Workout of the Week (WOW)

One of the things you will keep hearing me talk about is not having to go and torture yourself multiple days of the week at the gym doing chronic cardio.  Over the last three years I’ve done a complete 180 from running most days to now walking and doing other resistance workouts, HIIT, etc.  The link below is a great archive article from Mark’s Daily Apple.  There are links to many other articles that will show you how to incorporate new and different movements into your routine.

I know that many of you are thinking that if you don’t go crank out 30-45 minutes at a high heart rate at the gym, you won’t see results, you have to trust me on this one.  I have seen more results by slowing down and focusing more on resistance workouts over the last three years, than I did previously doing my chronic cardio.

Good Luck!!

Link To Article: Mark’s Daily Apple – Workout of the Week

The Benefits of Adding Sprints To Your Workout Routine

In a previous post I talked about the Primal Essential Movements; Push-up, Pull-up, Squat, and Plank.  In addition to these movements, it is recommended to have a session of sprints every 7-10 days.  Don’t let the idea of sprinting turn you off if you haven’t done them since the 40 yard dash back in grade school!

Sprinting is an occasional short burst of maximum effort.  Just like with diet, sprinting will look different for each of you.  Sprinting triggers a cascade of positive neuroendocrine, hormonal, and gene expression events that promote muscle development, fat loss, increased energy and alertness, and delayed aging.  Some other key benefits include:

  • Enhanced insulin sensitivity
  • Improves lipid profiles
  • Boost levels of adaptive hormones, such as testosterone and human growth hormones (HGH)
  • Promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondric size
  • Improves cognition and elevates mood by decreasing inflammation in, and improving oxygen delivery to the brain

Modern research confirms that the health and fitness benefits of sprinting in many ways surpass the benefits of cardiovascular workouts that last several times as long.  Sprinting helps increase the fat-burning potential of muscle, enhances oxygen utilization and maximal oxygen uptake in the lungs, improves the ability to store and preserve glycogen, improves muscle buffering capacity, and extends the “time to fatigue” marker at all levels of intensity.

Developing your sprinting fitness allows you to perform better at both high-intensity and in longer duration, lower intensity exercise.  High-intensity sprinting is the most effective form of physical exercise to promote fat reduction.  Sprinting also enhances protein synthesis by as much as 230%, helping males build or maintain lean muscle mass, and helping females to achieve lean, toned physiques.  Sprinting doesn’t just have to be running, it can be done on a stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, or a swimming pool.  An added benefit to these movements is they are lower to no impact on your body.

Sprint sessions should last between 8-30 seconds.  All types of sprinting will stimulate your fat-burning system and promote lean muscle development and beneficial hormone flow, particularly the release of human growth hormone (HGH).  Sprinting intervals should be long enough to where you catch your breath and are ready to take on another burst.  Work on increasing the speed of your sprints and not the number of reps.  High-intensity workouts should never be done if your body and mind are fatigued and not up for the challenge.

Performing intense exercise in a fasted state and continuing to fast for as long as comfortable after exercise increases the amount of fat burning potential.  Due to the stimulus of the intense workout, your stored energy can be burned at an accelerated rate after exercise, speeding body fat reduction goals.

When you are ready to refuel after the intense workout, adhering to conventional wisdom to refuel with carbs and amino acids immediately after exercise will indeed replenish your glycogen stores.  This kind of refueling prompts the release of insulin, which quickly removes the adaptive hormones and fatty acids from the bloodstream and shuts off ketone burning.  Those with excess body fat may experience difficulty losing fat with this habitual refueling practice, because they are never creating a demand to access stored body fat for use as energy.

Gradually acclimate yourself to conducting intense workouts while fasted.  A low-insulin producing eating pattern must be adhered to for at least 3 weeks or longer, to ensure that fat burning genes are down-regulated.  After an intense fasted workout, you can wait as long as possible before experiencing true hunger sensations, at which time, you can enjoy a nutritious meal.

