I watched a video this morning by Joseph Mercola, M.D. that answered some questions that I have been having about my workouts. For most of my life I have been doing long slow distance training. When I was younger I did mostly running. Inspired by Kenneth Cooper, M.D., I started running and kept it up for many years doing several marathons. I switched to cycling many years ago, but continued to do mainly long slowish distances (LSD) and have completed many century bike rides.
In early July of this year, I began to feel burned out by the constant LSD training. I also felt like I was losing upper body muscle mass by not exercising these muscles on a regular basis. So, I returned to the gym and have been doing 3-4 times per week intense strength training workouts per week, while continuing my bike training, but at a much less frequent rate....2-3 times per week. The strength training and higher intensity workouts were a nice change and I felt that I was beginning to build up my upper body muscles, and becoming more generally fit. My conclusion is that I need to do both LSD and more intense training, especially muscle building exercises on a regular basis.
The Mercola videos presented an approach to exercise that I have never done before. The program involves short workouts that include 8 intervals of very hard sprints that would get my heart rate way up to 160 bpm or so. Each hard interval would be followed by a rest period. The theory is that these hard sprints lasting 30 seconds each boost the production of growth hormone that burns fat both during and for 2 hours following this intense exercise session. Short periods of intense exercise also have the beneficial effect of building up the fast twitch muscle fibers that contribute to overall strength and power. Dr. Mercola recommends doing this workout 3 times per week. Each session would last 20 minutes with 4 minutes of very intense sprinting. The exercise routine is based upon the book Ready, Set, Go Synergy Fitness by Phil Graham. Below is a video that demonstrates this approach.
The routine is done on a stationary recumbent trainer. I have a Vision Fitness recumbent trainer in my home gym. I checked and found that my trainer has an built in program for the Sprint 8 workout, so it will be easy for me to get started with these workouts. I am going to try this for a few weeks and will report back about my impressions of the workout.