Home Health Trigger Workouts: The Ultimate Intermittent Workout Method

Trigger Workouts: The Ultimate Intermittent Workout Method

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Trigger workouts are a type of intermittent workout that can be done anywhere and anytime, giving you the flexibility to work out whenever and wherever you want.

The intermittent exercise throughout the day is a new workout method that has been gaining popularity. It is an easy and effective way to get in shape while still being able to do your daily activities without feeling too tired.

We’ve devised a fitness challenge for you.

It’s straightforward. It’s efficient. It’s also designed specifically for individuals who work from home.

If you’re in that position right now, there’s no better time than now to attempt these exercises.

They’re known as ‘trigger workouts.’ Intermittent workouts, micro-workouts, and mini-workouts are other names for them.

Give these exercises a try and see if they may assist you:

  • For improved overall health, move more often throughout the day.
  • Improve your fitness while making working out appear “easy.”
  • Exercise often without requiring an hour of uninterrupted time.
  • Take frequent brief work breaks to refresh your thoughts.
  • Have fun experimenting with a new way of exercising.

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Let’s start from the beginning.

The majority of well-rounded exercises take approximately one hour and include 100 to 200 repetitions.

That may not be what the majority of individuals do on their own. But it’s how I create exercises for our customers as the fitness program director at.

You’ll perform approximately 25-50 total repetitions of main exercises—movements like squats, deadlifts, pullups, and presses—in one of these sessions.

You may perform ten sets of three, five sets of ten, or the tried-and-true “55” pattern (or any variation in that range). Ten sets of ten repetitions may be used in an extremely high-volume exercise.

After that, you could perform some accessory training, such as core exercises, lunges, or arm or hamstring isolation.

These are usually lighter motions performed in order to increase overall labor.

For every given exercise, you’re looking at a total training volume of around a hundred repetitions or so. In less than an hour, everything was completed.

But, after an hour of hard labor, what happens? 

You’re probably going to sit in your seats for the remainder of the day.

Chairs? Do you mean plural?

Yes, of course.

There’s most likely a chair where you work and a chair where you eat your meals. And the recliner where you unwind in front of the television. (Or, if you’re watching the news, don’t relax.)

You presumably had even more chairs before quarantine, such as the one you used to commute to work in.

In an hour of exercise, we can pack a lot of movement.

But one hour is still a short break in a day that is generally marked by silence. 

The average modern worker spends up to 15 hours a day on a chair. 1 Our bodies and brains suffer as a result of this.

According to several studies, even an hour of vigorous exercise is insufficient to offset all of the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. 2

What if we did it the other way around?

What if we spent the most of the day moving about, with just an hour or two of quiet in between?

What if we moved constantly throughout the day, doing thousands of repetitions of movement? 

This may seem absurd, but consider those who work in manual labor for a livelihood.

Long days of nearly constant travel are common for construction workers, furniture movers, military personnel, and agricultural laborers. Professional and Olympic athletes may train for the majority of the day.

Our bodies are capable of handling a tremendous amount of effort. 

I’ve experienced it firsthand.

A few years back, I was experimenting with an exaggerated version of this concept.

We spent 2.5 weeks professionally recording every action and posture when we developed the workout collection of over 400 routines.

Each exercise was recorded from several perspectives, with both excellent and bad repetitions being shown from each viewpoint.

We’d perform a few practice repetitions before each shot, and we’d typically need several takes. We did approximately 35 workouts each day on average.

On the low end, this amounted to approximately 1,000 repeats each day, and on longer days, it might be as much as double that.

All of the dumbbell workouts were done with actual weights. So I did the majority of my repetitions with 50-pound dumbbells.

(Despite this, the hardest day was when we performed just bodyweight exercises and shot all of the abs.)

To recap, that’s 1,000+ repetitions of various exercises each day for 2.5 weeks, stretched out across approximately 10 hours per day, 5 days per week.

It was the pinnacle of intermittent training.

Fortunately, I was able to eat well (a PN speciality, if you will) and sleep well throughout this period. Things would have gone quite differently if those two parts hadn’t been in place.

So, what went wrong? 

Here I am, in all my double-chinned splendor, at the start of the shoot:

Trigger-Workouts-The-Ultimate-Intermittent-Workout-Method

And now, after many, many intermittent exercises, I’m on one of the final days of the shoot:

1625996793_513_Trigger-Workouts-The-Ultimate-Intermittent-Workout-Method

In a short period of time, my physique underwent a significant change. My work capability went through the sky, even after a few rest days, as I developed muscle and became leaner.

