“Mildly obsessed.” This was Kelly T’s, of Grounded Fitness, personal assessment of me and one I take as quite the compliment. Although I think she underestimates me. I’d call me “majorly obsessed.” And if I’m being really honest I’d call me a bit of a compulsive exerciser. Which can be a problem. As a few of you delicately pointed out in regards to my disappointing kettlebell results. So, October’s Great Fitness Experiment is all about dialing down the crazy and trying something new for me: a low volume workout.
In August, I was the cardio queen (not to be confused with the Dancing Queen, the Dairy Queen or even just The Queen) and logged an astonishing number of hours and miles. In September, I added weights but kept up my training volume, averaging 20-25 hours a week which is ridiculous for anyone who is not a professional athlete. And then one of you smarty pants (sorry, can’t remember who – I get a veritable blizzard of e-mail!) sent me this article by figure competitor and trainer Rachel Cosgrove called “The Nail in the Cardio Coffin.”
With much help from all of you, we have already examined the effects of high volume moderate intensity training and so her story rang true to me. I was particularly intrigued by her rapid 8-week transformation. Do click through to her article to see the before and after pictures as well as her whole story. The most impressive part of it? She lost 15 pounds and a significant amount of body fat with just five to six hours per week of training. That would mean I would get 15-20 hours of my life back! So I can do exciting things like… grade more SAT essays. I know, I am pretty much James Bond.
The Nuts and Bolts
I immediately e-mailed Rachel and asked her for her specific plan. She told me to buy her e-book. Then she took pity on my cheap soul and pointed me to some workouts she put up on Figure Athlete. She writes:
After completing my Ironman, I made fat loss my primary goal for eight weeks. I eliminated all steady-state endurance exercise. No running, biking, swimming, or anything else in the steady-state.
My workouts consisted of high intensity for short bursts, whether it was with weights or doing a metabolic interval session. I lifted weights three days a week, and I performed interval-training workouts on the other days.
I made sure the interval workouts weren’t on a treadmill or a bike. I only used bodyweight-exercise circuits, along with kettlebell circuits, as my cardio workouts.
These metabolic cardio workouts would crank my heart rate up for two minutes, I’d recover, and then repeat. Doing these interval circuits, along with strength training, took up a total of five to six hours a week, nothing like the twenty to thirty hours of Ironman training!
Rachel challenged me to take out all running and biking and do her “metabolic interval” training instead. I’ll pause while the reality of that sinks in. I’ve never – at least not in the past 5 years – gone a single week without running. Even when I blew out my shin last year, I switched to spinning. I don’t know if I can handle it, frankly. But that is exactly what makes a good experiment! And after all the miles I’ve put in over the past two months, my body could use the rest. Plus, I must see if that kind of fat loss can really be achieved with such low training volume. I must say it sounds a bit too close to those retarded Hydroxycut commercials but we shall see.
Rachel suggests alternating weight days with interval days so here is my tenative plan:
(Please see the above linked articles for the actual workout complete with exercise descriptions AND pictures! And also, the metabolic interval article has a picture of the first and only female jockstrap I have ever seen. I am horrified. And fascinated. Truly.)
I will also still be doing Hip Hop Hustle and, occasionaly, Zumba. What? I can’t sacrifice everything I love! But I will keep my total training volume at under 6 hours per week. Six hours per week. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I might have to find a new hobby. The Great Knitting Experiment?
Who’s in with me??