When you sign up for a boot-camp class, you know exactly what you’re in for: A full-body workout that will leave you lying in a pile of your own sweat at the end of the hour. But, the extreme intensity does a whole lot of good for your body. Boasting a wide range of exercises—from push-ups and squats to running and jumping—boot-camp workouts keep your body guessing about what’s coming next. Even though they’ve been around for years—they were modeled after military basic training, after all!—the benefits never get old, and there are a few particular science-backed reasons to enlist in a class.
Here are 3 scientific reasons boot-camp classes are the answer to your fitness goals.
1. They prepare you for the real world
When you take a boot-camp class, you’re not just getting a killer workout—you’re also preparing your body for real-world activities like hauling heavy groceries up four flights of stairs to your apartment or running to catch the bus. The functional total-body training relies on calisthenics—AKA body exercises that generally don’t use weights, machines, or other tools—and the effect goes beyond just building your strength like a typical gym workout does, John Porcari, PhD, professor of exercise and sports science at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, told Time. “You’re learning to carry your body around, not a bunch of weights,” he said.
2. You burn (lots and lots of!) calories
If you think you burn plenty of calories during your other workouts, you’re probably not wrong, but just wait for this fitness bomb: In a study, Dr. Porcari found that those who take boot-camp classes burn an average of 10 calories per minute—about as much as you would cycling or swimming, Time reported. So by the end of an hour-long sweat sesh, you might have burned upwards of 600 calories.
3. Your heart rate goes way up
Since boot-camp classes tend to mix short breaks into the workout, they’re considered a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). According to Porcari, the average heart rate of someone during the workout is at 77 percent of maximum—a rate that will boost your physical fitness (80 percent is what qualifies a class as HIIT). Some people even hit 91 percent. Yeah, that’s one fast-beating, hard-working heart.
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