The apparent conclusion is that if you’re serious about becoming in shape, you should leave your job and work out for 10 hours a day.

Of course, I’m joking.

But…

What can we learn from this, and what can you take away from it that you can put to use right now?

Let’s take a look at some of the variables at play:

  • I used the usual formula in the other direction. Instead of cramming an hour of exercise into an otherwise inactive day, I spent the most of my time performing physical labor interspersed with periods of quiet. (This is one of the main advantages of intermittent exercises.)
  • My activity was sporadic. We recorded both male and female versions of each activity, so one of us could relax while the other was filming.
  • I wasn’t “exercising.” Because I intended to create physiological stress, I didn’t perform a single pushup or carry a weight around. The situation was just the reverse. That’s what I did to wrap up the day’s filming. Plus, I was thinking about how to make every repeat as cost-effective as feasible.
  • The movement was unrestricted in its scope. The number of repeats was never set in stone. Because it was in my plan or because it was all I could do, I never did a set of 5 or 10 repetitions. I didn’t stop until the videographer ordered me to. To put it another way, I carried on as long as I needed to.
  • Submaximal loads were used. I did a lot of repetitions, yes. However, the majority of them were with a weight that was less than half of what my maximum effort would be (for the dumbbell-based movements).

Let’s look at them in more detail.

Why does inverting the equation work?

Even after a short period of physical exercise, the body undergoes significant changes.

Muscle contractions enhance circulation, nutrients are shuttled into cells, and energy expenditure rises. The body’s insulin control improves, and hormonal function and energy metabolism alter as well. 3-5

The advantages don’t end with your muscles.

Movement causes changes in our brains as well. Physical activity, which may range from conventional gym workouts to simple strolling, can boost mood and cognitive performance while also reducing the negative effects of aging on the brain. 6-10

A group of individuals were given an additional 1,000 calories over their baseline for eight weeks in one study—which we described in this piece about the advantages of reverse dieting. 11

By the conclusion of the research, they should have each gained 16 pounds based on basic calorie arithmetic. Instead, some people gained up to 9.5 pounds, while others gained just a pound.

What’s the major distinction? The individuals who gained the least weight moved more during the day to compensate for the additional calories.

This does not imply that they spent more time at the gym. 

The difference was produced instead by “non-exercise physical activity.”

The individuals who gained the least weight were the ones that fidgeted and walked the most during the day.

Keep in mind that our bodies are always changing. We are always adjusting to whatever we are doing at the time.

So, if we sit motionless for hours at a time, we’re improving at… sitting still for hours at a time.

However, if we move about a lot—and then recover from that movement—we improve at it instead.

The true beauty of open-ended exercises is that they may be done at any time.

It’s easy to compare the human body to a car: when we “run out of gas,” we stop driving. However, our feelings of effort and weariness, as well as our capacity to do physical labor, are much more complicated. 12,13

Fatigue is a complicated feeling resulting from a constantly shifting environment of previous experience and present facts.

During physical exercise, our brains consider factors such as:

  • our level of hydration
  • the temperature and humidity of the environment
  • our glucose levels in the blood
  • temperature of the body

It then compares these variables to our previous experiences in comparable situations.

This information is used to control how much work we can exert and how fatigued we are.

On a hot, humid day, for example, runners will start their race at a slower pace than they would on a cold, dry day, even if they haven’t yet developed mechanical weariness.

Our brains are always comparing what we’ve done in the past to what we can accomplish now.

The majority of exercise is done with set, predictable amounts, and there is usually some aspect of “chasing” pain or exhaustion. (In other words, you’re attempting to exhaust your muscles.)

We form a connection in our thoughts when we intend to perform five sets of five squats: “This is a fair estimate of the most squats we can accomplish.”

Completing 25 total repetitions on five sets of five squats is recognized, safe territory. More than that is a mystery, and therefore possibly dangerous.

These connections alter as physical activity is moved away from defined amounts and toward open-ended performance (that is, it may continue on for as long as it needs to).

“This is the most I can accomplish for X time or Y reps,” your brain no longer perceives your effort level. It considers your level of effort to be “durable for as long as necessary.”

