What is burst training?
Burst training is a variation of circuit training that combines high-intensity, short-duration exercises followed by brief recovery periods.
A typical workout would generally include 30-60 second intervals of high intensity movements (depending on the specific move being done or equipment being used) leading up to the recovery period. These intervals are then repeated and movements may change based on your individual goals and specific needs. Overall, an effective burst training workout can be completed in less than 30 minutes!
High-intensity intervals, such as those used in burst training have been proven to stimulate a hormonal response, as in the growth hormone and testosterone, which are both powerful fat burning hormones. Researchers have found that burst training actually burns more fat cells in comparison to endurance training (despite the fact that longer, endurance style workouts result in a higher caloric loss overall). Endurance training may provide the calorie burn you are aiming for, but burst training will create the right hormonal responses for real fat loss and lean muscle development.
Intermittent (burst/interval) exercise has also been linked to improving and sustaining blood pressure, healthy cholesterol levels and general health of the heart. Similar to any physical exercise, burst training is also an effective means for reducing stress and stimulating a positive state of mind.
Furthermore, burst training shares many of the same benefits as any other physical activity (when performed consistently), but the time frame needed to effectively train in this manner is arguably the most appealing aspect. In this day and age, “free” time can be hard to come by, so when we are provided a method of achieving the same results, or in some cases even better results, in a lesser amount of time, why wouldn’t we? Simply put, burst training is a time efficient strategy that will improve skeletal muscle and exercise performance.
Lastly, burst training does not over stress the body as sometimes seen with overtraining or exercising excessively. Long duration exercise is not natural for the human body. The human body burns fat for energy or “fuel” and as a result, it will make and store more fat for the next endurance workout. Burst training teaches your body to recover quickly and build lean muscle tissue in preparation for its next intense workout.
Who can benefit?
The well-known fact of the matter is that anyone can benefit from regular physical activity, but burst training can have specific benefits for different circumstances. For instance, high intensity workouts or interval training has been shown to improve enzymes which are essential in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.
In light of the growing levels of obesity, burst training can be viewed as even more appealing to those who are not as fit, or entirely unfit, since the short spurts of interval-based movements encourages the idea that you do not have to work very long before recovery/rest is granted. Although burst training requires that you must push yourself to your maximum potential during the short intensity period, it psychologically seems more bearable than the thought of attempting to run consistently for 30 minutes.
Ultimately it comes down to a case of mind over matter. Burst training can provide the ease of mind necessary for those individuals intimidated by daunting cardio routines or more generally those struggling with time constraints in their daily lives. Not only are the intervals short, but this type of training is recommended to be used at a maximum of 3 days per week as opposed to some other routines which can be geared around 5 day schedules. This is simply because your body starts burning fat to replace the lost glycogen in your blood and liver and it continues to do so for the following 24 hours.
What does it look like?
At this point you may be wondering what exactly a burst training style workout would actually look like and it’s quite simple. Permitting you are aware of proper form and technique you may easily draw-up a quick program based on your capabilities and background knowledge of exercise. If you are unsure of your abilities, it is always recommended that you first speak with your doctor or health professional before attempting anything new or unfamiliar in terms of your physical fitness.
A basic example for your reference:
-- Brief warm-up (this can be 5-10 minutes of light cardio)
-- 60 second burst on the treadmill (use incline to achieve maximum intensity)
-- 4 minute recovery period (performing corrective exercises such as stretching, weight machines or other exercises isolating a specific muscle group)
-- Two 30 second bursts on a stationary bike, with a 30 second rest between bursts (rest does not mean stop; slow down to a relaxed/easy pace)
-- Repeat the full routine until a total of 4-6 minutes of the burst portions have been completed
This, of course, is a very general example of the basic structure of a burst training based workout as your specific training should be based around you and your goals. When it comes to the intensity of the burst portions, it is entirely dependent on the individual and their own perceived exertion/maximal effort. It always comes down to listening to your body.