Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Fit With Boot Camp Training

Boot Camp group workouts have proven to be more than just the latest fitness trend. Thousands of participants have been reshaping their bodies and reclaiming their health and vitality with the help of fitness Boot Camps, and many trainers are taking notice. More and more fitness professionals are incorporating group fitness “bootcamp” style programs into their training portfolio. However, not all bootcamps are created equal. This article will explain what makes this style of training so effective, and what to look for in a good group workout.

A well designed Boot Camp program, such as the Strictly Fitness Bootcamp I run in Toronto, with Fitness Expert Kris Donaldson, incorporates several important elements to make it a productive, time-efficient exercise program. The following factors are key for producing significant physical transformation, such as improved body composition, increased anaerobic and aerobic fitness, athletic conditioning, and better health.

High intensity resistance exercise should be a focus of a good boot camp. If the intensity is too low, or there is too much emphasis on low intensity cardiovascular training, there will not be a sufficient stimulus for noticeable results. Participants typically attend boot camps to be challenged as well, and will soon become AWOL if this challenge is not found.

The resistance training exercises should include basic pushing and pulling movements for the upper and lower body as well as core training. Using compound, multi-joint exercises will challenge several muscle groups at once, which results in greater “exercise economy”, because you will get more “bang for your buck” during your training time. These are also more “natural” movements, which means they will have a greater carry-over to other regular activities in your life. Attention should be given to balancing the volume of work for opposing muscle groups, so as to prevent muscular imbalances from developing. These exercises should also consist primarily of bodyweight exercises, with the support of basic training accessories.

Bodyweight training is ideal for bootcamp group training because of the convenience and versatility of the exercises that can be performed. Most bodyweight exercises require minimal equipment and be performed almost anywhere. Bodyweight movements can be done indoors or outdoors, and can be adapted to be as challenging or as easy as necessary. No equipment is actually necessary, however, bodyweight workouts can be made more challenging with added exercise variations by the addition of training accessories such as suspension straps (ie: Jungle Gym, Blast Straps, or TRX), the Power Wheel, Lebert buddy system, exercise balls, and adjustable steps.

Every activity we do and every movement we make, whether it’s related to exercise or not, centers on using and controlling our own bodyweight. This is also true for resistance training. Although some people may not consider bodyweight training to be challenging enough, there are distinct benefits to performing bodyweight exercises.

Because bodyweight training typically involves major muscle groups in an integrated manner, the smaller stabilizer muscles are also strengthened. This will improve joint stability and strength. Your core muscles are also involved as you brace to provide a strong, stable base from which to initiate movement for the rest of the body.

Bodyweight training provides a convenient, versative, efficient, and effective method of training for strength, fitness, and conditioning, and should therefore be a mainstay of a good boot camp program.

Interval training cardio is also an important training method to include in a boot camp workout. Interval training involves brief intervals of high intensity “cardio” exercise with periods of lower intensity exercise between them. For example, one could perform 3 minutes of moderate intensity work, alternating with 30 seconds of very high intensity exercise. Interval training is more effective than long, slow cardio “endurance” cardio in a number of ways. Interval training can:

•Stimulate the release of fat-burning “growth-hormones”
•Develop fast-twitch muscle fibers
•Preserve (or even increase) lean tissue while metabolizing fat
•Take far less time to consume far more calories

Cost effectiveness is another huge benefit of being part of a boot camp. Because no gym is needed you save on those ridiculous membership fees. You also won’t need to spend money on expensive home gym equipment. Group training costs less per participant for expert instruction, compared to 1-on-1 personal training, yet with programs such as the Strictly Fitness Bootcamp you still get the benefit of having expert, qualified instructors. An important distinction of the Strictly Fitness Bootcamp is that the groups are limited to smaller class sizes, so that an individual’s needs can still be met within the group training environment. However, there is certainly no slacking allowed! Regardless of their fitness level, participants will be challenged to push their own limits.

One of the most significant benefits of a boot camp is the value of exercising with a group of other motivated, energetic people. There is a group dynamic within a boot camp that will help participants feed from each other’s energy, as well as a sense of accountability to the other members in the group (not just to the instructor). This leads to a better workout, faster results, and greater adherence to the program overall.

If the goal is to have fun, get in great shape, and adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle, a fitness boot camp might be just what you need.


Anonymous said...

Right on! Right on! Amen, even.
Fitness boot camp is a fabulous way to train and for trainers to help more people.
Josh, another great article. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Thanks Scott!

Mey said...

Hi Josh! Thank you for the article. You put a lot of thought into it and explained a lot of benefits of bootcamps. I'm wondering how long your camp is? How many days (and hours per day) do you need before people have significant results? And are you measuring results in terms of looks and body fat and weight or all of the above?

Thanks again Josh =) You are inspiring.


Unknown said...

Hello Mey, our bootcamp is ongoing, and we alternate between different phases every month. Right now it's only 3 mornings per week, but as we grow we will include evenings. Results are measured using nutrition and exercise journals we provide the participants, and include physical measurements as well as aesthetic, and one's mood and energy. Noticeable changes usually are evident in one to 3 months, depending primarily on the individual's nutrition.