Did you know, on average, people across the globe experience a 2-4% decline in their resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. I’ve already lost 10% But today im going to teach you that there’s hope. Albeit.
How’s that metabolism?
Indeed, for most people these declines are all but definite. However, if your reading this you’re not most people. You’ve got access to me and my programs available on my site. And of you’ve signed up access to the weekly newsletter, we’re going to teach you how to off-set Metabolic decline.
The rise of The Metcon.
When it comes to metabolism and muscle preserving strategies, intense exercise is the king. The sudden explosion of crossfit is and example. With it, you get to keep that muscle mass and fuel the metabolism. Without it, you get to politely smile while you wave bye-bye like the penguins of Madagascar to your youth, muscle strength, lean mass, and metabolic rate. (Sorry)
Now, the big question is this; what qualifies as “intense exercise” Well, certainly resistance training (strength training) is one of the biggies. We all know that However, there are a host of other types. Here are a few, of the activities that ive prescribed to my clients:
- Interval Running, Climbing, Cycling, and Rowing
- Resistance Circuits
- Body Weight Circuits
- Rope Jumping (Skipping)
- Running Hills
- Burpees, Jumping Jacks, and Other Plyometrics
- Medicine Ball Tosses and Rotations
- Kettlebell Exercises
- Tire Flipping, Fireman Carries, Farmers Walking and Other Strongman Activities
Basically, any physically demanding task that a) incorporates many muscle groups and b) is done near your maximum heart rate qualifies. So feel free to invent your own form of intense exercise.
Which is why my accelerated bodybuilding program is granting such good results.
when you do an intense bout of exercise, you overload your muscles. This overload helps stimulate protein turnover, protein building, and gains in lean mass (or at least lean mass preservation). But what about the cardiovascular system?
Well, with all those muscles doing so much work, the cardiovascular system MUST respond by pumping blood faster and delivering a lot of oxygen to your working muscles.
In addition, your metabolic rate also benefits from the increased oxygen consumption.
After the Sweat.
Now, it should be clear that DURING exercise, your oxygen demands are high. That’s why you’re breathing so heavy. You’re getting rid of the carbon dioxide your cells are producing at a high rate and you’re taking in additional liters of oxygen.
However, the real key to intense exercise is what happens AFTER your exercise session.
If your exercise is intense enough, your oxygen demand remains elevated for well over 6 to 48 hours. With low intensity cardio, you only benefit from a few minutes of additional oxygen demand (and metabolic activity).
And remember, a bigger oxygen demand means more calories burned. So it’s only your high intensity activity that boosts your metabolism 24-7.
Now, your possibly wondering– why is oxygen consumption (and calorie burn) elevated after exercise?.
Well, after an intense workout, it’s necessary for the body to metabolize additional fuel, replenish energy stores, and reload the depleted oxygen stores in the muscle and blood. Further, oxygen consumption (and metabolism) is boosted due to:
- Higher body temperature
- Increased activity of the heart and respiratory muscles
- Elevated levels of hormones that increase metabolic activity
- Energy absorbing pathways and the conversion of things like lactate into glucose or amino acids
- Recovery of muscle damage
So, with intense exercise, more oxygen is being consumed (and energy being used) during the exercise, after the exercise, and pretty much the rest of the day.
Interestingly, you burn a lot of fat too, during this post-exercise period.
I know how cool – we’re burning tons of fat even after we leave the gym!
Beyond fat burning, when you do high intensity activity regularly, additional muscle will be developed. This creates an even further metabolic demand for the body and more energy is utilized for normal daily activities, even at rest.
Hey, only when you train with high intensity on a regular basis do you benefit from an increased thermic effect of feeding. More on this in another post.
So, if you want to avoid becoming another metabolic sloth or obesity statistic, the bulk of your exercise should be of the high intensity kind. Its fast cheap and effective, I mean look at how many people are shredded in the crossfit community!! Diet does play an extremely important role here but I dont think there is another group of fitness enthusiasts all that shredded.
But Going slow not the way to go?
With all the new information you have about high intensity training and conditioning – one may now believe that lower intensity exercise and normal activities of daily living are worthless.
Not so fast.
With low intensity exercise, or any easy physical activity, more oxygen is consumed (and energy is being used) during the exercise itself.
However you don’t get that post-exercise, all-day metabolic boost. Nor do you build much muscle. So, from the “metabolic therapy” aspect of things, low intensity activity doesn’t deliver the most bang for your buck.
But it’s an excellent recovery tool and brilliant for beginners.
