Intense Workouts for You and Your Dog
As we discussed last week, short workouts are a great strategy for keeping a high level of fitness, even when you are pressed for time, as long as the intensity level is high enough. In today’s post, we will share some suggestions on how to structure a short, yet intense workout for you and your dog.
If you and your dog are going to benefit from short (15 minute or so) workouts, they will need to be relatively intense so that the muscles and cardiovascular systems are stressed enough to force adaptation. Of course, everyone has different fitness levels and injury histories so there is really no “one size fits all” approach to creating a perfect 15 minute workout. Below are some suggestions for different fitness levels. Feel free to try these and other variations. The key is to create one or two routines that you and your dog enjoy, and that you can “go to” when you are crunched for time. Remember to include a warmup and cool down as part of the routine. I recommend at least 2-3 minutes of warmup and the same for cooling down. In the end, a 15 minute workout will translate to 10 minutes of high intensity training and about 5 minutes of warmup and cool downs.
Adding Intensity to a Workout
Go faster. For those who typically like to walk or jog with their dog, the simplest way to increase the intensity is to go faster! If you are a walker, than speed walk for the 15 minutes that you have available. Try increasing your pace by another ½ mile per hour. This will get your and your dog’s heart rate up.
If you are a jogger, then try and increase your pace by as much as 30 seconds per mile or more. The increased pace will not only tax your muscles, but will also tax your cardio and respiratory systems.
Use gravity. If you live near hills, it is easy to add intensity! Simply walk/jog/run up a hill. Walk or jog back down and repeat. For the full 15 minutes. Your dog will also get the added benefit of hind leg muscle isolation, which will benefit their overall back leg strength. Choose a hill that will take 15 seconds or more to ascend at a brisk pace.
Sprint. Sprinting is one of the best forms of exercise out there. Unless you or your dog has injuries that preclude you from sprinting, use sprint drills as a go to routine when possible. Place cones or other markers at least 30 yards apart (50 yards is my preferred distance). Then, run as fast as you can to each cone, resting no more than around 30 seconds before turning around and springing back to the start. Repeat this for the allotted time.
Use athletic, body weight movements. Simple bodyweight moves can really up the intensity of any workout. Exercises like pushups, squats, or burpees can tax you and your dog, especially when they are wrapped around more traditional cardio drills (like walking/running)). For example, try the following sequence of cardio and bodyweight drills to get your heart rate up.
Set two cones, 50 yards apart (less if you are space constrained). Sprint to the first cone with your dog. Then, you immediately drop down and perform 3 burpees while your dog rests. Rest for 15 seconds. Now, sprint back to the starting cone. Have your dog do “up downs” (have them lie down and then get up) for 3 reps, while you rest. Continue like this for the allotted time. For added variety, do one set as described using burpees, than do one set using pushups instead of burpees (have your dog do a front leg down dog), and then do one set of squats (have your dog to sits). That is one round. Perform as many rounds as possible in the allotted time.
Add resistance. Any exercise can be made more intense by adding resistance. Use a weighted vest for yourself and a K9Fit Vest for your dog. The added weight will automatically add intensity to any exercise you do. Humans and dogs that are more advanced can use the vests during any of the above mentioned drills for an extra dose of intensity.
There are virtually an unlimited ways to turn 15 minutes into a kick ass workout. Try some of the above ideas, or use other movements that you and your dog are comfortable with. The important thing is to make sure that you are working hard and having fun.