I was reading an article Don passed on to me from Outside Magazine entitled Sprint 8. Here's the gist of it:
SPRINT 8 IS A 20-MINUTE WORKOUT you can do with any aerobic activity: swimming, running, rowing, cycling—you name it. After a three-minute warm-up, start a series of eight 30-second intervals. Prep your muscles for the pace with the first three, then push yourself as hard as possible through the rest. "If you can keep charging past 30 seconds, you aren't trying hard enough," says Sprint 8 creator Phil Campbell.
Between each sprint, slow to an easy pace for 90 seconds, to fully recover for the next one. Finish with a couple minutes of easy work.
For the best results, do a series every other day so your body has time off. If you don't currently have an exercise routine, Campbell suggests you start with at least three weeks of moderate sprints to strengthen your joints' connective tissue and to prep the muscles for full-bore exertion.
After doing more research on this type of workout, I am finding it is not new and there is a lot of info out there about it, although most of it focuses on a 4 minute workout that requires the use of a ($15,000) fitness machine. Apparently, it is the rage in a lot of big city clubs.
But the main article, entitled Power Surge, and which can be found here,http://outside.away.com/outside/bodywork/200604/high-intensity-training-1.html discusses high intensity training and the results that can be achieved. Among the benefits is, of course, better fitness level and higher metabolism rate, which leads to fat burning and weight loss. Sounds good so far!
There is also a book by Phil Campbell, entitled Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness 2nd Edition New 2007 5th Printing, and excerpts I have read are very fascinating. The concept seems worth investigating further. Naturally, the testimonials all indicate either the inability to progress after a certain age until they found this new program, or people new to fitness who love the fact that the whole routine only takes 20 minutes. I like both ideas actually.
Now, I know what you're thinking, and I'm skeptical to a point too, but for some reason, the whole thing is nagging at my memory; I know I read something about this at least 5 years ago and probably considered looking into it then, but then didn't for one reason or another. So here it is again. Coincidence? Not sure.
The 4 minute workout articles I came across also described 40 second sprints with 20 second rest intervals, 40/20s as my old coach used to call them. So there, is that where I got this idea? And I loved doing those. We would do a warmup of whatever amount of time we wanted and then when it was time for the track session to start, if we didn't start with the 40/20s, we ended the session doing them. This is a more advanced form of the same high intensity workout described in the Sprint 8 article.
I for one am in the market for any workout that will help me improve my fitness level, yet not take hours to accomplish. I figure a 20 minute workout, with only 8 minutes at high intensity, can't be such a bad idea. Think of it. If I can do this twice a week, and I really think that's all I will be able to manage, it will free up my time to get in the swim and/or weight workouts I skim off my schedule just to get in a run workout. And who knows, I might actually see some improvement this year! (That's my secret goal, to better my times from last year.)