Quality versus Quantity Workouts

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“Why am I not seeing results, I’ve been working out for several hours a day for weeks?”

“I spent 3hrs at the gym today, did I earn that dessert?”

“Should I spend one hour on the treadmill or 30 minutes doing sprint drills?”

“What will yield the fastest results?”

These are questions that I have been asked recently and the answers are not easily given until I ask more questions.  Depending on your objective, goals and where you currently are with your fitness there is no wrong answer.  There definitely is a time and place for long aerobic building workouts, especially if you are an endurance athlete, however, for most people they are simply just burning the clock thinking they are accomplishing something great.  Most people will benefit more from focusing on quality and intensity rather than quantity.

Boise bikeWhen I am in the thick of Ironman training my rides will be up to 6+ hours and my runs will be 3+ hours long.  Most people’s jaws hit the floor or the eyeballs pop out of their head when they hear that.   The first time I saw those workouts on my schedule I did the same thing until my coach educated me on the purpose of long workouts.  The purpose of long endurance building workouts is to build your aerobic base so that you can sustain long efforts during long course events.  If you do not have an objective to participate or race in long course events, why would you subject yourself to hours of training?

When you are doing long and slow training you are teaching your body to burn fat for energy.  Fat does not convert to energy fast, it burns slowly, similar to an oak log on a fire.  Kindling burns like carbohydrates, fast and furious.  During long workouts you may burn a lot of calories simply because of the time spent training but would you rather be able to have the same caloric burn and create a longer after-burn effect with a shorter more quality workout?

This is where quality versus quantity comes into play.  Most people are tight on time and want to see quick results.  Now you are probably scratching your head wondering what is ‘afterburn effect’?  To put it as simply as possible, the afterburn effect is what happens when your body continues to burn off calories, even after a workout session. This effect is also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC for short.  If the correct techniques are used, you can essentially super charge your metabolism into overdrive, causing you to burn off more calories over a longer period of time.

~More importantly this effect can make your body continue to burn more calories for 20 minutes to 48 hours after your workout.

HIITThe techniques used to benefit from the afterburn effect are usually call high intensity interval training or HIIT for short.  HIIT is a method in which you perform an exercise and push yourself as hard as you can for a limited amount of time.  For instance, instead of going for a 30 minute jog, go for a jog and insert 20-30 second striders where you sprint as hard as you can and then jog for about 2-3 minutes and then sprint again.  Repeating this process will spike your energy levels and will carry over and keep your metabolism elevated for an extended period of time.

HIIT (Quality) workouts have their benefits, but it is important to know they can have their downside as well.  If you are not used to them they will feel really hard and can take a lot out of you, especially when you’re just starting out.  Start out small and slow to find out what your body can manage.  As long as you are careful and don’t try to do too much at once, you should find afterburn effect training to be your favorite exercise technique for losing weight as well as improving your fitness level.  Another concern to be aware of is increase chance of injury from doing too much too fast.  With proper form, stretching and not seriously overexerting yourself injury can be prevented.

There are plenty of benefits to incorporating quality workouts into your fitness routine.  A few to mention are the ability to spend less time working out for even greater results, giving you more time to spend with family and friends.  Also, the ability to continue to burn off those pesky calories, even when resting is a huge bonus.

workout intensityLike I mentioned earlier, there is definitely a time and place for long aerobic workouts (quantity workouts) but for the most part most people will benefit the most from quality workouts.  It comes down to what are your health and wellness goals.

If you need help deciphering what will be best for you based on your goals I would love to help you.  If you’d like some suggestions for HIIT workouts to maximize your afterburn effect be sure to send me a request and I will get them to you.  If you have any questions about quality versus quantity workouts please be sure to message me or leave a comment below.

Happy Training.

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.



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