Today I was reminded of the power of a minute by inspirational speaker Willie Jolley. Willie quotes Dr Benjamin May on the importance of using our minutes wisely below. Further below are some further ramblings of my own in regards to thoughts on group exercise and using minutes well.
I have only just a minute
Only 60seconds in it
Forced upon me
Can’t refuse it
Didn’t seek it
Didn’t chose it
But it’s up to me to use it
I must suffer if I lose it
Give account if I abuse it
Just a tiny little minute
But in eternity it’s in it
What’s this got to do with training you might ask? Well often I prescribe a set of exercise for 1minute or less (30sec) usually. The reason I like to prescribe using time rather number of repetitions, particularly in a group situation is that it places the responsibility of doing as much work as possible on to the individuals in the training group to do as much as they individually can.
Granted, a number figure is a given clear and measureable goal to aim for and there is no rule saying you can’t do more than the given number of reps. So I do often prescribe both time and repetitions.
Therefore in one minute of exercise each person has the following choices to make:
a. Chat to a friend for a few more seconds so they don’t have to do as much work
b. Do the exercise half way right so they can get through the minute without feeling too fatigued
c. Attack the exercise like a crazy person and risk doing themselves some damage
d. Perform the exercise correctly to the best of their ability, focusing on what they are asking their body to do, visualising the exercise and movement pattern, keeping their breath control right and maintaining the highest intensity work they can safely do so. If they need to rest they rest for a few seconds and then complete some more repetitions to close out the minute of exercise
In a group training environment or on your own I like option d. A very fit and experienced trainer can continue working as hard as they can for as long as they can for the minute. A less fit trainer can do 1 or 6 repetitions correctly (or more) then rest and repeat until the minute is finished
That way each person has done as much work as they individually can in the minute.
All of the options a-d are OK dependent on your goal and how much you want to change. It is still beneficial to be outside doing any physical movement with friends which you would not have otherwise been doing. The mere social connection aspect is a healthy lifestyle choice and has positive health outcomes in a whole hours worth of minutes. Moving joints and even just lightly stressing the muscles and heart and lungs is beneficial to health and to feeling positive and happy. A group holds you accountable.
The greatest health benefits; increased muscle mass, fat loss, improved bone density, sleek and slender body shape changes for females and toned and strong shape for males, lowering of insulin resistance and positive mental outlook are achieved at high intensity work levels. High intensity might be described as >70%Effort (which is a conservative high intensity). I’d consider high intensity at 90% and greater. That would be option d.
Having said that, some folks who train in my groups are just not well enough to perform high intensity exercise. Exercise is a stress and on top of existing health stresses, high intensity exercise may be detrimental to overall health. So, in 1minute a less fit person may not get as much total work done, but for them the one minute will be just as intense. That is a tremendous step of faith being put into work and that needs to be encouraged.
I don’t consider walking for pleasure as training, but it is a very beneficial movement, and it is where we all originally started our 2legged exercise training from. So if walking is where you’re at, walk.
Anyone suffering from sickness, chronic disease, gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, chrones disease, candida, yeast infections or others such as endometriosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue, just to name a few, are already under stress and will find it very hard to even be interested in thinking about exercising at high intensity. Just going for a walk or some mobility exercise will be sufficient challenge and benefit for them.
Speaking from my own experience, self observation and observation of people who have come to see me for help with exercise. I know I’m well when I get excited about training. If I am run down then I find it hard to get revved up about training As educated and brainwashed about the benefits of training as I am, it can still sometimes seem like an absolute chore to do.
On rare occasions after revving myself up to lift some heavy weights and not being able to better or at least equal my last attempts, I have decided to walk away and come back another day when I am fresher and more rested. Thats for heavy resistance training.
Running I can usually pull off even if I feel flat as a tack. I don’t think that I’ve ever finished a training session and said I wish I hadn’t done that, I’ve always felt better for it no matter how tired I felt at the start of the session.
That’s along way round for explaining why I prescribe group training exercise in minutes or 30seconds bouts. In summary, it is so that each person, no matter what their health status, has their own time to do as much high quality exercise as they individually can perform in the time given. Meaning someone can do 20 full body push ups and say it was 9/10hard and someone else can do 10modified push ups and say it was 9/10hard in the same time.
Therefore there is no need or pressure to keep up with someone else, there is no letting the group down if you’re not as fast, fit or strong.
It is the trainers responsibility and the faster, fitter stronger participants responsibility to do more work if they feel they need it or want it. Please be comfortable to just focus on making your own self improvements and forget wondering what other participants may think, becuse they’re probably focused more on their own phsyical discomfort or effort and group fitness is about team, encouragment and some level of discomfort that you chose to a larger extent.
That being said, the proven and fastest way to make self improvements is to put yourself in an environment where better skilled or equipped people can pull you up e.g. group fitness!! And that being said, it is no race, each person is where they on their individual journey. A trainer should understand and cater for that. Please discuss that with me.
So this week in your minutes, no matter where you are, work, home, family, training, nutrition, sleeping. Use your minutes wisely.
Other wise minute ideas are: reading encouraging, life enhancing books; journaling particularly feelings; loving eye to eye contact with family and spouse; non judgemental observation of your life; encouraging someone else, asking yourself solution questions, sleeping if you need it, researching nutrition for health, eating broccoli, drinking filtered water, eating one new vegetable and fruit each day.
If you do find yourself in a pain management mode, and your eating something that is not helpful to your health and fitness goals, flip it to a wise minute by observing your feelings at that moment and the feelings that lead you there and just observe… non judgementally and compassionately. You may even observe some of your own false truths or thought patterns that lead you to sabotaging your goals to change.
It has been said to me that I hold my own truths and I am always looking to reinforce my truth, even if it is not the real truth. One mentor said to me the truth will set you free, but it might annoy you at first
Have a great week with some powerful and wise minutes.