Last week I saw a report on the ABC about the growing prevalence of overweight or obese kids in Australia, and it sparked a lot of angry thoughts! As one my areas of passion is seeing healthy active kids!
The stats, as you can imagine, are scary: Back in 2000, approximately 20% of teenagers were overweight or obese, now its 25% and a study conducted by the Victorian Dept of Hman Services predicts that this number will increase to 33% by 2025 (Future prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australian children and adolescents, 2005-2025 Department of Human Services, March 2008)
The consequences are sad and cruel: greater prevalence of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, a whole range of cancers, and mental health issues.
The reasons are both staggering, yet unsurprising:
The study reported on by the ABC was conducted by the Cancer Council and National Heart Foundation, and it revealed teens were spending too much time in front of the television with 58 per cent of students having at least three televisions in their home and 40 per cent with video games in their bedrooms. 75% of teenagers were spending more than two hours in front of screens (for school work or entertainment). A huge 82% are not engaging in more than 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
So what are we going to do about this sad state of affairs? All this takes me back to a paper I was privileged enough to co-author a few years ago. It showed that not only are both adults and children under active, but that the association between parents and their kids’ physical activity is decreasing. So the behaviour modelling strength of parents’ activity is influencing kids less! While the reason why is unclear; my guess is that its due to our changing behaviour patterns. We just don’t see as many families going for walks or bike rides together. You don’t see as many dads kicking the footy with their kids. Now we go to the gym or social sport on the way to or from work, and we are ‘done’ by the time we get home. So while we may be active, our kids don’t see us being active, so they don’t learn from our exercise behaviours!
So lets get out with our kids more. Even when I’m being active on my own, I try to make a point of telling my kids how much I enjoyed my run or bike ride around Adelaide’s beautiful trails!
Martin M, Dollman J, Norton K, Robertson, I. (2005) A decrease in the association between the physical activity patterns of Australian parents and their children; 1985-1997, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 8(1): 71-76.
Have you ever wondered how long you need to work out for to get results? Well, the good news for you is that its not all that long. Enter the perfect short workout
Hi, my name is Hunter, and I am a recovering meathead.
For the longest time, I trained in the gym 5-6 times per week for a minimum of 60 minutes per session. I guzzled protein shakes, wore singlets, and made sure to consume 200 grams of protein per day, every single day.
And I was pretty cool
Or maybe I mean moronic?
Yeah, definitely moronic…
See, I honestly thought that to maximize the results of your training, you needed to exercise hard all the time. That your sessions had to be long and grueling. That if you didn’t leave the gym in a pool of sweat and muscle spasms, it was a wasted workout.
Why am I telling you all of this.
Well, I guess the first thing is to demonstrate that people can change.
I mean, kind of, anyway.
You see, I no longer train quite so long in the gym (or so often, for that matter). I eat a little less protein, and heaps more veggies. My protein shake intake is markedly less.
Oh, and save my singlets for festival season only now.
But the main reason I am telling you this is to outline something that I have learnt over the last few years.
Your training sessions do not have to last an hour to be effective.
I honestly used to think that if I couldn’t get into the gym for at least an hour, then there was no point going at all. I believed that for a workout to elicit any sort of training effect, it needed to break you down so that you could be built back up again.
Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
How long do you need to work out for?
I have since come to realize that doing something is always better than doing nothing.
I now know that you can make some serious change in as little as 20 minutes (or even less) if you do it right.
When implemented effectively, a short workout can give you the opportunity to improve technique, stress your aerobic system, and even increase your strength.
The trick is to prioritizing what you do in that 20 minutes to meet your individual goals and your individual needs.
The Perfect Short workout.
With all this in mind, I have put together a couple of really quick workouts that will take you 20 minutes to complete. Each of these are tailored to a specific training goal, and are easily adaptable. This means that you can make them suit your individual capabilities and preferences.
Seriously, what more could you want?
The Perfect Short Workout for Strength
This one is great.
To start, you are going to choose three exercises from the table below (one lower body exercise, one upper body pressing exercise, and one upper body rowing exercise).
|Lower Body Exercises||Upper Body Pressing||Upper Body Rowing|
- Trap bar deadlift
- Front squat
- Back squat
- Barbell deadlift
- Goblet Squat
- Kettlebell deadlift
- Bench press
- Push up
- Overhead press
- Seated shoulder press
- Incline press
- Push press
- Chin ups
- Inverted row
- TRX row
- Seated cable row
- Bent over row
- Pull ups
You are then going to perform those exercises using a moderately heavy weight for five repetitions each, in circuit style fashion for a grand total of 20 minutes. Within this, make sure you take 20-30 seconds rest between each exercise.
For example, I might choose to do a barbell deadlift, weighted push ups, and pull ups.
My session would then look something like this.
- Deadlift x 5 repetitions
- 30 seconds rest
- Weighed push up x 5 repetitions
- 30 seconds rest
- Pull Up x 5 repetitions
- 30 seconds rest
I would then try and perform as many rounds as I possible could in 20 minutes.
