I am an expert in avoiding exercise. I definitely fall into the kind of thinking that afflicts many Americans. “I’m too busy.” “Working out is boring.” “Working out is too hard.” “It’s cold and I don’t want to move my body today.”
So when I find something related to fitness I actually like doing, then it must be something worth sharing..
It’s a four-minute workout nitric oxide dump workout. If I can tolerate four minutes, then you can definitely tolerate four minutes.
First, a few words of warning. I am NOT suggesting this as any kind of replacement for regular diet and exercise… doctors and nutritionists don’t always agree on everything, but they definitely agree there are no shortcuts to better health. Consider this one idea for the start of a healthier lifestyle.
My wife brought me into the four-minute workout game. This particular workout was developed by Dr. Zach Bush, a triple-board-certified physician with expertise in internal medicine, endocrinology, metabolism and hospice/palliative care.
Dr. Bush has a fancy website, a popular health blog, personalized health products, and on and on… feel free to make your own judgment on him at www.ZachBushMD.com, but we’re just going to focus on the four-minute workout, which my wife first discovered after listening to Dr. Bush as a guest on one of several health-focused podcasts she listens to… I don’t know, I only really listen to movie podcasts. If you don’t like Dr. Bush, there are other fast nitric oxide workouts from other credible folks easily available online.
Anyway, this particular four-minute workout consists of four basic exercises - squats, alternating arm raises, “non-jumping” jacks and shoulder presses. Combined, these exercises work 16 major muscle groups.
Yes, the whole workout takes about four minutes, though ideally it’s suggested you do it at least three times per day with at least two hours in between. So 12-minutes. A little false advertising there, but moving along…
What is nitric oxide?
Nitric oxide is a gas naturally produced in the body that serves as a communication molecule and is stored in the blood vessels. Essentially, it feeds muscles. When you start to exercise and run out of oxygen, your body releases nitric oxide, which opens up blood vessels and increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to that muscle.
In terms of exercise, this process is said to increase opportunity to build muscle. There have been numerous studies on the other potential benefits of nitric oxide, which may include:
• The lowering of blood pressure
• Improved immune function
• Stimulation of blood thinning, decreasing its viscosity and platelet aggregation
• Reduction of inflammation
Now, you can go online and read a bunch about nitric oxide supplements - nitric oxide is synthesized from the amino acid arginine, which you can buy online and in health supplement stores. Protein-rich diets can also increase nitric oxide, but many agree vegetables (beets and leafy greens to name a couple) can provide the best nutritional stimulation of nitric oxide in the body. You can look into that yourself, but definitely consult a doctor before taking new supplements or making any significant dietary changes.
Each of the four exercises are to be done in succession, starting with 10 reps for each at a brisk, steady pace. Eventually you’re encouraged to work up to 20 reps. You run through the four exercises three times each session, which in total should take about four minutes, Don’t push it at first; just go at a pace that’s comfortable and work up your speed. The form is important
Describing workouts are difficult, so definitely check out the video by Zach Bush running through the entire exercise. Google “Zach Bush Four-Minute Workout” or visit:
Exercise #1 - Squat
Speed is more important than the depth of the squat, as it’s important to keep the muscles engaged throughout the reps. Just squat as best you can - I personally can’t squat too far. Keep your feet parallel and pointing forward, about shoulder width apart, And keep your quads engaged.
Exercise #2 - Alternating arm raises
The kids especially like joining in on this exercise. You alternate moving each arm pointing in front of you at about a 90 degree swing, creating a fun “chopping motion.”
Exercise #3 - Non-jumping jacks
You’re basically doing the shoulder raise of a jumping jack without lifting your feet off the ground. The form here is especially important, and like the other exercises, you want to keep your muscles tight and avoid flopping your arms around throughout the reps.
Exercise #4 - Shoulder presses
Lift your arms firmly above your head, like you’re lifting some super heavy weights (but you aren’t!).
Now, it all seems pretty easy on the first runthrough, but by the time you enter your third set of reps, your muscles are going to be tired, and you’ll be tempted to flop your arms around, especially during the non-jumping jacks and shoulder presses. Stay firm and get through it. It’s only a few more seconds!
It can be tiring, but almost anything is doable for four-minutes. My wife tells me to breathe exclusively through my nose, for reasons probably better suited for a whole other column, but there you have it. Our kids have a blast joining in on this exercise regimen, and it’s especially helpful in wearing down the 2 and 4-year-olds. Those kids are way too wild.
I won’t tell you this is the solution to all your health troubles or that it can replace other forms of exercise. But for people like me who have trouble committing to exercise, I can say that I’ve been able to stick with this for much longer than most anything I’ve tried before it. And I’m real lazy.