Quick Workouts to Burn Calories with your Dog
Bet you thought we’d have a hard time with the letter “Q” for today’s A to Z Challenge post. One of the biggest excuses that people use for not exercising themselves or their dog is the familiar “I have no time”. It turns out that this is not a valid excuse. Anyone pressed for time can use short and intense workouts to keep fit. In fact, research suggests that short and intense training is way more effective and efficient than longer, steady state training. So our letter “Q” post is all about Quick workouts.
The biggest challenge with quick workouts is that they are designed to be hard. If you only have 15 minutes to workout with your dog, you better make it intense so that you can both reap the benefits. Using the same level of intensity as your normal longer workouts, although better than nothing, will not be effective in keeping or building fitness in the long run. As always, ask your vet and your doctor for approval before you and your dog begin an exercise program.
3 Quick and Effective Workout Programs for you and your Dog
There are many ways to structure an effective and quick workout for you and your dog. Remember to include time for warm up and cool down as well. One rule of thumb is to spend as much time warming up and cooling down as you do working intensely. For example, if you have a total of 15 minutes to train, warm up for about 4 minutes, train for 8 minutes, and cool down for 3 minutes.
One of the more popular high intensity workout approaches is called the Tabata Protocol. This workout routine dictates a 2 to 1 work to rest ratio with 20 seconds of full effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 sets of the target exercise. The Tabata workout takes a total of 4 minutes (not including warm up/cool down). For humans, an example is Tabata squats, where you would do 20 seconds of unweighted squats, as fast as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat 8 times. For a dog, you could follow the same structure, and use any move that they are trained to do, such as sit or sit pretty. The hard part about doing this type of training with your dog is that you can’t easily make them go as fast as possible during the 20 second work interval. Do the best you can and move through the sequence diligently.
For those with more time than 4 minutes, try stringing 2 or more Tabtata sets together using different exercises. For a human example, try a Tabata set of squats and then after the 8 sets, immediately begin a Tabata sequence of pushups. For dogs, try Tabata sit for the 8 sets followed by 8 sets of down (have your dog lie down, get back up, and repeat as many times as possible during the 20 seconds). Or try any canine circuit that you normally do and apply the Tabata protocol to make it more intense.
The best part about sprinting is that it is, by definition, an intense exercise. It is also easy to do with your dog. If you are pressed for time, then minimize the rest periods to keep your heart rates elevated. I do not recommend the Tabata timing for sprints and prefer to use a 1 x 2 work to rest ratio. This means that you would sprint for, say 10 seconds, and rest for 20 seconds and then repeat. This will be very challenging. Run sprints for a minimum of 8 sets depending on your time constraints.
Another great way to create a short but intense workout is to use a circuit approach. The idea behind a circuit is that you work one group of muscles and then let these muscles rest while you move to another muscle group, pausing between sets only long enough to get to the next station. A good example for a human would be a circuit of squats followed by pushups and then pullups, performing one set of each to near failure, and then repeating for 2-5 circuits. Either move straight through all circuits or rest briefly in between each circuit, depending on your time constraints and fitness levels. You can do circuits with your dog by having them fetch or lie down as you perform each movement. Even better, design a canine circuit using sit, balance work, and a quick, short back and forth sprint.
Each one of the workouts above can be done in as little as four minutes (plus warm up and cool down) for a total time of as little as 8 minutes! Yes, you heard that right, you and your dog can get fit and burn calories in only 8 minutes, as long as you push it during the work interval. Try it out, stop the excuses, and let us know how you do.
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