Ah, the first week back after the holiday whirlwind. That magic month when the gym is packed with people you've never seen before. The beginning of that special time when you have to wait an hour for a cardio machine. If the crowds have you discouraged from training, or if the idea of a five-mile run makes you want to hide under the covers, you're in luck: Just twelve minutes of high intensity cardio a week burns more fat and calories than one hour of cardio a day.
Ballistic exercise, not endurance cardio, is without question the best way to create high caloric expenditure and body fat metabolism. According to fat loss expert and Titleist Advisory Board Member Dr. Mark Smith, burst training burns five times more calories than slow, steady cardio. When it comes to fat-loss and exercise, think of calories like the fuel in your car. You want to be a gas-guzzling SUV, not a fuel-efficient Prius. After being pushed into rapid acceleration (such as in a ballistic sprint) your body goes into fat burning mode for recovery, boosting your metabolism for the rest of the day. Endurance training (the long slow stuff, as Smith calls it) simply doesn't produce the same fat burning response, regardless of how many miles your put on your wheels.
In addition to elevating your metabolism, a study documented in a recent article in The New York Times found that people who ran on a treadmill for a mere four minutes three times a week for 10 weeks raised their maximal oxygen uptake, or endurance capacity, by about 10 percent and significantly improved their blood sugar control and blood pressure profiles.
So if your goal is to get lean, toned and tight for the New Year, think quality, not quantity. Burst training isn't as intimidating as it sounds. A simple ballistic exercise that I love requires no equipment and can be performed virtually anywhere. Simply set up two markers 15 feet apart. Start the exercise by lunging down and touching one marker, then sprint as fast as you can to the other and touch down. That counts as one. Then sprint back to the opposite marker again. Time yourself for 30s and keep track of how many touches you can perform. Not only highly effective for burning fat and boosting metabolism, ballistic exercise has also been proven to increase both club head speed and power in golfers. So if your New Year's resolution was to gain some extra distance, add some intensity to your training.