There is good news for those of us who don’t want to spend 90% of our downtime in a fitness studio: it’s possible that shorter workouts could actually help us hit our fitness goals. Can just four minutes of burst training achieve the results or an hour-long studio session? According to leading women’s health expert and bestselling author, Dr. Sara Gottfried, it’s possible that burst training could be more aligned with our bodies’ needs. Explore below, try it this week and leaf through Dr. Sara’s Brain Body Diet for more…
Cavemen and women tended to exercise in bursts: a quick run to the river to fetch water and carry a bucket back to the tribe, a jog with a sick infant to a neighbor’s dwelling for help. How else would they survive? Our bodies perform well with burst training, followed by exercise at a moderate intensity for one to three minutes.
Protocols for burst training vary — use one that makes the most sense for you. Burst training can be applied to cardio exercise (e.g., intermittently sprinting on a trail alternating with a jog) or weight lifting (lifting a weight, such as with a biceps curl, as many times as you can with good form for one minute, followed by one minute of rest). Here are three examples of burst-training routines:
Walking three minutes fast (approximately 6 or 7 on an exertion scale from 1 to 10, or the green zone of 70 to 80 percent of your maximal exertion), then alternating with three minutes at a normal pace.
Chi running with sprint intervals, or regular running with 30-second sprints. Learn more about chi running.
Riding a stationary bike or elliptical trainer, alternating two to three minutes at a moderate pace with one to two minutes at maximal pace for you.
The Benefits Of Burst Training
Aerobic exercise boosts neurogenesis, the ongoing growth and development of new nerve cells (neurons), which contribute to functions like memory, emotional regulation and memory.
Improves longevity. I like aerobic exercise at the end of my intermittent fasting window, so that I’m regulating both mTOR and SIRT1, two important longevity genes.
Reduces cardiovascular disease, inflammation and makes you more stress-resilient.
Balances hormones. Putting your muscles to work also helps benefit the endocrine system. We’re learning that muscle serves as another endocrine organ that plays a key role in metabolism by talking to other organs (such as the fat tissue, brain and liver) and, most certainly, by releasing hormones.
Exercise releases two key hormones: cortisol (via corticosteroid releasing hormone) and growth hormone. These are critical to power our organs and help your response to stress and both keep belly fat in check. Yet, in large amounts, both hormones lead the body astray:
+ CRH increases the permeability or leakiness of the intestinal wall, as well as the permeability of the lungs, skin and blood-brain barrier.
+ High cortisol also alters tight junctions between cells so that small harmful substances may pass through the barrier, reduces gut motility, blocks digestion, blunts blood flow to the gut and lessens mucus production, an important immune function.
Exercise might be the best growth hormone (GH) booster. Don’t think a 20-minute stroll on your elliptical machine will cut it. Increasing GH in order to build up muscle demands intensity. Burst training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is your GH-boosting ticket. Studies show HIIT proves incredibly effective to reduce fat, improve insulin sensitivity and build more muscle. You can help your GH by adding in burst training, which gives you great results in less time. Ideally, you’ll want to combine a HIIT workout with weight resistance to optimize GH and other hormonal levels, like testosterone.