How many of you have shown up to workout and looked at the whiteboard and thought that the workout was too short? That something must be missing? How can a 3-4 minute workout help me lose body fat and gain muscle?
Here is the thing: results come with intensity (or quality), not with an amount of time (quantity). Doing more, whether that is working out for 2 hours instead of 30 minutes of hard work or doing extra cardio or strength work to go along with the WOD, doesn’t always mean we will get the results that we want. Intensity is the key to this puzzle.
So what exactly is intensity? Intensity is how hard you are working, but this varies person to person, as it’s relative to you and where you’re at with your fitness. Think about it like this: I run 400m in 2 minutes, but the fastest I can run 400m is in 1 minute. The 2 min 400m wasn’t very challenging for me and didn’t push me physiologically. If I don’t push my body physiologically, then it’s more difficult for changes I want to occur. 2 minutes is, in fact, longer than 1 minute, but the 1 min was an all-out effort. This will physiologically challenge my body, which will promote the changes that I’m trying to make.
Another key to the puzzle is consistency. To bring intensity, you have to show up. You can not get upset with yourself for not reaching your goals if you aren’t showing up to do the work required.
You may hear that spending more time at a lower heart rate or targeting a heart rate zone is the best way to lose body fat. And while it's true that a lower, relatively steady heart rate is more likely to target fat stores during exercise than a shorter, higher intensity workout, it's just that–only during exercise. The metabolic effects stop directly after your workout ends.
However, performing a workout at a higher intensity requires your body to use more energy after exercise to recover than it would for lower intensity, longer duration workout. Higher intensity workouts help to spike your metabolism, which can stay elevated for up to 24 hours after a workout.
By being consistent and bringing the correct intensity to workouts, you will continue to get fit and the results will come.
So is this to say that all your workouts should be performed at 100% intensity? No. 20-minute AMRAPS are never meant to be sprints (maybe the last minute). You need to bring the relative intensity needed to complete the workout to get the intended stimulus. I know some of you prefer not doing the short and quick workouts, but when done with the correct intensity, they are still awesome workouts! Keep these things in mind each time you come to the gym.