Boot Camp Workouts – No Pain, No Gain?

Boot Camp style workouts have been around since before 1998, when the American Council on Exercise started noticing them, and they remain among the most popular workout options.  These workouts are based on the programs used to train new recruits in the armed forces, and include such exercises as pushups, pull ups, running, squat thrusts, etc. The workout appeals because it’s back-to-basics, is proven to work, and it appeals to men as well as women. However, the efficacy of these workouts hadn’t really been studied until now.

To analyse the health and fitness benefits of boot camp–style workouts, a team of exercise researchers from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse Exercise and Health Program, recruited six men and six women ages 19 to 29. Their baseline exercise levels were determined using a motorised treadmill to determine each subject’s maximal heart rate (HR max) and maximal oxygen consumption (V• O2 max).  They were all  given an exercise DVD with a  boot-camp style workout, and told to learn the routines and practice them. The participants came back to the lab and were tested again. The results showed that the workout was well balanced and effective, and that they burned around 600 calories an hour, or 400 calories in a 40-minute workout. The volunteers obtained muscle-building benefits from push-ups, arm curls and squat thrusts that you wouldn’t get from going out for a jog, and they were working at 77 percent of heart-rate max, which is considered moderate intensity. This fits within the guidelines set by the American Council on Exercise. However, there were times during the workout when participants reached 91% of their heart rate max, meaning there is an interval aspect to the workout, which provides even more cardiovascular benefits.

It’s important to remember that all boot-camp style workouts are not the same, so you’ll want to check out a few of them to find the one that’s right for you. Some are heavier on cardo while others emphasise strength training, and experts recommend you choose one with a good variety and balance between the two. Or, if you’re looking to improve in a certain area, choose a workout that emphasises that area and use it as an addition to your regular exercise routine, once or twice a week.

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