Tabata

Practice vs. Duration Part 2

Continued from Part 1…

We have all heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. I have heard myself say it too. A few years ago, Simon, my brother-in-law, who is a life long soccer player and coach, quoted Vince Lombardi:

“Practice does not make perfect.

Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

~Vince Lombardi

Of course it does! So why do so many parents continue to force their children to practice for extended periods of time? Pushing our kids or yourself, through dragged out practice sessions will not automatically an expert make. Regardless of duration, the focus should be on practicing with precision and accuracy for any amount of time. Here is a great article about just this. Click this link to read it in its entirety. The article discusses the benefits of practice outside of sport, music or theatrical pursuits. How practice in everything we do has its place. This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked and definitely rarely practiced. 🙂

“Just remember not to stop as soon as you – or your charges – know how to do it right. The goal in these vital skill areas is not mere proficiency but excellence. The value of your practice, therefore, becomes more intense as you get better at the activity.”

“A critical goal of practice, then, should be ensuring that participants encode success – that they practice getting it right – whatever ‘it’ might be,” the authors stress.

They suggest you want your participants to complete the fastest possible right version of the activity.

Take the example of a youngster learning to hit a baseball in the backyard as her father feeds her slow pitches. It may seem to make more sense to take her to a batting cage where she faces hundreds of 60 mile-per-hour pitches, but that doesn’t allow her to apply the small corrections to her form that is needed to improve. Instead, eliminate complexity until you start to see mastery, and then start building the extras back in.

The law of the vital few – 80 per cent of results come from 20 per cent of our activity – should be applied to practice, they say.

~Harvey Schachter paraphrasing from Practice Perfect by, Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi.

Over the last few years, my husband and I have been experimenting with the duration of our kids’ practice time for their music lessons. It used to be our rule that they HAD to practice piano (or whatever their chosen instrument was to study) for a minimum of thirty minutes each day. But, because we were met with so much resistance (it often took thirty minutes of cajoling or arguing to even get the practice time started) that it became such an unpleasant situation overall. Who wants that kind of energy in his/her life? So we had to rethink the entire process and come up with a solution.

Our solution was to shorten the practice time.

Drum Kit

It seemed too simple and it felt wrong. And part of me was unconfident that any real long term learning would take place because it had been drilled into me that practice meant time and time meant success.

But because I have been experimenting with shorter duration activities for myself, (bed stretches, Tabata’s, 4 minute mornings, short bursts of house cleaning etc.), I speculated that the same theory could apply to the kids lessons and possibly everything!

Now, what you must remember is that we are talking about kids and kids are not very different from adults. Kids in fact, grow up and in most cases mature into adults. So, logically, the training for a mature adult begins at birth (this is often overlooked, too). Most kids, from my experience, do not like being told what to do, and interestingly I have also noticed the same characteristic among adults. Just because they have chosen said extra-curricular activity does not always indicate that they will want to do or practice said activity. Most often kids want to do what they want to do, which now-a-days has more to do with external stimulation via computer screens and less and less to do with self-generated imagination and creativity.

So this is what we did. We sat down with the kids and reviewed how our current approach wasn’t working out very well and that we had come up with an idea that we would like to try.  Our son likes to play video games (and is very skilled for his age), so in an effort to make everyone happy we have allotted him one hour of screen time per day, (dare I say) on school days; on weekends he gets more time; and in the summer months we experiment with allowing the kids to self-regulate (ha!). During the week, he can use that hour however he likes, i.e., all at once or he can break it up. This is what he usually chooses to do:

When our son wakes up in the morning, he goes through his checklist of personal obligations (on his own):

  • Bed stretches (his version)
  • Personal grooming: brush teeth, wash face etc. (remembers to flush toilet, keeps his sink area tidy etc.)
  • Makes his bed
  • Gets dressed
  • Good-morning greetings
  • 10 minutes drum-kit practice (Sept.– June/ Monday to Friday)
  • 15 minutes video games/ screen time
  • Breakfast
  • Packs up school bag
  • (Sometimes another 5 – 15 minutes video games/ screen time)
  • Clean/brush teeth from breakfast food
  • Leave for school

Five days a week he practices his drum-kit for 10 minutes and once per week has a thirty-minute private lesson; and never practices on the weekends! The results have been remarkable. OK, he is a talented kid, and he really gets the concept that if you’re going to bother doing something-then try to do it right the first time. So for those ten minutes he practices with accuracy and precision.

