High Intensity Workouts with your Dog
The second of the seven fitness habits of highly fit people and dogs is to mix in high intensity training into their regular exercise schedule. Although it can be difficult, high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can provide you and your dog with many benefits including:
- Improve calorie burning, both during the workout and while at rest. Total training time can be much less, yet provide the same (or more) of a calorie burn when compared to normal, low intensity sessions. Intense training is a great way to keep you and your dog from gaining weight.
- Activation of more muscles and an overall more toned and muscular body. Working out hard makes it tougher on the total body and will help to build stronger muscles and supporting tissues. High intensity training means strong bodies for you and your dog.
- Better chance of getting runner’s high from the workout. Remember that both humans and dogs are susceptible to the runner’s high phenomenon, but that it does require a fairly rigorous intensity to achieve this state of exercise induced euphoria.
- Improved athletic performance. For those of you with canine athletes, including agility, fly, and other sports, high intensity workouts are needed to improve athleticism and sport specific stamina.
With all of these amazing benefits, it is a wonder why HIIT isn’t more popular with people, either for themselves or their dog. Assuming that you and your dog are healthy, below are some tips that can help you make high intensity training a fitness habit. And by the way, having a health issue is not necessarily an excuse to bypass hard training. As reported in the New York Times, a new study at the University of British Columbia led by exercise physiology specialist Jonathan Little, suggests that HIIT is ideal for those who are suffering from a chronic disease such as pulmonary disease, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.
Tips for Incorporating High Intensity Interval Training into your Dog’s Workouts
- Use the Tabata 2:1 ratio. The Tabata protocol is a popular and effective technique to build intensity into almost any workout. The idea is to workout hard for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 second, repeating for a total of 8 sets. You can set up sprints, hills, or agility cones and run with your dog for the prescribed time, then resting, and then starting again.
- Build up to no more than 2-3 HIT sessions per week. Because HIIT is intense, the body needs adequate recovery time between sessions. Unless you and your dog are elite athletes, start with 1 HIT session a week, and if you want to include another session make sure that it is preceded by at least one or two rest days or low intensity days.
- Keep session duration short. Again, unless you and your dog are elite athletes, keep the total workout time to 15 minutes or less. The Tabata protocol mentioned above requires only four minutes to complete. With warmup and cool down, you and your dog can be done in 10 minutes or less! There really is no more reason to use the old “we don’t have time” excuse.
- Find activities that you and your dog enjoy and make them intense. Whether you turn a walk to a speed walk, a jog into a sprint, or core work into tabata core work, find activities that both you and your dog enjoy and simply ‘turn up the intensity’. I know people who can turn Yoga and Pilates classes into grueling sweat sessions. You can do the same with your dog’s workout as well.
Anyone who wants to improve their dog’s (or their own) fitness, and burn more calories, should include some high intensity interval training into the mix.