High-intensity training with app is best for under-30s, experts say
MUNICHJul 06, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jul 06, 2015 12:00 am
Even with music, fitness workouts get boring, so it's hardly surprising that a brace of new smartphone apps are promising users massive fitness improvements in just half the training time.
High-intensity workouts are nothing new. Squats and push-ups have been in use for decades and are supposed to bring within minutes the same benefits as playing a game of football or going for a long jog.
Philipp Hagspiel, the director of research at the German fitness company Freeletics, which markets app-based high-intensity workouts in Europe, agrees all its exercises are well-worn old faithfuls.
But he says, "The exercises have been packaged in a new form so you train in an efficient and sustainable way."
No weights or machines are needed for a high-intensity workout. Your own body weight is what your muscles have to lift.
Exercise plans are assembled by an electronic coach and updated regularly depending on your fitness level. You also don't need to be a member of a gym. Instead you track your progress online or via the app.
On its website, Freeletics promises you will "get in the best shape of your life" in just 15 weeks. To do that Freeletics makes high demands on its customers. "That's intentional. It's not about training in your comfort zone. We are too often in our comfort zone," says Hagspiel.
Ingo Froboese from the German University of Sports in Cologne says high-intensity training is good for "young, healthy and fit people."However, the professor recommends anyone older than 30 visit a gym for advice before engaging in any intensive training.
Freeletics workouts last between 15 and 45 minutes and are composed of different exercises like push-ups, standing jumps and sprints. Performance is measured in how many exercises you complete in a certain length of time.
The goal of high-intensity training is to exert the body to the maximum with the aim of perfecting strength and endurance, according to Hagspiel. This is the best way "to increase performance by exercising intensively in as short a time as possible. That's what makes this form of exercise so efficient."Michael Branke works for Germany's fitness trainer association, DFLV, and he believes the workout program used by Freeletics is "extreme" and almost impossible for the average person of carry out. "I think most people engaged in high intensity training are exerting themselves to their limits. "However, only a few actually enjoy doing that."
By only using your own weight to train with, you save the money you might have spent on equipment. "You also learn to move more efficiently and that can be useful for everyday life," insists Hagspiel.
Froboese says such exercises can provide the "basis" we need for movement, but he does have a word of warning. "If I don't have the ability to move safely and confidently in the first place, then it can be useful to have equipment that helps me exercise correctly."
App-based high-intensity training lacks the staffer watching from the sideline of the gym, which means there is no one there to correct harmful exercise mistakes.
"Basically I can say that I'm happy whenever young people exercise more, and approve whatever motivates them to do it regularly," says Froboese.