Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Can Do Anything For A Minute

When I first started working out, it seemed so hard to me. I remember quite clearly how awkward everything felt. The simplest things that always came so natural as a child was suddenly strained and difficult... even breathing during exercise seemed labored and unnatural.

I live pretty close to a park and took a walk the other day stopping to watch some kids play. In the few minutes I watched these kids, I noticed some pretty amazing things that shed some light on my own workouts.

The first thing I noticed was how happy they looked. It hit me that I feel that way now when I exercise, but when I first started I complained... A LOT and had very little structure, no plan and very little enjoyment! The second thing I noticed was that when they ran, it was 'all out'. When children run, it's in short bursts and sometimes (seemingly) for no reason at all. And finally, I noticed that when they are playing hard their breathing seems normal. Certainly they are breathing heavy, but their breathing isn't labored. They recover their breath quickly and off they go again to run and skip and play. It's almost as if they have energy "bursts" from minute to minute until all those minutes combine and almost fly by. So THAT'S why I am loving my workouts!!!

I can do anything for one minute and that's exactly how I approach my workouts. Whether I'm weight training or doing aerobics, I time it all. I now prescribe to the Body For Life method of health-building and, after watching these kids, know why it works for me. I want to focus on the 20 minute aerobic solution from Body For Life for the purpose of this blog post though because this is what really stood out the day at the park. My 20 minute workout flies by and I think this is why. First, I listen to music that I love; to me there is NOTHING more motivating. I can be completely down in the dumps and hear a great song with an upbeat tempo and I'm ready to move! Then, I start my 2 minute warm up pace. This applies to ANY aerobic workout whether working on a machine or just taking a walk around the neighborhood. Start slow to give your body time to "ready itself" for the workout. The third minute increase your intensity to a moderate pace, the fourth increase intensity slightly, the fifth increase again, the sixth minute increase one more time. The sixth minute should feel a little intense. You should feel the sweat starting to bead and your breathing should be quicker. Push yourself to hold that intensity through that WHOLE SIXTH MINUTE. That completes the 2 minute warm up AND the FIRST AEROBIC set. But I said my workout was 20 minutes? Yep, that leads me to set two where I repeat the intensity that I used for minutes three through six exactly for minutes seven through through ten (set two). I do it all again for minutes eleven through fourteen (set three) and fifteen through eighteen (set four) completing 4 total aerobic sets. Then I finish with increasing my intensity to my highest point for minute 19. This minute is the only minute that I feel like I may not finish (and sometimes don't but ALWAYS try), right before dropping down to the intensity I used for minutes one and two for minute 20, also known as the cool down minute. This is how it looks:


Here's the link to see this graph up close. You can also read all about the Body for Life program in the Body for Life book that always seems to be on sale at Barnes and Noble. To me, this program is the most ingenious method for getting in shape. I steadily increase for four minutes just to drop down and "recover" and then start it all over again. Like I said, "I can do ANYTHING for a minute!" Watch the kids in your neighborhood... I know this program will make sense to you too! :)

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