Perhaps fast and intense workouts are just as effective as slower and steady workouts?  If so, then the time saved being can be efficiently spent on other things.

It is important to be in a program that has the right FITTFrequency,  Intensity, Time, Type  

Most of us know how much free time we have in our hectic schedules to squeeze in some structured physical activity.

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We also know what type of workout we will be doing and how often we will go to the gym to do it.  But the greatest uncertainty lies in how intensely we should workout.

Intense or steady workouts?

That is the question.

1. Increased intensity equals decreased duration & decreased intensity equals increased duration

If one workout burns the same amount of calories as another workout but has a shorter duration, it has a higher intensity.

A body training at its highest intensity will do so for the least amount of time for a given number of calories burned.

For one who has a hectic schedule and wishes to support a goal of training in the least amount of time, they must train intensely to achieve maximum efficiency if they wish to burn the same calories as a steady workout.

This applies to all persons but varies based on individual fitness level.

2. Cardiovascular training

This type of training is best-suited for a person who wants to improve their anaerobic threshold or lose weight as efficiently as possible or run a distance at a faster time.

The target heart rate (THR) for high-intensity cardiovascular training is 80-85% of heart rate reserve (HHR) for a maximum duration of 15 minutes.

If the intensity desired is greater than 85% HHR, duration must be shorter than 15 minutes. 

Near maximal cardiovascular training must be done under the guidance of a trained health-and-fitness professional to ensure that exertion is within the limits of the physical capabilities of the athlete.

Longer and steadier cardiovascular training sessions burn more fat than shorter and intense sessions.

intense or steady workouts_23. Resistance training

The target repetition range for intense resistance training is between five and 20 repetitions (Reps) for a duration of between six and 12 sets at an intensity of 65-85% of one repetition maximum (1RM).

If the intensity desired is greater than 85% of 1RM, duration will be fewer than 5 reps.

When in doubt, a good rule-of thumb is that 15RM is about 65% of 1RM for weight.  This allows one to safely calculate their 1RM for program design.

It is worth noting that the resistance program can be designed to split the body up into regions so that over-training any one area of the body is avoided.  Recovery time for muscles should be between 48 and 96 hours to best prevent overuse injuries.

It is also important that the complexity of exercises performed is within the scope of the athlete.

Rest times are greater for compound, complex, bilateral and multi-planar movements.

Strength training at near maximal levels must be done either with a spotter or a trained health-and-fitness professional to ensure that the athlete is safely working within the limits of their physical capabilities.

Less intense, longer and steadier strength-training sessions are safer and have less recovery time than shorter and more intense workouts.

4. Flexibility training

Stretching has to be performed at an intensity level of approximately 6-out-of-10 with 30-60 second holds for a duration between six and eight sets.  

One way to work on flexibility is static-active stretching, where the contraction happens on the opposite side of the muscle being stretched.

In this case, the agonist muscle fibers are contracting while shortening at the same time as the antagonist muscle fibers contract while lengthening.

Both types of passive stretching, static and dynamic, as well as dynamic-active stretching are best done with the assistance of a trained health-and-fitness professional for maximum efficiency and safety.

Longer duration stretches at less tension than shorter stretches at higher tension have been known the yield the greatest gains in flexibility and range-of-motion (ROM).

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