Four keys to a smooth transition back into the groove once the COVID-19 lockdown has passed and the economy is open.
1. Micro Bursts:
Micro Bursts are short bursts of activity. They can range in time from a few seconds to a minute. Anything over a minute is pushing it.
The great thing about micro burst exercises is that you can do without even going to the gym.
Micro-burst exercises are short, fun, and very effective way of increasing your health and fitness.
The basis for an effective micro burst exercise is intensity. By now, it is well known, and generally accepted, that short high intensity interval training (HIIT) can be just as effective, if not more effective, as much longer workouts. Studies of short high inensity workouts have shown improvements in markers of cardiovascular health, metabolic capacity, and aerobic fitness that often exceed those seen in continuous moderate-intensity exercise.
One of my all time favorite micro burst exercises is short sprints. There is a saying:
If you want to lose fat and lose muscle then run long distances. If you want to burn fat and build muscle then do short sprints
And more than one fitness expert has made this declaration:
If you could only do one thing then sprint
Sprinting, like other high intensity exercises, is a great way to get boost your endurance and energy while burning fat and building muscle.
2. Resistance (bands):
We don't always have the luxury of being able to do high intensity exercises. Let's face it, high intensity can be sweaty, noisy, and messy. Fortunately, adding resistance to your exercise can simulate high intensity without all the mess. For example, running uphill delivers many of the same benefits as sprinting, without as much risk of injury like pulled hamstrings and joint pain. Of course, proper warmups and running form is important regardless.
There are many ways to add resistance into your fitness routine even if you are not in the gym. Try using milk jugs filled with water. Sometimes, I'll add magazines to my computer bag and use it as a kettlebell. On a phone call recently, one of the participants shared that she was working out with bags of potatoes. Of course, lets not forget about you. You, or rather your body weight, is another great form of readily available resistance. Keep in mind, that even for very short micro bursts exercise, you still need to warm up properly.
Of all the different forms of resistance my favorite is to use resistance bands. Unlike free weights, resistance bands offer a gradually increasing level of resistance throughout the entire range motion of your exercise. This is the opposite of many free, or machine, weight exercises where the resisting force is often at its greatest early in the movement when we are most succeptible to injury. This point of maximum resistance, early in the exercise movement, is called the sticking point. Anyone who has ever pulled or tore a pectoral muscle on the bench press is all to aware of the sticking point in the bench press. Conversely, resistance band exercises do not typically have a stickng point and instead they provide a more gradual and safe increase of resistance throughout then entire exercise.
Professional, and high performance, athletes also work out with resistance bands to improve their accleration, and athletic performance, by taking advantage of how resistance bands require a increase in applied force through the entire range of motion. In 2017, I set an American Record in Masters Track and Field, and that year 95% of my fitness routine was done in my office, using resistance bands in several 1-to-2 minute micro burst workouts through out the day.
3. Muscle confusion:
Another important benefit of resistance bands is their versatility.
Gyms have a variety of equipment but even at the larger gyms, at some point, you are limited to the equipment available. However, with a little creativity you have an unlimited number of micro-burst exercises with resistance bands that you can do anywhere; at home, in the office, on the road. Exercise names like umpire squats, lawn mowers, hulksmash, and chicken wings are just a few of the over 200 resistance band, micro-burst exercises that are part of our NERDbody fitness program that we do right in our office.
4. Whole body:
To get the most out of your micro burst, resistance band exercises incorporate your entire body. Personally, I like to simulate movements from Yoga, Tai Chi, Boxing, and Qi Gong Flow into my resistance band workouts. We also incorporate dance moves into our micro-burst exercises. Dance is proven way to exercise your brain, your body and your brain-body connection.
While a whole body approach to exercise is good for you physically, numerous studies show that learning new moves while exercising also has big benefits for your mental powers and cognitive abilities.
One super simple trick to incorporating a whole body approach is to stand on one leg while exercising. As an example, I will often do single arm presses with my resistance bands by standing on one end of my band with one foot and then pressing the other end of the band with my opposite hand. By doing this, I engage across body approach and use my muscles in new and different ways.
There you have it 4 keys to getting in great shape when things open back up and even before then.