The high intensity bouts boost muscle mass. And they also create 24-hour metabolism magic.
the low intensity exercise does offer some additional calorie burning as well as improvements in the muscle gain to fat loss ratio when added to an intense exercise plan.
They both have there place.
Indeed, muscular sensitivity to insulin is increased for about 48 hours after a single bout of prolonged low intensity exercise.
This probably explains some of the benefits associated with regular “non-exercise physical activity” during the day (e.g., stairs, walking to the bus, playing with kids, etc.)
Another bonus for long bouts of low intensity exercise is that the synthesis of new fat is temporarily inhibited, probably due to the low insulin levels and increased counter regulatory hormones.
Exercise + nutrition
Problem is, many people think that eating an unhealthy diet can be reversed with more treadmill or, in general, gym-time. It’s a hard habit to break.
As you probably understand by now, sticking with the “I’ll burn the Big Mac off on the treadmill” mentality could actually be doubly disastrous.
More unhealthy food and more low intensity exercise can deteriorate overall health while promoting disease and deplete muscle mass in the long run!
But even with high intensity exercise, you still need to watch your food intake.
During a study, scientists found that even with 3 hours of training per week with an Olympic weight lifting coach and 2 hours of training per week with a body-weight circuit instructor, if participants didn’t control their dietary intake, their results were not much better than if they had not doing anything at all.
Are you surprised? Don’t be. Even the best exercise plan, in the absence of a good nutritional plan, will disappoint.
Bring on the sweat!!
There is one major drawback to high intensity exercise. It’s extremely uncomfortable. Also, many folks seem to get wrapped up in one or two forms of intense activity and get burned out.
Remember, anything that physically challenges the body in an intense manner fits the bill. It doesn’t have to be sprints or burpees.
Find the intense form of exercise that you can handle. Maybe you like doing repeated cartwheels or hitting the daily WOD whatever it is go for it
Another thing, everyone is at a different fitness level. A hike outside might be pushing the anaerobic threshold for one person while it might be active recovery for someone else. Adjust accordingly.
Your body doesn’t know or care if you are:
- On a cardio machine or in a stairwell
- Lifting beer barrels on the weekends or doing barbell deadlifts in the gym with 50 kg plates
It just knows it’s lifting something heavy and needs to recruit muscles and produce energy to meet the muscular demand.
Change of pace.
Another important thing to know is that the body is excellent at adaptation and efficiency. Repeated efforts at the same activity can result in stagnation.
Therefore, if you’ve been doing 3 – 20 minute interval sessions for the last 8 weeks, I guarantee that your body has already adapted. You’re going to have to bump up the interval time. Or the intensity.
Doing activities fast and heavy can help too. Speed can increase muscular recruitment, along with additional loading. Keep that eccentric (negative) movement under control, but feel free and let loose on the concentric (positive) movement.
Exercise selection is another variable factor. Compare a one arm dumbbell preacher curl to a front squat/push press combination. Which is more intense? Which recruits more muscles? Which creates a higher oxygen (and energy) demand?
Preacher curls aren’t useless, heck, Arnold did them all the time. They are great for building better biceps. But, if you have 30 minutes of gym time, you may want to save the preacher curls for your summer vacation to Muscle Beach.
In the end, the goal is to challenge the body in new ways while incorporating many muscle groups. Definitely have fun with it. But remember, it’s supposed to hurt. And it’s supposed to get harder each week.
Are you convinced that high intensity interval exercise is superior?
Now, before we go on – it would be foolish to say that lower intensity aerobic work is worthless. Don’t swear it off just yet.
As many people know, body composition is determined by an interaction between many different factors. Exercise, consistency with exercise, body type, nutrition, sleep, nutrition consistency, supplementation, medications and so on.
The most important factor with exercise is finding the variety that you are likely to stick with for the long-haul.
Ok let’s take all this theory and make it really practical. Here’s how, based on your body type, you might split up your activity if your trying to improve your body composition.
3 hrs/wk of resistance training
30 minutes/wk of high intensity conditioning
30 minutes/wk of low intensity conditioning
4 hrs/wk of resistance training
30 minutes/wk of high intensity conditioning
60 minutes/wk of low intensity conditioning
4 hrs/wk of resistance training
60 minutes/wk of high intensity conditioning
90 minutes/wk of low intensity conditioning
That’s that, overall both “high intensity” and “low intensity” work both have there place at a given time just dont fall into the trap of endlessly running away or to the next fast food shops!
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