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The Scientific Reason Boot Camp Workouts Are So Good For You

The Scientific Reason Boot Camp Workouts Are So Good For You
From TIME - April 2, 2018

Boot camp-style workouts have been around for decades. But now they come in many shapes and flavorsfrom bridal boot camps designed to tone people up for their nuptials to prison-style workouts taught by people who were formerly incarcerated.

Yet most boot camps share a few important things in common. They combine a series of calisthenics, like pushups, lunges and squats, with running, jumps and other high-intensity aerobic movements that are modeled loosely on military methods for whipping new recruits into shape. Most use forms of body-weight training, but some incorporate equipmentwhether real-world items like tires or park benches, or traditional gym gear like kettlebells.

The exercises that comprise boot camps are designed to work the upper and lower body and core, so its a comprehensive workout, says Dr. Edward Laskowski, a professor and co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine who is currently conducting research on boot camp workouts. Theyre similar to CrossFit workouts but with less equipment, adds John Porcari, a professor of exercise and sport science and program director of the clinical exercise physiology program at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

What makes boot camp workouts so unique is that they emphasize total-body functional training, Porcari says. While traditional gym workouts using weights and machines may improve strength, he says that functional training better prepares the body for real-world activities like climbing stairs and lifting groceries. Youre learning to carry your body around, not a bunch of weights, which I think is a great thing, he says.

These workouts also burn calories and improve fitness. One of Porcaris studies found that the average boot-camper expended about 10 calories per minute during the trainingnot quite as much as someone would burn running at a fast pace, but about as much as one would while cycling or swimming.

Another benefit of boot camp workouts: Most mix periods of very vigorous activity with short rest breaks, and so are considered forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Porcari says. HIIT workouts maximize fitness gains in the shortest period of time. Porcaris study found that during bootcamp workouts, peoples average heart rate hit 77% of maximum, which is within the range needed to improve physical fitness, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. But their heart rates ranged as high as 91% of maxwell above the 80% level needed to qualify as HIIT.

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