Posted by: Joe Nuss on Dec 19, 2010
By Brian Diaz, MPT, CSCS
As the year is coming to a close, I am proud to say that I have witnessed and trained several athletes who made the jump to endurance events and completed their first 5K, half marathon, or triathlon this year. What a wonderful accomplishment that has left many of you wanting more of this in the coming year but at the same time wondering, can I just look better at the same time? Well, the answer is yes! You can!
While adding varying levels or cardiovascular exercise in the form of jogging, biking, or swimming will indeed help you reach the goal of completing the event you are aiming for, this alone will NOT, in many cases, get you LOOKING like you want. In order to get that, you will need to balance nutrition and a resistance weight program as well.
Obviously, this isn’t rocket science and I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know (especially in terms of diet), but you will need to make a conscience effort to eliminate unnecessary sugars and unwanted fats that are just wasted calories. For the purpose of this article, we will only address the exercise component and leave out an extensive discussion of nutrition. Meeting with a nutritionist to help you find a diet that works specifically for you is a good plan if you aren’t successfully doing this on your own. Timing is almost just as important as what you are ingesting, and I strongly urge you to discuss this with the nutritionist when you meet with them to maximize the gains.
That leaves the resistance weight program. This is where many of us fail, especially in the endurance world. We just don’t have a grasp of what exercises are best to facilitate the gains we are making in our cardiovascular realm while helping us look the best we can. Some of us also fight to balance the time it will take to add this type of training to an already jam-packed schedule. The answer is full-body multi-joint movements in conjunction with a high-intensity timing routine to build lean muscle tissue and at the same time improve cardiovascular function and VO2 max, which will speed up metabolism and shed fat to bring the muscle out.
Setting up exercises in small groups or pairs and rotating between them like a circuit allows you to “actively rest” the muscle that you just worked while exercising a completely different muscle group. You only need a few sets of about 8–10 total movements that can be done in 30 minutes of total exercise time (including the warm-up and cool-down). After you have chosen your exercises, then you have to decide the timed interval or quantified number of repetitions that you want to complete. Sometimes the timed interval is the easiest to choose because this allows you to go as hard as possible for a given time regardless of resistance level.
One of the more famous researchers and innovators of the high-intensity training is Izumi Tabata. His Tabata Method or Protocol is a heavily researched means of training that has you go hard for 20 seconds of a various exercise and then rest for 10 seconds. The original protocol called for a 5 min warm-up followed by 8 minutes of exercise using the 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off continuously followed by 2 minutes of cool-down. I would modify and extend that over a little more time to look like such: 5 minute warm-up, 4 x (4 minutes of exercise then 1 minute of extended rest to get some water) followed by a 5 minute cool-down.
What exercises should someone do in that time? I would pick 8 exercises, pair them together, and repeat them throughout the routine. Here’s a sample of 8 great movements put together in order that allows for some active rest. Please make sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist prior to undertaking this routine. These exercises can be modified for all fitness levels and impairments.
Exercise 1—Spider push-ups
Exercise 2—Split jumps
Exercise 3—Full-body sit-up and press
Exercise 4—Horizontal pull-ups
Exercise 5—KB push-up and squat
Exercise 6—Holding pull-up and leg raises
Exercise 8—Alternating DB curl to press
To view a video of all 8 of these exercises, please visit YouTube channel “activedgefit.”
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