Building the Base – Structuring Fitness Around Your Physiological Needs
We all know the importance of regular exercise and the host of benefits it can provide. The lack of clarity remains around how much is too much, and how much is too little. Where is that sweet spot that leads you to the results you are seeking without pushing too far and overtraining? Research suggests that you need at least twenty minutes of structured exercise per day if you want to live a long time. This needs to be coupled with consistent bouts of low-intensity movement throughout the day, which has been our daily focus throughout the first few weeks of the challenge. To take things to the next level and “look good naked,” you can follow the minimum effective dose of exercise to maximize longevity – at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week with about 20 to 30 minutes of that as vigorous, high-intensity activity. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is when you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat. Think of it this way: you’re working at a moderate intensity if you’re able to talk but unable to sing the words to a song during the activity. Vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is when you’re breathing hard and fast, your muscles are burning, and your heart rate has increased significantly. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Keep in mind that any exercise over 450 minutes/week or >1 hour per day has been shown to plateau results meaning more is not necessarily better.
The next important piece to this fitness equation is what types of exercise to include in the weekly sessions. In order to optimize body fat levels for lean composition without affecting hormones, gaining ideal muscle mass to be functionally strong but not overly bulky and anabolic like a bodybuilder, and enough cardiovascular fitness to be vibrant but not so much that you are burnout, you need to program exercise sessions for the ideal dose of training for cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, strength, mitochondrial density, metabolic efficiency, and stamina. Your fitness guidelines for this six-week challenge have been designed around these principles and now is your opportunity to dive a little deeper to learn more.
Cardiovascular fitness can be determined based on VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake, or maximal aerobic capacity) which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize. Simply put, it is your maximum rate of oxygen consumption during intense exercise, and it’s highly correlated with overall fitness, health, and longevity. On a physiological level, it is the body’s ability to deliver oxygen/nutrient-rich blood to working muscles during sustained activity and the ability of those muscles to repeat a movement over a period of time.
What to do:
For the minimum effective dose of cardiovascular fitness, perform five intense four-minute interval training sessions with each effort followed by four minutes of rest and a very easy pace. The mode can be running, biking, rowing, swimming, etc. Do this once every two weeks.
Why it works:
A 2014 study found that the minimum effective dose for maintenance of cardiovascular fitness is five four-minute high-intensity rounds at 87 to 97 percent of your maximum heart rate, with approximately four minutes of rest or low activity after each round to allow you to recover sufficiently.
What not to do:
Avoid “black hole training” which is the phenomenon when workouts that are supposed to have variations in pace instead get performed at one single speed. As a result, most training sessions end up being performed at identical intensity, workout after workout, day after day. There is a tendency to run too hard on easy days and too easy on hard days. Over time this can lead to poor recovery, lack of performance improvements, higher risk of injury, disrupted hormones, chronic disease, and resistance to fat loss.
Muscular Endurance and Aerobic Capacity
Muscular endurance is the maximum amount of work your muscles can endure and aerobic capacity is the maximum amount of time you can work while keeping your force output high.
How to do it:
Tabata sets are the gold standard for combining muscular strength and aerobic capacity. The ideal layout is four-minute rounds of going all-out for twenty seconds, resting for ten seconds, and repeating. Exercise choices include bodyweight burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and squat thrusts, but you could also engage in treadmill or outdoor running, rowing, kettlebell swings, or cycling. Perform 2-3 Tabata sets 2x per week.
Why it works:
In one study, participants performed one four-minute Tabata session with a single exercise four times a week for four weeks. Another study found massive gains in muscle endurance and aerobic capacity with 16 minutes of Tabata exercise per week compared to four steady-state 30-minute treadmill exercise protocols per week in the control group.
Optimized Fat Burning, Metabolic Efficiency, and Blood Sugar Control
Maximizing the body’s ability to generate ketones and burn fatty acids as a primary source of fuel, while avoiding frequent fluctuations in blood sugar. You have begun to master this habit with the daily “Grease the Groove” routine of movement reminders throughout the day. Way to go!
