories and take 13 minutes to finish. How does 13 minutes compare to 20 seconds? This should encourage you to run faster and exercise with greater intensity, whatever type of exercise you are doing. This is the good part. Now the caution flags.

This brings up the other point in the form of a question, of this message: How do you do this without a warm up as indicated by some of these “programs?” The answer is you can’t unless a greatly increased risk of death is unimportant to you. Bolt warms up and you are probably not as good as Bolt. I warm up too for that distance and or that time frame. Guess what, you just pushed your exercise time out to about ten minutes before you do one quality 20 second effort (30 seconds is more likely to get your heart rate into the sweet spot in the beneficial zone for rapid cardio vascular improvement). If running is all you do, the absolute minimum time frame to get very good results is about 25 to thirty minutes, and running is the most efficient way to do this type of exercise, substituting any of your running with any other form of exercise will be less efficient and therefore take more time. Adding strength training, which you should do and range of motion exercises, ending with a stretching meditative cool down brings you to about one hour.

Tabata training, which is getting a lot of press in the fitness journals and trade magazines, is set to a four minute frame, but with the rest to work ratios, some trainers mistakenly see as set in stone, DOES NOT PEAK YOUR SPEED OR POWER OR STRENGTH. Additionally the first Tabata effort will be the only one done at a very high level and because of the speed element involved, will require a warm up to do safely to reduce injury or heart attack (heart attacks induced by high intensity exercise or efforts are usually fatal, since the body is in a deep state of oxygen deprivation and need, including cardiac tissue, http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/22/occasional-sex-or-exercise-can-trigger-heart-attacks-—-so-do-it-more-often/).

To peak, you must visit the extremes of your ability many times, anywhere from 5 or 6 times to 13 times in a session, three times a week. This is also the fastest way to increase your cardio-vascular fitness. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094629.htm.

Regardless of what anyone says, researchers and doctors are far behind personal trainers and coaches when it comes to understanding the application of exercise to get optimal fitness. Their research is however critical to future understanding, since they are able to test what is happening in a laboratory setting, although no treadmill is up to task when it comes to the sprint start and top end speed. Personal trainers and coaches look to research for confirmation or refutation of training techniques. This of course is dialectic. New refinements are then added to or subtracted from the orthodox methods, step by step.

The lesson: No exercise plan will work if it is too short, high intensity exercise requires a warm up if reducing your chances of injury or fatal heart attack are of interest to you, and you should do some strength training to compliment whatever your favorite mode of exercise is.

Edward Troy, personal trainer



2 thoughts on “20 second, one minute, four minute and ten minute workouts, Facts and Foolish

  1. Hi Edward,

    To save wear and tear on my neck I didn’t go to the abc news link you provided. I’m almost certain I’d be shaking my head the entire time.

    In my opinion anyone that is pushing the shorter duration feature is usually trying to find a way to appeal to the many people that don’t like to or don’t want to exercise. I remember the infomercials for 6 Minute Abs. Now it seems like a race to promote the briefest workout possible, not because it is effective but because of the selling potential.
    Many downsides to that- it deludes the minds of those that really need help getting themselves in the proper state of mind to get fit, possibly wastes their money buying these programs, and the worst as far as I’m concerned it makes our job difficult trying to educate them about the reality of what is required to get fit and reach their goals. We’ll be seen by some as the meanies for delivering “bad news” that they’d rather not hear.

    I think that there is benefit to high intensity workouts but people need to realize that there should be a good fitness foundation before attempting to exercise at the intensity that some HIT protocols require. Usually the shorter duration workouts prescribe higher intensities which could be hazardous for some people without the right level of conditioning.

    But a 20 second workout? That’s ridiculous!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaron, you are obviously a diligent professional personal trainer. You analytically point out how the state of mind is being influenced by absolute nonsense in marketing. The word “deludes” aptly describes that state of mind where some one, call them lazy, refusers to exercise, or sedentary want to believe so badly that if they wish hard enough, getting off the sofa to grab another large pizza (not just a slice) will be described and accepted as exercise and then finally as high intensity exercise. Clearly, you and I and any other fitness professional will understand this as contributing to the ongoing and increasing problem of obesity in this country — not as a solution. Placating the emotions of the sedentary obese, by tacitly saying it is ok if you eat that way and don’t exercise we like you just as you are, isn’t necessarily beneficial to their health.

    A dose of ice cold information and reality is what they need even if that is not what they want. Too many people confuse “want” with “need.” Needs are air, food, water and shelter/clothing. All of those can be compromised in quality by pollution, foolish choices in what is called “food,” insufficiency and wear and tear. Everything else is a want or even anathema to well being. When mere wants supersede, to any degree, absolute needs the result is dysfunction. Within the context of this blog, that means obesity, cardio vascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension, and various forms of cancer. All, except some of the cancers, can be prevented nearly 100% with exercise and a diet optimized to the individual. One might assume that the individuals at issue are smarter than lemmings, yet many will be sold to run off the cliffs and drown in the sea of marketing schlock. The sadness I have is, there are human beings that I will not meet, who will not cry tears of joy at finding their genetic beauty and ability, will not be able to thank me for the guidance, due to preventable mortality.

    Liked by 2 people

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