Your stress response is changed as a result of this altered connection. Not just in the now, but also in the future, when your brain considers previous experiences to determine how difficult an activity should be.

Consider how you’d react if you were ordered to perform alternating step-ups on a box for as long as you could at the gym.

Now imagine being asked how long you’d be willing to walk up a steep hill through a lovely forest.

You might gladly spend hours on a walk performing a similar exercise, but if you were counting numbers at the gym, you’d be unhappy in no time (or at least bored out of your mind).

In the gym, you’d probably be much more tired.

How to Make Stress Work for You (finally)

When you exercise, you’re generating a stress reaction that you’re educating your brain to connect with exercise in the future.

That stress reaction may be classified as either distress or eustress.

You’re probably aware that distress is regarded as a kind of negative stress. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. This has the potential to tear you down.

Eustress is a good thing since it’s generally short-lived and comes in a controllable “dosage.” This may help you become more resilient.

Our perceptions of two factors, predictability and control, play a significant role in the distinction between distress and eustress. 14-17

Predictability is our brain’s response to the inquiry, “Do I understand what’s going on and do I have the resources to deal with it?”

Our sense of how much control we have over a situation is called control.

In a distressed condition, we have a poor feeling of predictability and control, and the situation seems to be dangerous.

Our brain has enough doubts about our capacity to deal with it. As a consequence, it triggers a cortisol-heavy epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) and epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) response.

We have a high feeling of predictability and control while we are in a eustress state.

Our brain interprets the situation as a challenge rather than a danger.

Our physiological responses vary as well. We generate more norepinephrine than epinephrine and less cortisol than epinephrine.

Rather than the “better safe than sorry” adrenaline reaction we experience in a dangerous scenario, the response is more precisely suited to the situation’s “mere physiological demand.”

And, after the incident has gone, we return to baseline more rapidly.

Consider someone who spends their day throwing hay bales on a farm or lugging bricks on a construction site as an example of a eustress-based reaction.

Their bodies will just perform what is required to complete the task. There’s no jitters, no racing heart—just efficiency. And there’s a lot of work to be done.

Intermittent exercises provide a hugely underappreciated advantage.

When Pavel Tsatsouline, the founder and chairman of StrongFirst, invented the phrase “greasing the groove,” he popularized certain elements of this training method.

It’s as much about motor learning and skill development as it is about stress reactions and physiological adaptations when it comes to relaxing the groove. It’s a technique for making a motor pattern stronger by exercising it more often.

People are required to perform a strong skill such as a kettlebell swing or a pushup at regular times throughout the day, according to Pavel.

One of the most essential aspects of this is that you’re not attempting to humiliate yourself. You’re not training to failure because you’re remaining calm.

Simply include sets of technically precise, high-quality repetitions into your daily routine.

It’s an excellent method to hone your strength-movement skills.

In the special operations community, we adopted a similar strategy. (I was a Special Warfare Combat Crewman in Naval Special Operations for six years.)

We used to perform pushups with a stopwatch on our off days in training when pushups were a big part of our day.

We’d do a few simple sets of pushups every 10 minutes to an hour. We’d gradually increase the number of exercises we could perform in a set while maintaining a calm and easy atmosphere.

Our capacity for pushups increased dramatically over time. 

These kinds of intermittent exercises remained a frequent fixture after we completed training, although typically in the form of a pullup bar.

Every team home a unit lived in had a pullup bar in front of it, and we all made it a practice of performing at least a set of pullups every time we went by.

How to Create Intermittent Workouts of Your Own

Trigger exercises are when you perform a set or three of an activity every time you pass by a particular item or are reminded by a timer. (It’s a lot simpler to say than “infrequent.”)

For years, PN coaches have used trigger exercises with certain clients.

Trigger exercises may help you enhance your fitness and motor abilities. They may even be more helpful for some elements of health than a one-hour exercise done once a day (if you’re otherwise inactive), as mentioned above.

Trigger exercises are also a clever method to get a lot of activity on days when you wouldn’t normally have time for a complete workout.

Here’s how you go about it.

Step 1: Decide on a trigger.

This may be anything from a timer to a household item.

I’ve been keeping a kettlebell near the stairs on my level lately. I come across that every time I walk to the kitchen or the restroom.

I perform a couple sets of swings, snatches, or ab exercises every time I pass there.

