Intervals/Less Is Best

It is a myth that your body burns fat only on long-slow distance training days. The more intense your training, the more calories your body burns. Run ten miles in two hours and you burn about the same number of calories running that same ten miles in one hour. But when you speed up to ten m.p.h., you continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate allowing you to watch the football game you would have missed had you been walking a five m.p.h. pace.

You lose body fat when you burn more calories than you take in. The more calories burned, the more pounds shed. Researchers at the Human Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh found another benefit to high intensity training. Twelve runners who ran on treadmills for an hour, first at sixty percent of their maximum and then at seventy-five percent, had a higher level of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) following the higher-intensity workout.

If you choose a slow pace, you must spend more time per session or train more days per week. You can accelerate your fat burning by spending less time training. When you work out, less is more. If you work out at a higher intensity, you spend less time exercising. It is truly a paradox; but to get the most bang for your buck and increase the productivity of your workout, shorten your routine. But go faster.

Seventy-mile-a-week runners cut their mileage in half, allowing them to run faster and develop fewer running-related injuries.Modern body-builders have changed their programs from two-hour, high-volume training to an hour of high-intensity single-set-to-failure routines. Top level power lifters spend only fifteen minutes actually hoisting iron. Powering your program is as much mental as physical. Mental preparation is crucial to increase the intensity of your workouts. A high level of arousal is required for high-intensity training. Switching from long-slow distance, high-volume to speedy, high-intensity requires discipline. Recently professional athletes have been reprimanded for using stimulants to create this heightened state. If you feel sluggish or too relaxed, you cannot power-up. Before heading out the door, visualize explosiveness. But be sure to warm up for five to ten minutes. Gradually increase your intensity until you reach a steady state. Then go hard and fast, approaching your anaerobic threshold (AT). AT is the level of effort just below where the muscles suffer a large increase in debilitating lactic acid.

If you proceed beyond your AT, you will feel lactic acid searing through your muscles. Monitor your breathing and heart rate. Correlate these with your Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to bring out your best. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is a subjective gauge developed by Borg to prevent overtraining -- a yardstick for training and performance.

The Borg Scale utilizes a twenty point scale:
"7" is very, very light.
"17" is very hard (beyond anaerobic threshold).
"19" is extremely hard, an almost all-out performance.

Your RPE will be slightly uncomfortable as you push closer to your AT. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Soon your RPE will be your indicator for increasing your steady state to approach your AT.

Increased intensity will force you to use Type II, fast-twitch muscle fibers you never knew existed. Recruiting these muscle fibers requires more rest between workouts. Taking a rest day may allow you to train harder the day after. If you love to work out and you train every time you get the chance and you are unsure whether you are over-training, you probably are.

Lackadaisical, grunt-and-groan, mindless training is history. Instead, stay focused. Rather than plodding through long-slow distance training sessions, try sprinting with your Aquajogger. No longer should you wonder, "Why am I doing this?" You will be stronger, faster, and carry less body fat if you increase your intensity.

Be careful. Lack of planning leads to a wandering style, pulling you back to your comfortable, slow pace. Keep a record of workouts. Develop a goal for intensity. Without a plan, you may get lazy and train slower. Within a few weeks you inadvertently fall back into your high-volume, less-productive training.

This being said, there is nothing wrong with a one-day-a-week, ultra-distance, nature stroll. However, following a few months of power-training, it's hard to slow down. It is difficult to let go of newfound intensity. You naturally work harder and smarter. When you slack off, you feel lazy.