Just as there are snacks to eat, there is also snack training. The edible snack is that thing you eat quickly while doing something else, perhaps walking or working. It would be good if it was also nutritious but in this case “snack” means “something quick.”
It is not surprising that the saying comes from the U.S.: not only because they invented the snack but also because the concept-or at least the idea of associating a certain kind of exercise with this name-came from Americans.
What is it all about?
Just as snacking is a fast and frequent form of nutrition, the same is snack exercise: a fast and very frequent form of training. It generally takes no more than 10-15 minutes and can/should be done daily.
Its popularity isn’t strange in these times: when the only sports activities allowed in much of the world are running and bicycling, and when all gyms are closed, the only other form of exercise possible is that practiced indoor. And man is an animal that adapts.
In this case the ingenuity lies in considering two facts:
- Exercise is always good for you
- It is not always easy to do one-hour long workouts everyday
It happens that science comes to our aid, showing that even a little exercise a day brings unquestionable benefits.
It does not replace “real” training
One thing that needs to be made clear right away is that 10 minutes a day of more or less intense effort, even added up over the course of the week, is not equivalent to a one-hour workout or even 2/3 “full” workouts.
Coach Joe Holder, who at the very beginning of the pandemic came up with the idea of developing short workouts of up to 20 minutes to offer on Instagram, explains the approach to snack training this way: when you train for performance do the full workout, when you train to be healthy do the snack workout.
The short but frequent type of movement is meant to elevate the base on which you build your fitness, which would otherwise start from much further down. Remember: the difference is between training for performance and training for good health.
How to train
The beauty of this type of training is that 1) it takes very little time and 2) you can do it at any time of the day, even in without the proper apparel
A typical cycle might be as follows:
- Warm-up of 2 to 3 minutes by walking in place, knee bends and rotations with squats
- Cycle of upper trunk exercises (biceps extensions, hand chops, clockwise and counterclockwise arm rotations)
- Lower trunk exercise cycle (burpees, leg lifts from lying down)
- Core (leg lifts or chops from lying down, knee lifts from standing) + plank
All exercises to be performed for 30 seconds each with a short rest between sessions, and repeated 4 times. In 10-12 minutes the workout is completed and you can resume your day.
The perfect day also includes a 20-minute light jog in the middle of the day and another 15 minutes of lower trunk workout toward evening, but as little as 10 minutes can help you, a lot.
Can you stop running?
Obviously not. As mentioned above, this type of training complements the full training. As Joe Holder says, thinking you can eliminate intense, prolonged workouts and replace them with shorter, more frequent ones is like thinking you can prepare for a marathon by doing only sprints. Endurance and the ability to deliver power over length cannot be improved by short training sessions. However, as we said before, good specific preparation is best built on a well-finished generic base.
One step at a time, frequently.