When a timer went off, I used to put gymnastic rings in my garage and perform a couple sets of pullups every hour.

Make it a habit to do it on a regular basis, whatever you choose.

Ideally, you should move about once per hour. 

If you work from home (as do millions of others), this provides you ample time to concentrate on your job while also preventing your body from fusing with your chair.

It also provides a regular, short respite from the mental rigors of work.

Step 2: Select a workout.

In general, select an exercise that engages a large number of large muscle groups (sorry, guys, curls aren’t a good fit) and can be performed safely without a warmup. It’s not the greatest moment to put your personal best deadlift to the test.

Consider the following exercises:

  • Swings or snatches with a kettlebell (only if you’ve been well-trained in the technique)
  • Squats with a goblet
  • Squats using your own weight
  • Variations on the lunge
  • Pushups
  • Rows with dumbbells
  • Rows of rings
  • Pullups
  • Presses with a high ceiling (if your shoulders do well with them)
  • Pull-aparts and no-moneys are examples of band motions.
  • Roll-outs and planks are examples of ab exercises.

You may also include some of your favorite stretches or mobility exercises into the mix.

Make a list of a few motions and attempt to obtain an even mix of upper and lower body movements.

It’s generally beneficial to perform approximately twice as many repetitions of pulling exercises, like as rows and pull-aparts, as you do pushing actions, such as pushups and presses, for the benefit of your shoulders.

Step 3: Determine the number of repetitions and sets to do.

The exact amount isn’t important here.

You’re just attempting to make physical labor seem effortless. You’re nowhere near failure if you stay at a level where you don’t experience a major “burn.”

As a general rule, doing several sets of lesser reps is preferable than doing one lengthy set with a large number of repetitions. Start with 5 repetitions at a time for most workouts.

The following is an example of a trigger exercise day:

8 a.m.: 5 pushups, followed by 5 dead bugs (per side), for a total of 4 rounds.

5 goblet squats, 10 kettlebell swings, and 5 lunges at 9 a.m. (per side)

10:30 a.m.: 10 band pull-aparts and 5 pushups, 3 rounds total

11:30 a.m.: 4 rounds of 5 goblet squats and 5 dumbbell rows (per side).

1:00 p.m.: 3 rounds of 5 ab wheel roll-outs, 5 banded no-moneys, and 5 pull-aparts

2:30 p.m.: 10-second side planks on each side, followed by 5 dumbbell lunges on each side, for a total of 2 rounds.

3:30 p.m.: 3 rounds of 5 dumbbell rows (per side) and 5 single-leg dumbbell deadlifts (per side).

5:00 p.m.: 2 rounds of 5 dumbbell overhead presses (per side) and 10 band pull-aparts

359 total repetitions

You may, of course, choose one or two exercises, or a single circuit, and repeat them throughout the day.

You don’t have to give up all other forms of exercise.

In fact, don’t do that.

Use trigger exercises in conjunction with traditional training whenever feasible, and go outdoors to play.

This training technique is most effective when combined with the kind of maximum strength training and periodic high-intensity work seen in a gym (even if it’s your own). At the very least, in the long run.

It also works best when combined with active, open-ended, and pleasant outdoor activities. The ones that put you in circumstances where you have to move around a lot.

So go for a genuine trek once in a while (or as frequently as you can).

We’ve heard it’s also healthy for you. 

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

1. Matthews CE, Chen KY, Freedson PS, Buchowski MS, Beech BM, Pate RR, et al. 1. Matthews CE, Chen KY, Freedson PS, Buchowski MS, Beech BM, Pate RR, et al. In the United States, the amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors increased from 2003 to 2004. [Internet] American Journal of Epidemiology. 167(7):875–81, 2008 Apr 1 [cited 2020 Mar 27]. 167/7/875/84501 (https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/167/7/875/84501)

2. Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting – A health danger [Internet]. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Vol. 97, pp. 368–76, 2012. For further information, go to http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2012.05.020.

TPJ Solomon, JP Thyfault A person with type 2 diabetes sits on a chair. [Internet] Diabetes Obes Metab. 15(11):987–92, November 2013. 10.1111/dom.12105 is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dom.12105.

