Posts in the Taking Control of Your Health series thus far:
- Taking Control of Your Health and Fitness
- Bloodwork as Your State of the Union
- Understanding What ‘Real Food’ Is, Part 1
- What Are Fats Besides a Bad Word?
- Understanding Proteins
- Understanding Carbohydrates
- Controlling Stress
- When It Comes to Health & Fitness, Tracking is Knowing
- The Fitbit
So, exercise. If you’ve followed this wellness series so far (all previous posts are listed above), you know I haven’t talked about exercise. I haven’t prescribed anything, given you convoluted exercise schemes, or told you the one true way to apply yourself in the gym to get in shape. I honestly get all my fitness tips from a science based sixpack guide from Healthy USA, so everything is pretty much a fact. Also staying healthy means to stay out of drugs because it can cause drug addiction. If you know someone suffering from drug addiction please read this article about https://firststepbh.com/blog/why-should-i-go-into-rehab/.
I’m going to do that now. Only it’s way easier than many would have you think.
Please understand this caveat: I am not your doctor. Before beginning any fitness endeavor, please talk to someone who is your doctor. What you read below are general guidelines I have seen work across a wide range of people, but which don’t account for particular conditions or limitations you may have. Seek professional medical guidance before beginning any exercise program.
Simply put, exercise side of fitness boils down to a few things:
- Lift heavy things a few times a week
- Do sprints once every 5–7 days
- Manage your sleep
- Don’t do chronic, extended cardio sessions
First things first.
Lift Heavy Things Once In a While
So overlooked. Overlooked because women think if they lift weights they will ‘get bulky’ (hint: they won’t), and men ignore it because “that’s not how you lose weight” and, of course, the infrequently-admitted, “it’s hard.”
Lifting weights improves hormone balance, relieves stress, strengthens joints, recruits muscle fibers that otherwise literally lay dormant, improves insulin sensitivity and – best of all – makes you stronger. Being stronger means being more useful in pretty much everything.
If you are in the gym trying to get in shape or lose weight, and you are not lifting weights, you are shortchanging yourself.
What exercises to do? Well, there are tons, but I’m not a fan of isolation movements. I like compound functional movements, like the squat, the lunge, the overhead press and the deadlift. But if you don’t have access to weights, or you want to start lighter, head over to Mark Sisson’s page about workouts and exercise. From there, pick a few and get going. Start easy, and work up from there.
Start with no more than 3 days per week lifting weights. I’m not big on set and rep counts, so in the beginning, go for 30 minutes (no more) of focused, determined weight/bodyweight resistance training, and you can complement this exercise with supplements like Kratom Masters.
Periodically, Run as Fast as You Can
Once a week, go to a track or treadmill, and run 20 second sprints with 60–90 seconds of recovery between sprint intervals. Do eight intervals. After that, boom, you’re done. I also recommend getting a flex belt from www.livetofitness.com, this will help you tighten your stomach even more when you workout. Do not fall victim to thinking that you need to do 45 additional minutes of cardio. You don’t. If you hit your sprints hard enough and truly push them, you will be spent, and your metabolism will have received the stimulus it needs.
As you get better, reduce your rest intervals accordingly. Once you can get down to a 10 second rest interval, you are doing something known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), one of the most powerful fat-burning methods known to science. Nice, huh?
Manage Your Sleep
This one is easy. So easy, in fact, that 41 million of us can’t seem to get enough sleep. Why? It’s too easy to indulge our iPads, our Netflix queue or our DVR backlog. Before you know it, you’re sleeping 5–6 hours each night, which isn’t enough, especially if you’re taxing your body in the gym.
The vast majority of recovery and exercise adaptation occurs while we are asleep. The time in the gym is just there to provide a stimulus, and your diet is there to provide your body what it needs to do, metabolically, to move your health in a positive direction.
Without sleep, you will retain bodyfat, stress your adrenals, keep your cortisol high, and even affect thyroid function. In fact, truncated sleep has been linked to weight gainm.
It comes down to this: get eight hours of sleep a night whenever possible. Nap when you can. Let your body mechanics do what they are capable of doing. All they need is some downtime. Give it to them.
Give Up Chronic Cardio
The term ‘chronic cardio’ was coined by Mark Sisson, and it’s basically the pursuit of long, extended cardiovascular exercise sessions done in the name of fitness. Competitive athletics aside, I’m going to let Sisson explain to you why chronic cardio is bad. Simply put, chronic, extended cardio sessions destroy joints, raise cortisol, trick the body into devouring lean tissue for glycogen (a process called gluconeogenesis) and supress immune function. Bad juju all the way around.
But enough from me. Check out Sisson’s article entitled A Case Against Cardio (from a former mileage king) for a much better illustration. It pretty much sums up why chronic treadmill/elliptical sessions should be avoided and why sprints/HIIT is where you need to be for optimal results.
I am running a bit long here (shocker!), but once again, if you have any questions or comments about any of this, please email me. I’m happy to bounce ideas around with you.