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.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents - BY LIND­SEY SCHUT­TERS

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

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