When I started going to the gym in high school I would do the circuits, run on the treadmill, take a couple classes, really do anything that didn’t hurt too badly. I figured just being at the gym would get me in better shape, just my presence amongst all of that metal and machinery would fix all of my problems. On really tough days, like when I stayed on the treadmill for more than 15 minutes, I would go home and eat cookies.
In college I got a little more serious, and by serious I mean I went to the gym more regularly and really early in the morning. Did you know that going to the gym early in the morning automatically makes you more fit? Well that’s what I THOUGHT at least. I would meet Evan at the gym and he would get to work right away doing whatever it was that made him all sweaty while I would stretch for a good 30 minutes, then meander over to the machines and move from one to the other. I would then go directly the dining court and eat my daily quota of Special K and oatmeal.
During my junior year Evan introduced me to Crossfit and after I got done hating him for the first week, I really began enjoying it. Although I was not doing it with full intensity, I felt challenged even as I moved at my own pace. It was the good kind of discomfort that lets you know you’re working hard and it will pay off. Even my mediocre efforts paid off– I was finally doing functional movements that impacted my body in a positive way. I was moving the way my body was designed to move.
When I finally learned what real intensity was I realized I was capable of so much more than I thought. Before I would slow down when it got too painful, now I speed up to get it over with faster. Coach Glassman, CEO of Crossfit said “You can’t look good and get better at the same time.” Improvement takes effort. These words I’m using; discomfort, intensity, pain–I can imagine that they’re not very inviting. Maybe the facts will be more encouraging:
Why high intensity training works:
- It’s aerobic and anaerobic: by training with brief, all out efforts ( 1-10 minutes long) you are training your anaerobic system. Longer workouts, maybe 20-30 minutes long are training your aerobic system.
- It increases the amount of calories you burn. Even though you are exercising for a shorter amount of time, you are putting out more effort and burning more calories.
- Increased intensity causes your body to use more fat as fuel.
- Inceases muscle. We’re not talking body builder muscle, we’re talking necessary muscle for everyday activities and strengthening the supports that keep your skeleton moving.
- It’s fast.
- It’ fun, especially if you do it with a friend. Loser buys coffee.
- It doesn’t get boring, doing something different everyday keeps you from quitting when you get tired of your training.
- It just might save your life.
Look at A Week of Workouts for ideas.
Anderson, Dean. “High Intensity Interval Training.” Free Diet Plans at SparkPeople. Spark People. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=621>.