When the slopes are buried under four feet of snow, the gym is the last place you want to be. Lucky for you, an expanding body of scientific evidence shows that high-intensity workouts can get you into shape in about half the time of more moderate exercise.
“It’s a time-efficient way to train,” says Dr. Martin Gibala, an associate professor at McMaster University in Ontario who has conducted research on high-intensity interval workouts. But there’s a trade-off. “Intervals hurt, they’re uncomfortable. You can get nauseated, even,” he explains. “Going hard for a short period of time will produce benefits, but you pay the price in how you feel.”
Suck it up, and adopt our high-intensity midwinter workout plan. Your suffering will be rewarded with longer, stronger runs—and more time to make them.
Do two or three of the following workouts each week, resting at least one day between each and before especially hard ski days. Scale back on the number or intensity of workouts during high-volume ski weeks. At the end of each workout, perform three or four core exercises of your choice.
The Fine Print
High-intensity training could be considered “microwave” fitness, offering many of the benefits of traditional, moderate exercise in just a matter of minutes. But, like a microwave, it comes with its own safety concerns and issues to consider.
Ease into it. Start with shorter or less intense intervals and build up to harder efforts. Developing strength (through resistance training) and a good aerobic base (think longer, slower cardio training) will prep your body to handle intense efforts, making your workouts more effective. It can also help you recover more quickly.
Play defense. Studies indicate that intense exercise can temporarily weaken your immune system. Combat this danger with good nutrition and plenty of sleep, as well as a day or two of minimal activity after hard workouts. Rest will also make your efforts more effective because your body rebuilds to become even stronger during post-workout recovery periods.
- SKI MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2009