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Exercise for Busy Women: Exercise Smarter not Shorter written by Tom Fitzgerald
One of the hardest parts of exercising can be finding the time to do it. To combat this, short, time-based workouts are being increasingly marketed, particularly to busy women. It started with 7-minute abs, but now includes Tabata training, the high intensity interval training (HIIT) and many other short and high-intensity training methods.
These training systems are intense, build fitness and are thereby time-effective however, they don’t always match the users goal. They often lack a strength component and rarely provide the required stimulus for muscle development and tone. As a result, users are investing significant time, energy and effort into their exercise regime, without ever getting the body composition results they truly want.
There is a better way to achieve these body composition results and it is more efficient. Efficiency needs to be measured by more than the duration of the workout. Let’s consider that you have to travel to the gym, warm up, cool down, shower and travel back to your home or office. This can add up to at least 45-minutes and that doesn’t even include the workout!
Regardless of whether your session takes 15-minutes or 45-minutes, there is still going to be a significant portion of your day invested into the training session. I’d much rather you go to the gym three times per week for a 45-minute session. Over the course of a week, three 45 minute sessions (+45 mins added time) is more time-efficient than five 15-minute sessions (+45 mins added time)!
If you want to train less, you need to do more in your sessions and train smarter and body recomposition training is the ideal training methodology for these goals. Body recomposition training encompasses a focus on strength, muscle development and fat-burning, all within each session. This methodology is based on exercise science and physiology principles, with each component of the training session being strategically placed to take advantage of these principles.
The session beings with a strength emphasis. Strength training is best conducted early in a session, where fatigue will not impair neural performance. This also allows the trainee to progressively move heavier loads and increase general strength.
The second component is muscle development. Moderate repetitions (10-16 reps) with moderate weights and short recovery periods are used to accumulate fatigue in the muscles. This metabolic accumulation recruits satellite cells to the area, which are important for the development of muscle tissue.
The final component is a fat-burning focus. High-intensity training (strength and muscle development) release epinephrine and nor-epinephrine into the blood stream. These hormones assist in the mobilisation of fatty acids into the bloodstream for potential use a fuel source.
Fatty acids are preferentially used as a fuel source at intensities below 65% maximal. By completing steady-state cardio for 15 minutes at 60-65% maximal intensity, you can maximise the proportion of oxidised fatty acids, compared to higher intensity training. This body recomposition training is highly effective. I have used these methodologies exclusively with my clients for the past 15 months and I can assure you of their effectiveness. The best thing is, there is no gimmick or fad diet to sell here – just science.
To build you own body recomposition workout, you can follow the guidelines below.
1. Strength training
5 sets of 6-8 reps
Recovery for 1.5 minutes
Compound movements – squat, push up/bench press, pull up, deadlift
2. Muscle development
4 exercises (2 of two different muscle groups ie. chest and back)
3 sets of 12-14 reps and super-set with 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Compound movement super-set with isolation movement for same body part (ie. dumbbell press super set with dumbbell fly)
Recovery for 1 minute between super sets
10-15 minutes of steady state cardio
Treadmill walking, cycling, rowing, elliptical
Intensity at 60-65% of maximal. You should be able to talk – just!
Try this training methodology with three weekly sessions for 6-8 weeks. You will get more out of each training session, as each session has a well-constructed plan and outline. You will also be more efficient over the course of the week. Winning both ways – you have to like that!
Summary and take home points:
Shorter exercise sessions are not necessarily more efficient. Focus on training to meet your goals and get the most out of every training session.
Body recomposition training includes strength, muscle development and fat burning components in a sequence designed to maximise adaptation.
Three well-constructed training sessions each week is sufficient for beginner-intermediate level people. Avoid the temptation to do too many sessions, too soon.
Author of this article:
Tom Fitzgerald is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer based in Canberra. He specialises in body recomposition for busy clients and developing personalised training and nutrition programs to suit client’s goals, experience and lifestyle. Tom has B. Sports & Exercise Science and a B. Human Nutrition and has completed research and studies in Australia, UK and US. Tom is also an average cook – so listen when he outlines what to eat, but don’t let him tell you how to make it!