The Loop

Fitness Friday: Is jogging a waste of time?

September 13, 2012

*Every week my colleague @RonKaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. This week he presents the pros and cons (mostly cons) of jogging and gives you a quicker, more effective alternative. Look for Weekend Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman**.

Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest

*__Here's Ron:__The short answer is yes and no. Jogging can help improve blood circulation, bone density, weight loss, mental acuity, and raise your metabolic threshold (more on that later). But before you lace up your sneakers and hit the road or the treadmill, you should know that many of the smartest and most knowledgeable people in health and human performance think jogging IS a waste of time. It's especially inefficient if your goal is to look better and perform better in whatever sport you do. Yup, that includes golfers.


Long cardio sessions, if done at a steady pace, don't challenge your metabolic threshold nearly as well as HIIT. Joggers, for example, will get into a groove where they are running at a speed just slow enough to avoid fatiguing until the distance they are running is nearly complete. With HIIT, you don't have that luxury. Within seconds of starting, you've already passed your current threshold and are quickly fatiguing.

If you're not familiar with metabolic threshold, in simplest terms, your muscles mostly rely on oxygen to work. But when you're working hard, there comes a point when you don't have enough oxygen for the muscles to function. So your body begins breaking down carbohydrates to provide those muscles with energy. This absence of oxygen, known as an anaerobic state, is tolerable for short periods, but then lactic acid begins to build, you feel a burning sensation, and the muscle eventually gives out.

HIIT training helps raise your metabolic threshold, studies have shown. And the intensity of the session also challenges muscles to work harder so they become stronger. It also can boost your resting metabolic rate, which means the amount of calories you burn while sitting, sleeping, etc. Oh, and did I forget to mention you can get in and out of the gym in less than half the time? What's not to love about that?

I created a workout, known as the 20-in-20 (link here) that takes advantage of HIIT training, but also improves the mobility and stability you need to play golf. However, if you're starting an exercise program, you shouldn't start the 20-in-20 for four to six weeks. Instead, Mike Boyle offers you a HIIT "starter kit" to get your body prepared for more vigorous exercises.

Here's what he recommends:

-- Run on an even surface for 2:30, at 6 mph (10-minute pace).

-- Run for 60 seconds at 7.5 mph (eight-minute pace).

-- Walk for two minutes.

-- Run for 60 seconds at 7.5 mph.

-- Walk for two minutes.

-- Run for 60 seconds at 7.5 mph.

-- Walk for two minutes.

After doing this two to four times a week, for two weeks, you can decrease the walking time and/or add more reps of running time. But don't increase the duration of the run.

*Ron Kaspriske

Fitness Editor

Golf Digest*