How to do it:
Simple steps to turning yourself into a fat-burning machine:
- Do one short, aerobic workout as many mornings as possible a week, preferably in an overnight fasted state
- Avoid frequent snacking
- Save all carb intake for the end of the day and up until that point eat high amounts of healthy fats with moderate amounts of proteins
- Stay mildly physically active all day long
- Build resilience by exposing your body to frequent fluctuations in cold and hot temperatures.
Why it works:
Research shows that you can even get excellent blood glucose-controlling results with something as simple as a 15-minute walk after your main meal of the day.
The ability to move at low-to-moderate intensities for 90+ minutes. At about the 90-minute mark when your glycogen levels become depleted and you must significantly begin to rely upon it as a fuel.
How to do it:
One to two times per month, go do something long, like a backpack hike, a big bike ride, a Bikram yoga session, or anything else that combines low-to-moderate physical activity intensities, endurance, and mental focus.
Why it works:
Stamina isn’t really necessary for looking good naked or living a long time, but I personally like to know that if necessary I could complete long-distance feats. The human body is actually quite good at going for long periods of time and only requires brief dips and forays into stamina.
Training Considerations for Women
Men and women are not the same, and hormones play a huge factor in aspects such as weight loss, training output, recovery, etc. This is why it is important to fully understand your sex’s natural response to exercise and when it’s time to push hard or rest.
The Basic Gadgets We Use
Let’s begin with the simple and easy-to-use tools that are indispensable to have in your suitcase, car, home office, park, basement, backyard, or anywhere else a “pop-up gym” or minimalist exercise approach is required. The world is your (training) oyster!
Altitude Training Mask
A wearable device that loads the respiratory muscles by adding friction to inhaled air. Increasing your breathing load while working out is like lifting weights for your breathing muscles – more breathing power will supercharge your stamina and endurance.
Blood Flow Restriction Straps – BFR Bands
Studies show that practical blood flow restriction training can increase muscle protein synthesis, NOS-1 expression, and mTOR signaling, resulting in increased muscle growth.
Core Sliders – Elite Sports
Lightweight sliders that can be used for training strength, mobility, and movement.
Elastic Bands – Perform Better
Elastic bands are used for adding resistance to any movement. A great option for training while traveling.
The first and only backpack designed to serve as a weight training pack. The EmPack comes with two water reservoirs that can add up to 30 pounds of resistance, and has straps for all sorts of different grips. Can be used to add weight to a huge variety of movements while on the go.
Discount Code: GREENFIELD (10% off)
Grip Trainer – Captains of Crush
Used to train and improve grip strength. Can be used in the car for a little extra training during your commute.
Advantageous for simulating running and eccentric contractions in minimal space.
Kettlebell – Kettlebell Kings
Kettlebells are favored over dumbells due to their added instability.
Can be used for slams, throwing, pickups, carries, and other strongman-type conditioning.
Grip tool that amplifies the effects of bodyweight exercise. Can be used for any time/anyplace workouts.
PowerLung Resisted Breathing Device – PowerLung Inc.
Oral device designed to strengthen lungs by adding resistance to breathing.
A convenient tool to improve your breathing habits. The Relaxator provides an adjustable level of resistance when you exhale, which helps you train optimal breathing with a resulting increase in your oxygen uptake.
Rings are adjustable and can be hung anywhere, making the more versatile than a pull-up bar. They also add a degree of instability that pull-up bars can’t offer.
Used for adding instability to bodyweight movements for extra core strength, balance, and coordination.
TRX Suspension Trainer
Portable training system that can be used as an all-in-one gym. Useful for a wide range of bodyweight exercises including rows, push-ups, assisted squats, and more.
Can be used to add extra resistance to basic bodyweight exercises like squats, dips, and push-ups. Great to use on walks for added conditioning.
Tool for balance training which improves core strength, posture, and coordination.
