World’s best workout
WE PORED OVER THE RESEARCH THEN POUNDED, DANCED, GRINDED, CYCLED, RAN, LIFTED, FOUGHT AND BURPEED OUR WAY TO WHAT SCIENCE** DESCRIBES AS THE BEST RETURN ON YOUR SWEAT INVESTMENT.
Finding the best way to get fit
THE ANSWER, if you were looking for an easy one, is Crossfit. Technically speaking it’s a seemingly randomised mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT), resistance training, continuous moderate intensity exercise (CMIET) and sport-specific training. You basically want to adjust your training to being very functional in a gym environment and then schedule in some dedicated sessions for your chosen sport, like a long run or hitting the mountain-bike trails on the weekend.
Whereas there is a ton of research around what the best exercise is, most studies and hypotheses circled back to two existing bodies of work. The first is a 2014 study conducted by exercise and sport science department at Western State Colorado University in the US. Researchers set out to compare the effectiveness of CMIET alone and CMIET with one day of HIIT per week. The 29 adults were randomised into three groups and returned after 12 weeks of close supervision with a 10,1 per cent increase in V0 max among
2 the group with the one day of HIIT training in their routine. The straight CMIET group saw an increase of only 3,9 per cent and the sedentary crew a reduction of 5,7 per cent.
The other study comes courtesy of Germany’s Martin Luther University’s Department of Sport Science, which in 2012 prepared two groups of recreational runners over 12 weeks for a half marathon. One group trained using two endurance run sessions (totalling 150 minutes) on a weekend and the other four 30-minute HIIT sessions and one 30-minute endurance run, with workouts happening after office hours. Members of the HIIT group saw significant gains in oxygen intake (V0 peak) over the other group, but all
2 34 athletes finished the half marathon with little performance increase over previous times.
Although you can fit in HIIT sessions virtually anywhere, no other organisation has coded it into its DNA like the Crossfit brand. The organisation is based on a fitness regimen developed by Gregg Glassman, who defines fitness as “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains”. It’s the “work capacity” bit that sticks out the most. That serves as a call-out to an idea of fitness that isn’t about looking good in a bikini or how many lines there are in your sixpack. Crossfit capability is proven by how many reps of the workout you could achieve in the allotted time, how fast you could do the prescribed workout or how much weight you could lift for a given movement.
These principles and the ability they have to inspire legions of acolytes to strive to achieve ever-increasing outcomes was prime breeding ground for the organisation’s marquee event: the Crossfit Games. At the games, the organisers crown the fittest on Earth. It’s a bold claim, but easy to make when your sport is literally people working out. The fittest on Earth for 2017 were crowned as this story landed at the printers, but there would be no surprises to see Mathew Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir reclaim their respective titles.
* Combination of functional movements that are frequently used in HIIT workout routines like those used in Crossfit ** Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, Researchgate, Mayo Clinic