Good afternoon, movers and shakers! The purpose of today's Fitness Friday post is to share one of my absolute favorite workouts in my repertoire. But before I give you the play-by-play of how to do it, I want to discuss a concept known as the afterburn effect. Without rambling on about the scientific masterpiece that is the human body, let's just summarize by saying that the afterburn effect describes the hours upon hours that your body continues to burn calories AFTER a workout. This can work against you if you've ever overexerted your muscles and paid for it the next day by waking up to a stiff, sore body, but you can use it (comfortably!) to your advantage and I'm going to show you how.
Basically, the best way to keep your body working long after you've completed any exercise is to go as hard as you can. This could mean running at an all-out sprint rather than a casual jog or completing a vigorous weight-lifting session. But if that sounds exhausting and just reading about "giving it all you've got" makes you want to turn the other way, I get it. I enjoy exercise, but I also enjoy comfort and I've never bought into the philosophy that you have to punish yourself to be fit. I exercise for pleasure and for the health benefits, but I'm no athlete. Luckily for folks like us, the afterburn effect can also be achieved by completing various workouts with high-intensity intervals spaced between less intense "rest" periods.
In my pursuit of a healthy weight and lifestyle over the years, this has become one of my favorite workouts for two reasons. 1) It's fun! I often find myself smiling when I'm doing the high-intensity portions of this workout because the bursts of running make me feel like a kid again. 2) It's fairly low-impact. I'm no runner, so long-distance training is not my focus. However, I find that when I run in short bursts with rests in between, it doesn't feel like a chore. Are you ready? Lace up your running shoes and let's move!
The Burst Workout
Minutes 0-2: Warm up by walking at 4 mph with your hands on the rails of the treadmill or resting at your sides.
Minutes 2-4: Power walk, still at 4 mph but with your arms pumping as if you were running.
Minute 4-5: RUN FOR IT! Up your pace to 5 mph and run for a full 60 seconds.
Minute 5-6: Walk at 4 mph with arms resting.
Minutes 6-9: Power walk at 4 mph.
Minute 9-10: Run at 5 mph.
Minute 10-11: Walk at 4 mph with arms resting.
Minutes 11-14: Power walk at 4 mph.
Minute 14-15: Run at 5 mph.
Minute 15-16: Walk at 4 mph with arms resting.
Minutes 16-19: Power walk at 4 mph.
Minute 19-20: Run at 5 mph.
Minute 20-21: Walk at 4 mph with arms resting.
Minutes 21-24: Power walk at 4 mph.
Minute 24-25: Run at 5 mph.
Minute 25-26: Walk at 4 mph with arms resting.
Minutes 26-29: Power walk at 4 mph.
Minute 29-30: This the the grand finale! Sprint at 5.5 mph (or as fast as you can go) for a full 60 seconds.
DONE! You crossed the finish line, and the crowd is going wild. You are a superstar!
It may seem very involved when I list every step minute-by-minute, but you will notice a pattern after the first 10 minutes and it will all come very naturally. For example, at the end of each running burst you will instinctively want to rest your arms at your sides, walk for a spell, and cool off a bit. I also make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the workout, and the resting minutes are a great time to go for a refreshing guzzle of cool water.
This exercise is most easily completed on a treadmill so you can track your time and pace (I unfold my treadmill in the living room and watch movies while I work out, a routine a highly recommend because it makes the time pass quickly), but if you don't have access to a treadmill you can also do this exercise in the great outdoors with a little help from a stopwatch, pedometer, or an app on your phone to help you keep up with the time and speed. The greatest thing about this afterburn workout and that you don't actually feel it after the fact. You can go about your day while your body remains hard at work burning excess calories and fat. I also find it very energizing and refreshing, so I typically feel an elevated mood setting in right after I finish. The next time you feel up to it, set aside a half hour to bring a burst of sunshine into your day.
Have a happy weekend!