The Secret to Losing Fat?
Crank up the intensity
by Phil Campbell, M.S., M.S., FACHE
Exciting new discoveries by biomedical researchers in the areas of health and anti-aging have begun to usher in a new paradigm in fitness training.
Research shows that high-intensity, anaerobic workouts that include the short-burst, get-you-out-of-breath, sprinting types of exercise, will make your body release significant amounts of the most powerful "fitness hormone" in your body -- growth hormone, or HGH.
As children, HGH makes us grow taller. When we reach our full height, however, this hormone actually changes roles. As adults, HGH doesn't make us grow. It cuts body fat and trims inches. HGH thus becomes the "fitness hormone" for middle-age and older adults.
Short, Fast and Anaerobic
show that HGH can be increased by as much as 530 percent through sprinting
activities. Anaerobic sprint workouts can be done in many different ways
-- running, swimming, cycling, cross-country skiing, even power walking.
If your favorite cardio machine -- stepper, elliptical, cycle or treadmill
-- will get you out of breath by pumping hard and fast, it will get the
Sprint 8 Workout
The basic workout is the Sprint 8 Workout, which is performed by running.
After a 10-minute warm up that includes some 30-second stretch-hold positions for the hamstrings and Achilles, begin the first of eight 60-meter (70-yard) sprints. You can mark off 70 yards on a 100-yard football field or track or just sprint mailbox to mailbox.
Sprinting doesn't mean running "all out." It means running hard enough to get you out of breath on each sprint. The first sprint should be at 30 percent speed (a little faster than jogging). During the sprint, progressively move toward 50 percent speed/intensity. On the second sprint, start at 35 percent speed and progressively move toward 55 percent speed. To avoid injury, it's important to spend at least 10 yards slowing down.
After each sprint, walk -- don't jog -- back to the starting line. Walking enables you to recover so you can put more intensity into the next sprint. Spend at least 1.5 minutes (but no more than two minutes) walking and recovering between each sprint.
Whatever you do, don't do this!
Don't start with a hard, all-out sprint. While anaerobic fitness training is clearly the most productive type of training, it's also the most dangerous. Hamstring pulls are a primary target. Anyone with a heart condition or medical problem should get a physician's clearance before performing anaerobic exercise. Even young athletes should progressively ease into sprinting workouts. It takes at least eight weeks to progressively build your fast-twitch muscle fiber. The goal is to go hard enough and fast enough (without pulling anything) to get totally out of breath on each sprint. If it takes more than 30 seconds to get out of breath, you'll need to find a way to raise the intensity.
Sprint 8 Workout
The Sprint 8 Workout can be performed by cycling outside or at the gym. The recumbent bike is a favorite for those with bad knees and back problems.
ride something that supports your body weight, it typically lessens the
intensity. You'll need to ride just a little longer than if you were running.
However, if your sprint lasts more than 30 seconds, the intensity level
needs to be increased or you may miss the anaerobic threshold. For example,
pedaling 20 to 30 seconds on a recumbent bike is equal to running 70 yards
in sprints in 8 to 12 seconds.
Pool Sprint 8 Workout
hard and fast for 25 meters, then swimming easily for 25 meters, is similar
to running the Sprint 8 workout. Make every swim sprint a little more
intense than the previous one.
Cross-country Skiing Sprint 8 Workout
you're cross-country skiing in the mountains or in your gym on an elliptical
trainer, the same principles apply -- high action sprinting for 30 seconds
followed by an easy pace for 1.5 minutes.
Power Walking Sprint 8 Workout
can also enable you to reach the anaerobic threshold. Walk hard and fast
for 30 seconds with long strides and animated arm swings. Carrying weights
will help add intensity. If you find that 30 seconds of hard walking does
not get you winded, raise the elevation.
Don't Throw Away the Yoga Mat
flexibility though stretching and other less intense forms of exercise
will not release HGH. However, you'll need flexibility and strength to
perform your anaerobic workouts. So don't throw away the yoga mat or stop
weight-training. Simply add an anaerobic Sprint 8 Workout to your fitness
plan. You'll unleash the most powerful body-fat-cutting, muscle-toning,
anti-middle-aging substance known in science!
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Phil Campbell is the
author of "Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness for Time-Crunched Adults"
Library of Medicine. Website link: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Sonksen. (2000). "Growth Hormone-hormone replacement for the somatopause."
Horm Res 2000:53 Suppl 3:37-41. PMID: 10971102. Website link:
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