If you are going to bother spending any amount of time doing something, doesn’t it make sense to be as focused as possible?

Yet, in the same breath, he is still a kid and even though we think he has the makings of a great musician, we do not want to break his spirit by forcing him to practice, even though we know he might grow up to appreciate having studied an instrument outside of school. We have learned that what motivates one child does not work for another, so we practice working with their individual personalities – what a concept! 🙂

Puppy

We think of our kids a little bit like dogs. When we were learning to train our puppies, we were taught that the puppy, being a pack animal, had to know that the human was the alpha. But what was equally important to understand was that using force to discipline a puppy will only cause fear, and break the puppy’s spirit. We wanted brave, good-natured and confident dogs not submissive dogs. Our job as dog owners is to learn how to communicate with our pet. We think the same thing can happen to humans. We want our children to grow up into contributing members of society who are confident and can think for themselves. The training for such an adult begins at the beginning. We need to learn how to communicate with our children and teach them how to make decisions, not control them.

How many adults do you know who were forced to practice an instrument that they disliked as a child/teen, excelled at it, but discontinued playing it? I know of many who played at very high levels but lacked the passion; they played mechanically and tell sad stories of the instrument that they had really wanted to play but weren’t allowed. Just as it is true that kids do not always know what is good for them and parents need to make executive decisions, like if you start something then you should finish it (you can quit after you finish the term), and you should do your best, you don’t have to be THE best. We think that giving our kids the opportunity to be consistent with their shorter practice time sets the tone for their individual success. It also maps out the potential for a successful and varied adult life.

You’ve Got 8 Minutes Workout

My son was home sick from school today, which changes a mothers’ schedule somewhat – actually quite a lot.

We all have to adapt to the fluctuations in our schedules, so adapt I did. I converted the 14 Minute Workout I had planned for today into an 8 Minute Workout. Not only do we need a repertoire of different workout combinations but ones of varying duration, for days like these.

8 Minute Workout 

Part 1: 4 Minute Countdown

Complete as many sets of this combo as possible with precision:

Funny, I put this combo together, then noticed it was very similar, (not exact) from Bodyrock’s so you can click here to view the combo to get a feel for it. In my version there is one push up and important to note the complete squat movements between each transition. This combo can be done without a sandbag, bodyweight only.

Start holding Sandbag with parallel grip throughout combo.

Squat down place sandbag on floor & Jump to Plank

+ 10 Mountain Climbers

+ 1 Tricep Push Up (flex arms parallel to body)

+ Jump Forward to Squat

+ Clean Sandbag to chest (finish clean in a squat) [here is a link which shows how to do a clean – just ignore the Bent Over Row part in the link]

+ Sandbag Overhead Press simultaneously Lunge Right Leg Back

+ Lower Sandbag to Chest simultaneously returning Right Leg to centre Squat

+ Sandbag Overhead Press simultaneously Lunge Left Leg Back

+ Lower Sandbag to Chest simultaneously returning Left Leg to centre Squat

From Squat Lower Sandbag to Floor

This equals ONE set. Repeat from the beginning until the beeper sounds.

I completed 14 Sets in 4 Minutes.

 

Part 2: 4 Minute Mixed Tabata

6 Rounds of two intervals: 10 seconds Rest + 30 Maximum Effort

Repeat this sequence three times.

