For the body to change it must either exercise longer or at a higher intensity than it is used to handling. Higher intensity workouts by necessity will be shorter, but they are very effective. Just some of the things to consider when making a high intensity training (HIT) routine that is safe and effective:
Creep(from Wikipedia) - In materials science, creep is the tendency of a material to move slowly or deform permanently under the influence of mechanical stresses.
Our bodies degrade similarly over time, but there is a difference. Our body is the only machine that can actually improve when stressed. When the body is exposed to more stress than it is used to handling, as a form of self-protection, the body will make a positive adaption.
The proper amount of stress is the amount that produces the most positive change, anything more than that is at best has a lower marginal return, and at worst it is damaging.
Proper strength training produces positive change. At Strength Trainers Austin, at New Orleans Strength Training our goal is not to see how much stress you can handle, but to find the least amount that will produce the largest marginal change. Such an approach will not involve hours in the gym each week.
From this study, High-intensity strength training in nonagenarians. Effects on skeletal muscle, the results for nine 90+ year old institutionalized volunteers after eight weeks of high intensity strength training:
- Strength gains averaged 174%
- mid-thigh muscle area increased 9.0%
- gait speed improved 48%
The study concludes that high-resistance weight training leads to significant gains in muscle strength, size, and functional mobility among frail residents of nursing homes up to 96 years of age.
A small improvement in isolation is just that, a small improvement, but if you add up all the small improvements it can be quite significant, even life changing. There is an incredibly long list of benefits from high intensity strength training.
From the website Body By Science, some of less familiar more esoteric benefits of high intensity strength training:
-Reversal of age-related gene expression
A study examined the effects of two different exercise protocols on health indicators such as insulin sensitivity and cardio-respiratory fitness. The two protocols: the sprint exercise protocol (SIT), three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints with two minutes of easy cycling between sprints and the moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocol, 45 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace. Both had warm-up and cool down periods.
A quote from this article, No time to get fit? Think again, that reported on the study:
“After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the MICT protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.”
And another quote:
From this article, A new study says a glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym:
“Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are similar to those we get from exercise.”
Resveratrol comes in pill form too. There are other alternatives as well.
After spending several hours in the gym the first week of the year, the man told me, “Six months from now I will be doing the butterfly across that pool”. I didn’t see the man the next week; in fact, I never saw him again. What good is an exercise program that requires several hours a week if you don’t stick to it? It is worse than useless if you are paying monthly bank drafts to the gym/collection agency.
From this NY Times article Advice From a Former Olympic Hopeful: Set the Bar Low - The New York Times some quotes:
When you are chased by a bear your body goes into a fight or flight mode. I’d recommend flight. It doesn't matter to your body; your body will call upon all its resources to survive the encounter. Your heart rate increases, your heart pumping volume increases, and your venous return increases as your body makes an all-out attempt to survive. If you survive your body will make a positive adaptation so that you are better able to survive the next encounter. From a cardiovascular fitness standpoint it would be a good idea to be chased by a bear from time to time. Barring that one could do some form of high intensity training (HIT).
As you reach flight or fight, either encountering a bear or a HIT session on a bike or in the weight room, there will be an increase in endorphins to deal with the pain caused by the exertion, and your adrenaline system will be activated resulting in another positive adaptation.
To lower your blood pressure do high intensity training HIT or start strength training. Better yet, do them both at the same time.
High intensity training HIT consists of a series of short bouts of demanding exercise with rest or active recovery (less demanding exercise) in between each bout of exercise. HIT for strength can be done performing a series of strength training exercise with little rest in between. Evidence from two studies point to the positive effects both HIT and strength training have on lowering blood pressure.
This study, High-intensity interval training and hypertension: maximizing the benefits of exercise? compared continuous moderate-intensity exercise training (CMT) and high-intensity interval training (HIT), to determine which was better for lowering blood pressure. They presented evidence that:
“HIT for several factors involved in the pathophysiology of hypertension raises the hypothesis that HIT may be more effective for preventing and controlling hypertension”.
I once asked a 65-year-old friend of mine when was the last time he had gone all out. He replied, “John it's been decades”.
Our bodies respond to the stresses placed on them by making a positive adaptation to handle that stress. Our skin becomes tan, our hands become calloused, our muscles become stronger, and our body increases its capacity to burn sugar longer.
If we do not place demands on our body our body downgrades its ability to handle demanding work. Muscle is metabolically expensive to maintain. If we do not need it we lose it, and our bodies become weaker. As a consequence we burn fewer calories, we lose flexibility, our cardiovascular system becomes compromised, we are more prone to injury, our immune system becomes weaker, and our bones decalcify.
How much demanding work is enough to cause a positive change? That depends on how far out of shape you are. From this article, Six seconds 'can transform health', comes this quote:
"A group of pensioners came into the lab twice a week for six weeks and went hell for leather on an exercise bike for six seconds.