My Sprinting Workout:

  • 20 minute warm-up on treadmill, usually walking (4-4.2mph), but I will sometimes do a light jog (5.2mph)
  • I begin my sprints at the 20 minute mark
  • 1 Sprint Rep:
    • 30 seconds of sprint at 8mph (tip: I hold the siderails when slowing down after the sprint to reduce the amount of compression on my knees)
    • 90 seconds to catch my breath at 4mph
  • Repeat 5-7 times

This is just an example of what I do.  If you don’t have a treadmill, you can do them at the free fitness center out your front door!  Your speed, time, and reps will be different.  The key is to work in some form of sprinting in your routine.

Here’s to good health and an active lifestyle!!

10 Ways to Make Movement Part of Your Daily Routine

I read this article in my current issue of PALEO Magazine.  The article speaks directly to what I did for so many years, which was to run on the treadmill once per day for 30-45 minutes and then not worry about the rest of the day.  I have changed my routine drastically over the last few years as a result of what I’ve learned.

In a study looking at minimal-intensity physical activity, researchers concluded that “one hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate for the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting. Reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise, when energy expenditure is kept constant.”

Don’t over complicate how you incorporate movement into your day.  Read the short article and learn how you can start making subtle changes today that will absolutely make a difference!!

PALEO Magazine: LINK TO ARTICLE

Exercise is Ineffective for Weight Management

Before I was introduced to The Primal Blueprint, a good day’s workout for me would be to run 30-40 minutes on the treadmill right after work.  This was my “check the box” kind of thinking, and I felt good if I got this time on the treadmill and got a good sweat going.  I would do the same on the weekends with the only difference being I would try to push myself to go longer than 30-40 minutes.

Then my world was flipped upside down after reading the The Primal Blueprint.  My routine for 15+ years certainly had some positive benefits, but there was a whole new way of thinking and doing that is much more beneficial to my overall physical well-being.

One thing I learned that you will hear me talk about over and over again is your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, which is 180-Your Age in beats per minute (BPM).  This is where you achieve optimal aerobic, fat-burning benefits without triggering the fight or flight response.  Sustained workouts over maximum aerobic heart rate, greater than 180-Your Age, burn a greater percentage of glucose instead of fat and triggers the production of stress hormones and lactic acid in muscles.

Gone are the days of the 30-40 minute chronic cardio workouts on the treadmill.  The Primal Blueprint teaches you to slow things down and move more throughout the day.  A simple and immediate step you could take would be to try to walk for 5-15 minutes after each meal.  This will help to mute the pro-longed post-meal blood sugar spike and consequent insulin release.  A Mayo Clinic study showed that a leisurely walk of 1mph (this is hardly moving) for 15 minutes after a meal lowered by half the 2-hour long blood sugar spike that occurs after the typical meal.  My normal routine now consists of walks around the neighborhood, hikes, the occasional “trot” instead of running at a lower heart rate, and the Primal Essential Movements.

A workout conducted in the aerobic heart rate zone (180-Age) will optimize fat metabolism both during the workout and throughout the day.  Some other benefits of getting sufficient aerobic exercise includes:

  • Cardiovascular function is optimized as capillary profusion is increased
  • Muscle mitochondria multiply, function more efficiently, and get better at burning fat
  • Stroke volume of the heart increases (amount of blood pumped with each beat)
  • Lung capacity improves as a function of receiving more oxygen from the cardiovascular system

Chronic Exercise, which would be workouts where your heart rate is at levels greater than 180-Age, train the body to prefer glucose as fuel, both during exercise and throughout the day.  A chronic cardio pattern has been shown to obstruct immune system function, destroy white blood cells, elevate cortisol levels, suppress testosterone levels, and trigger chronic/systemic inflammation.  When workouts are above the optimal fat-burning zone (180-Age), the body begins to burn a greater percentage of glucose for fuel, which leads to sugar cravings after the workout, which leads to spikes in insulin production, which leads to more fat storage!!  Any workout regimen that consistently pushes you above the optimal aerobic level without respecting a proper balance of stress and rest can compromise health and disturb delicate hormone balances.

This was my “Aha” moment!  My 30-40 runs on the treadmill would lead me to being hungry the rest of the night.  I would eat dinner, which wasn’t Primal aligned like I try to be now, and then I would still be hungry later, which would lead to a nightly snack.  I did this thinking it was okay because I had worked out.  I used to be one of those people who said, “I workout so I can eat, drink, etc.”.  Now I have learned why I still continued to have the 10-12 pound roller coaster rides with my weight.  Since adopting the Primal Lifestyle, I have been able to become fat adapted, maintain a consistent weight, shed some excess body fat and created a much more enjoyable way of incorporating exercise into my life.