1. Skipping High Knees: 81 – 80 – 78

2. Lying 6-Inch Leg Raises: 16 – 17 – 16

(Lying on your back, legs outstretched, hands under pelvis -palms down, to round the lower back into the floor by tipping the pelvis – pubic bone pops up. Upper body sustains quarter crunch throughout. Raise legs about 18 inches off the floor – using the abdominals – the lower back should not pop off the floor. Lower the legs by 6 inches then back up to the original start position. Repeat lower legs by 6 inches, raise legs up to original start position etc.) If this is easy then you’re probably not doing it properly. Ensure not to distend your abdominals -draw them inward and do not use psoas.English: At sea aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) Sept...

Beginners should do crunches instead. Or just practice the upper body crunch with hands under pelvis as described keeping feet on the floor – practicing to press the lower back into the ground without distending the abdomen. We can all benefit from practicing this.

Cool down with 4 x 100 skips w/ rope (legs parallel & glued together).

45 minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing series [always including A&B] and first 12 seated postures – a few vinyasa + 3 Backbends + close).

 

 

Use Your Body

Cover of

You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren, is a great reference book.

No need for me to reinvent the wheel.  He has said it all: Why Bodyweight Exercises, Why Strength Training (or Why Cardio Is a Waste of Your Time), Back to Basics Nutrition, Myths, Motivation and Intensity.  These are very short, straight to the point essays so you won’t spend hours reviewing the information.  The rest of the book is filled with bodyweight exercise descriptions including photographs.

Mark Lauren is a certified Military Training Specialist among other qualifications. He knows first hand the necessity for soldiers to be in optimal shape for physically demanding missions.  From solid research and experience he has successfully designed short workouts that support his cause.  His book makes these strategies accessible for all of us.

If you find the books’ practical content a little over your head, you can follow my 4 Minute Mornings’ progressions which will establish a great foundation for strength and flexibility.  My hope is that you will graduate from these progressions feeling confident to tackle any workout program.  Remember, just about anyone can do these exercises; there’s really nothing to it.  Consistency is the real challenge.  If you keep your exercise sessions short you are more likely to practice regularly.

Read You Are Your Own Gym.  Arm yourself with the information and put it into practice.

visit www.marklauren.com

The following are my two favourite bits of research perfectly condensed and described by Mark Lauren.

Izumi Tabata

by MLauren » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:02 pm

Izumi Tabata and his partners at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan, compared the effects of moderate-intensity endurance and High-Intensity Interval Training on maximal aerobic capacity—the best indicator of cardiorespiratory endurance.
They conducted a six week study with two groups of randomly picked males.
Group 1 did one hour of steady state training five days a week. Group 2 did only 4
minutes of Interval Training five days a week.
At the end of the six weeks, Group 1 had an increase in maximal aerobic capacity of 10% and Group 2 had an increase of 14%. Not only did the interval group have a 40% greater gain in aerobic capacity, they had an increase in strength of 28% percent, as opposed to the Steady state group which had no gains in strength. And all this with just four minutes of Interval Training a day.  Similar studies have confirmed that Interval Training produces higher gains in aerobic fitness, greater decreases in body fat, and gains in strength as opposed to the muscle wasting that occurs with much longer sessions of steady state training.
And Cardio vs. High Intensity Interval Training by Mark Lauren

Dr. Angelo Tremblay

by MLauren » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:02 pm

Dr. Angelo Tremblay and his colleagues at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory, in Quebec, Canada, tested the popular belief that low-intensity, long-duration exercise is the most effective program for losing fat.

They compared the impact of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and High-Intensity Interval Training on fat loss. Skinfold measurements revealed that the Interval Training group lost more body fat. Moreover, when they took into account the fact that the Interval Training burned less calories during the workouts, the fat loss was 9 times more efficient in that program than in the aerobics program.

In short, the Interval Training group got 9 times more fat-loss benefit for every calorie burned exercising. How can that be? Because, after taking muscle biopsies, measuring muscle enzyme activity, and lipid utilization in the post exercise state, they found that High-Intensity intermittent exercise caused more calories and fat to be burned following the workout. In addition, they found that appetite is suppressed more after intense intervals.