The Perfect Short Workout for Technique
If there is an exercise that you have been working on for a while (and really want to get better at), then this is for you.
Simply choose that specific exercise, and perform 10 repetitions using a light weight. The take 30-40 seconds to do some gentle core work.
Then repeat this entire process for a total of 20 minutes.
Say hypothetically I wanted to improve my front squat, my workout might look like this:
- Front squat (light weight) x 10 repetitions
- Very gentle fitball roll outs x 30 seconds
I would then repeat this for 20 minutes, trying to get in as many rounds as i could in that time.
The Perfect Short Workout for Aerobic Fitness
I have written about the merits of high intensity interval training (or HIIT for you cool kids) in the past, so I wont go into too much detail here.
What I do want to discuss is the fact that it allows you to get in a super effective aerobic workout in a very short amount of time.
In fact, a performing a simple 20 minute interval workout twice per week has been shown to cause comparable improvements in health and fitness to a couple of hours of low intensity cardio.
In short, it works.
Now, one of my favorite protocols is super simple and super effective — although I must admit, its can be a bit of challenge (in a good way, of course…).
Pick your favorite
form of torture piece of equipment and simply go at around 80% of your max speed for a whole 60 seconds. After that 60 seconds is up, go at a nice leisurely pace for another 60 seconds.
Repeat 10 times, for a grand total of 20 minutes.
As a bonus, you could do this on a rower, a bike, a treadmill, or even with some battle ropes
The Perfect Short Workout for Mobility
Last but not least, we are going to go over a nice short workout that prioritizes mobility.
Like the strength circuit, you are simply going to choose three exercises from the table below (two lower body mobility exercises, and one upper body mobility exercise).
|Lower Body Exercise 1||Lower Body Exercise 2||Upper Body Exercise|
- TRX squat
- Deep goblet squat
- Lateral TRX lunge
- Cossack squat
- Bulgarian split squat (deep)
- Split squat with front foot elevated
- Reverse Lunge with front foot elevated
- Side lying thoracic rotation
- Yoga push up
- Single arm cable row with rotation
You are then going to perform these movements with a very light weight (or even using your body weight) for 12 repetitions each back to back in a circuit style fashion for a grand total of… you guessed it… 20 minutes!
For example, I might choose to do a Cossack squat, a Deep Bulgarian Split Squat, and some Side lying thoracic rotations.
Then my session would then look something like this.
- Deep Cossack squat x 12 repetitions
- Deep Bulgarian split squat x 12 repetitions per side
- Side lying thoracic rotations x 12 repetitions per side
I would then try and perform as many rounds as I possible could in that 20 minute bout.
The important thing to remember here is that every single rep needs to be of a high quality. It should be slow and controlled, and each subsequent set you should be aiming to achieve more range of motion than you did for the set that came before it.
As a result, at the end of the circuit you should be blowing a bit, and feel nice and mobile.
This is the perfect workout to burn some energy and improve your movement capabilities.
Take Home Message
Your workout doesn’t have to last hours on end to be effective. In fact, you can see some serious results from your training in as little as 20 minutes.
So next time you are short on time, give one of these guys a go and let me know what you think.
About The Author
Couple stretching in Park – Moving well to Move more!
If I could wave a magic wand, and make exercise feel easy for you; if you knew you were going to feel light, agile, nimble – would you want to do more of it??
60% of our population (an average figure across many ‘western’ countries) is inactive… I don’t think that this is because people intrinsically dislike movement! I think we lose our joy of movement at some stage, maybe it’s not a clearly defined line in the sand, but that change certainly happens… after all, we can all see the faces of kids when they are in the full blown joy of movement, right? when they are running after a ball, or jumping into a pool… so what happens? why do we stop to enjoy that movement, that used to give us so much happiness once upon a time?
I think the answer is that it has become hard to move.
One way or the other, it just doesn’t flow anymore does it?! There’s less time for it; it just seems like hard work. Maybe there’s fear of pain, or fear of an injury. Perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that we may stink after sweating (!) and the process of being ‘presentable’ again is too hard…
We all know the benefits of exercise right? So information is not the answer either… so can I challenge you to explore the FUN you used to have when you allowed your body to gain full flight?
I strongly believe that one of the keys to wanting to move more is being able to move better! It’s about putting it in the right order. Think about it for a sec… if you move well, then movement is all of a sudden easier. Things ‘connect better’. There’s less pain; less effort. There’s more power! More strength! More agility! More CAPACITY.
The key to moving more, what ever your motivation, is to move better. From there we can start to set new goals! Such as being able to re-join that sporting club you loved; being able to run around with the (grand)kids without fear of not being able to move tomorrow! or perhaps you want to run your first marathon, or climb a high peak… Or do a tumble turn again!! what ever that goal, let us help you put things in the right order, set up the right process for you to move better – so you can move more!!
If you would like to learn more about Max Martin or if you would like to read more of his blogs, click here!