In addition to moving more throughout the day, The Primal Blueprint has what is called the Primal Essential Movements; Push-Up, Pull-Up, Plank and Squat.  All of these, with maybe the exception of pull-ups, can be done with your own body weight and without ever leaving your house.  Do not be turned off if you haven’t done a push-up since you had to for gym class.  It’s ok!!  We all have to start somewhere, but the key is to START!!!

The links below will take you to videos done by Mark Sisson, creator of The Primal Blueprint, which will show you the progression for each of the Primal Essential Movements.  That’s right, progression!  Meaning he will show you how to do each one no matter if it’s your first time, or if you are an expert.  Don’t think these movements won’t give you a workout.  I am doing two sets at various levels for each exercise and I can assure you my heart rate is pumping!  These exercises will also help to build muscle, which is extremely important to do going into the back half of your life!

Get out and move!!!

Pull-Up Progression

Plank Progression

Push-Up Progression

Squat Progression

Is The Primal Lifestyle For You??

The stretch from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is one filled with family, friends and indulging on food and libations.  So what exactly is a New Year’s Resolution.  It is a tradition in the Western Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

I make reference to the New Year’s Resolution because with it being the middle of January, fitness centers around America are slowly becoming less and less crowded as we inch our way to February.  In a 2014 report, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

Always at the top of the list for resolutions is to lose weight and exercise more.  People start the year off with great intentions.  They’re doing their best to workout every day, eat more veggies, cut out sweets, and on and on.  As mentioned in the stat above, people tend to go back to their normal ways because they truly did make unrealistic goals and tried to bite off more than they could chew.  It’s not easy to go from your normal lifestyle that you’ve been working on for many years and then all of sudden come January 1st you are going to do a 180 and adopt it 100% and feel great.  Once people get sick of their new “diet” or the chronic cardio sessions on the treadmill, they slowly revert back to their old ways.

I have been working on living a Primal Lifestyle now for almost three years.  I have embraced this because of the simplicity of it once you understand the basic principles.  Finding your way here is a much more gradual process than the 180 degree change on January 1st!  There are three main principles to grasp:

  1. Eat Primal “Whole” Foods
  2. Ditch Toxic Modern Foods
  3. Exercise Primally

Eating Primal foods means you can eat meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  All of these foods are nutritious, highly satisfying, and promote stabilized energy levels and efficient burning of stored body fat for energy.  You will learn to become a fat burning machine versus being carbohydrate dependent.  No more “Carb Crashes”!

The excessive intake of processed carbohydrates and chemically altered fats in the Standard American Diet (SAD) may be the most health destructive element in modern life.  Excess insulin production from a high carb diet leads to fatigue, burnout, disease, life-long weight gain, and a continued dependency on additional health-compromising carbs!  You should seriously consider eliminating the following foods from your diet:

  • Sugars and Sweetened Beverages
  • Grains
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Processed and Packaged Foods

Exercising Primally doesn’t have to mean you beat yourself up each day at the gym and run like a crazy person on the treadmill, which is what I did for many years thinking I was doing the right thing.  What is great about Primal exercise is that it is much easier to fit into a busier lifestyle.  These are the core elements you try to follow:

  • Increase daily low-intensity aerobic workouts like walking, hiking, easy cycling, jogging, etc.
  • Shoot for 2 strength sessions each week lasting no more than 30 minutes.  You don’t even need to go to the gym, you can focus on the four Primal Essential Movements:
    • Pull-Ups
    • Push-Ups
    • Plank
    • Squats
  • Once every 7-10 days, push yourself to do sprints lasting 8-30 seconds for 20-30 minutes.  You can do this on a treadmill, or go outside and do them.

hiking

If you can adopt this simple exercise routine, it will help to optimize fat metabolism, delay the aging process, build and maintain lean muscle mass, and develop lifelong functional fitness.  This approach to fitness can deliver maximum results taking up less time and less suffering!