Do one explosive workout this week.
Why to do it?
By an explosive work out, I mean one which requires you to use a vast amount of energy really quickly. Think something like sprinting (on land or swimming), running up stairs or even trying to do 100 burpees in under 10 minutes, or push a car 100m as fast as possible. Why? There are a load of benefits to doing this kind of exercise:
- Great for burning fat – Going for a long gentle run will obviously burn fat, but doing a few short and intense sprints increase fat oxidation by 75%1 – showing a massive increase in the amount of energy being used from fat.
- Increases mitochondria2 – Mitochondria are essentially the power stations of our cells. The more we have, the more energy a cell can produce. Not only is this great for improving physical performance, but there are a number of diseases (such as Alzhimer’s disease) which are associated with malfunctioning mitochondria. Increasing the amount of mitochondria will help protect against such diseases.
- It is anabolic – Doing 30 seconds of all-out sprints increases muscle synthesis in the target muscles3.
- Saves time – You will still need a shower after an explosive workout, but doing a couple of sprints takes much less time than going for a long run.
- Effective for everyone – You might not be the next Usain Bolt, but sprinting is good for everyone, and everyone is good at sprinting (all you have to do is use a lot of energy!). Whether you are old, young, fat or skinny sprinting will be good for you (just make sure you do it relative to your ability).
Don’t forget to warm up!
I know warm-ups aren’t the most fun, but getting injured is even less fun – so you need to do them!
For running, I would always suggest you do some dynamic stretches, with focus on the legs. Its always a good idea to stretch your whole body if you have time, but stretching leg muscles is a must. If you are stuck for warm-up ideas, here are some quick warm up routines you can do before going for a run:
10x Tip-toes – With both feet flat on the ground, roughly shoulder distance apart, raise yourself up on your tip-toes as high as you can go. Hold for a couple of seconds and slowly lower yourself back down. You should feel your calf tense when you get to the top.
10x Raised leg pulls (each leg) – Raise you knee up high, then with both hands grab your shin and pull your leg into your body. Release your leg and slowly put it back down before repeating the movement with the other leg.
20x heel flicks – Start with both feet on the floor, and quickly alternate each leg flicking you feet back so they almost hit your bum. You should be almost jogging on the spot.
And now you’re ready to go!
1. Chan HH. (2013). Oxygen consumption, substrate oxidation, and blood pressure following sprint interval exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 38 (2), 182-7.
2. Serpiello FR, McKenna MJ, Bishop DJ, Aughey RJ, Caldow MK, Cameron-Smith D, Stepto NK. (2012). Repeated sprints alter signaling related to mitochondrial biogenesis in humans.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 44 (5), 827-34.
3. Smith AA, Toone R, Peacock O, Drawer S, Stokes KA, Cook CJ. (2013). Dihydrotestosterone is elevated following sprint exercise in healthy young men. J Appl Physiol. 114 (10), 435-40.
Image courtesy of toffehoff