4. EJ Mayer, CM Burchfiel, RH Eckel, JA Marshall, WL Haskell, RF Hamman. In a bicultural population, the involvement of insulin and body fat in the correlations of physical activity with lipids and lipoproteins. The Diabetes Study in the San Luis Valley. 1991 Jul;11(4):973–84 in Arterioscler Thromb [Internet]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1611/01.atv.11.4.973

5. Jensen MD, Sarr MG, Dumesic DA, Southorn PA, Levine JA; Jensen MD, Sarr MG, Dumesic DA, Southorn PA, Levine JA; Jensen MD, Sarr Humans’ regional absorption of meal fatty acids. [Internet] American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dec 2003;285(6):E1282–8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00220.2003/ajpendo.00220.2003/ajpendo.00220.2003/ajpendo.00220.2003/a

Examining the psychological routes to behavior change in a group-based lifestyle program to prevent type 2 diabetes. Critchley CR, Hardie EA, Moore SM. [Internet] Diabetes Care. 35(4):699–705 in April 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc11-1183/dc11-1183/dc11-1183/dc11-1183/dc11-1183/dc11-1183/

Role of active and sedentary activities in the development of depression symptoms in early adolescence, Sund AM, Larsson B, Wichstrm L. 2011 May;46(5):431–41 in Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol [Internet]. http://www.doi.org/10.1007/s00127-010-0208-0

Physical exercise, particularly walking, and cognitive performance in older women. Weuve J, Kang JH, Manson JE, Breteler MMB, Ware JH, Grodstein F. 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1454–61. JAMA [Internet]. 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1454–61. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.292.12.1454

9. Angevaren M, Aufdemkampe G, Verhaar HJJ, Aleman A, Vanhees L. P2.002 Physical activity and enhanced fitness improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment, a Cochrane Systematic Review [Internet]. Vol. 14, Parkinsonism & Related Disorders. 2008. p. S44. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1353-8020(08)70231-1

Taking advantage of cortical plasticity: the impact of physical exercise on cognition and brain function. Kramer AF, Erickson KI. 2007 Aug;11(8):342–8 in Trends Cogn Sci [Internet]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2007.06.009

Role of nonexercise activity thermogenesis in fat gain resistance in humans, Levine JA, Eberhardt NL, Jensen MD. Science, vol. 283, no. 5399, pp. 212–4.

St. Clair (12.) A. Gibson and T. D. Noakes. Complex system integration and dynamic brain control of skeletal muscle activation during exercise in humans have been shown. [Internet] Br J Sports Med. Dec 2004;38(6):797–806. 10.1136/bjsm.2003.009852 is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2003.009852.

In 2012, eight new studies deepen our knowledge of the control of human exercise performance. 13. Noakes TD. The Central Governor Model in 2012: eight new papers deepen our understanding of the regulation of human exercise performance. [Internet] Br J Sports Med. 46(1):1–3 on January 1, 2012. Accessible at https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/46/1/1.short.

14. JM Koolhaas, A. Bartolomucci, B. Buwalda, S. F. de Boer, G. Flügge, S. M. Korte, et al. Stress re-examined: a critical examination of the notion of stress. 2011 Apr;35(5):1291–301 in Neurosci Biobehav Rev [Internet]. The following URL is available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.02.003

Biological foundation of the stress response, by JP Henry. 1992 Jan;27(1):66–83 in Integr Physiol Behav Sci [Internet]. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/bf02691093

Stress and the universal adaption syndrome, Selye H. 1950 Jun 17;1(4667):1383–92. Br Med J [Internet]. 1950 Jun 17;1(4667):1383–92. 10.1136/bmj.1.4667.1383 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.4667.1383 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.4667.1

Stress without Distress [Internet]. Psychopathology of Human Adaptation. 1976. p. 137–46. 17. Selye H. Stress without Distress [Internet]. Psychopathology of Human Adaptation. 1976. p. 137–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-2238-2 9

If you’re a coach or wish to be one…

It’s both an art and a science to guide clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a manner that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.

Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.

The anabolic workout program is a new and innovative way to do workouts. It uses the body’s natural anabolic response to trigger short bursts of intense training that can be repeated as many times as desired.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trigger workout?

A trigger workout is a type of exercise where you do one set of an exercise, rest for a few minutes, then repeat.

Does the 7 minute workout actually work?

 

What are intermittent exercises?

Intermittent exercises are exercises that you do for a short period of time, and then take a break. They help to keep your heart rate up while also giving your body some rest.

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