Underwater Audio Player
Waterproof mp3 player used to be for cold showers and beyond.
5 LITTLE-KNOWN WAYS TO BIOHACK WORKOUTS, ENHANCE EXERCISE PRODUCTIVITY, & MAXIMIZE FITNESS
Biohacked Workout #1: Cold Water Swimming + Hypoxia + Weights
Pro surfer and fitness icon Laird Hamilton first popularized the concept of carrying rocks, kettlebells, and dumbbells underwater, and author Neil Strauss (the same guy who taught me about these crazy little miracle berries) introduced me to these types of water workouts during a longevity conference in Los Angeles.
The basic workout consists of holding your breath underwater in a pool, river or lake, treading water, running, walking, doing explosive squats and sprints or simply swimming underwater with a weight held to your chest, your side or between your legs.
Even in the absence of long breath holds or cold water, these types of workouts build strength, stress resilience, mental focus, and lung capacity all at the same time. But when combined with the calorie-burning and positive cardiovascular effects of cold water exposure, and the growth hormone and enhanced oxygen utilization benefits of breath-holding, these underwater workouts become all the more potent. Not to mention the benefit of muscular training with low joint impact. Use caution and NEVER swim alone when trying this routine.
- Get in a body of water, preferably a cold, outdoor pool, lake or river with a 10-pound dumbbell.
- Hold the dumbbell to your chest and attempt to swim underwater about 25 meters, or to the other end of the pool.
- Come back to where you started, but this time on your back in a seated position with your feet above the surface of the water, treading water with your hands, holding your head above water, and clutching the dumbbell between your thighs.
- Repeat for 3-5 rounds.
What To Expect
Better breath-holding capacity, increased fat burning due to cold temperatures, and improved tolerance to lactic acid/lactic acid buffering capacity.
Biohacked Workout #2: Sauna + Resisted Breath Training + Yoga or Body Weight Exercises
I often use a hot, insulated, infrared sauna for heat acclimation training and detox. But rather than simply sitting cross-legged in the sauna and staring at the wall, I’ve instead been working on my mobility, isometric strength, and inspiratory and expiratory muscle capacity by also including yoga and resisted breathing during my 30-minute forays into one very sweaty “pain cave”.
First, I preheat the sauna while I warm up my body with a 20-30 minute run, bike ride, or weight training routine. I also use high-dose niacin to enhance fat cell lipolysis during the subsequent sauna routine. Then I go into the sauna, put on a resisted breath training mask, and perform a routine similar to the one below.
- 5 repetitions of yoga pose chaturanga dandasana
- 1 round of yoga sun salutations
- Repeat chaturanga to sun salutations three times
- 10 bodyweight squats
- 1 repetition of chaturanga
- 60-second isometric lunge hold on right leg
- 1 repetition of chaturanga
- 60-second isometric lunge hold on left leg
- Repeat squats, chaturanga, and lunge holds three times
- Finish with 5 minutes of box breathing while still wearing mask
What To Expect
Increased inspiratory, expiratory and diaphragmatic muscular endurance; increased production of heat shock proteins, cooling capabilities, and stress tolerance; detoxification; increased production of nitric oxide; and improved mobility.
Biohacked Workout #3: Foam Rolling + Resisted Breath Training + Calisthenics
I’m a big, big fan of the frequent use of a foam roller to keep injuries at bay and to keep the body mobile. Problem is, the 20-45 minutes it takes to perform a full body foam rolling routine are 20-45 minutes that I’m not able to spend “getting fit”. So when I do my foam rolling routine, (which I perform two times per week), I put on a podcast or an audiobook, wear a resisted breath training mask and inject calisthenic exercises into my rolling so that I am able to achieve injury prevention, breath training, and cardiovascular exercise all at once.
Perform 20-30 “passes” with the foam roller on each muscle group outlined below. One “pass” means would mean rolling up the muscle group and back down the muscle group one time. Complete each station below once, progressing from one station to the next with minimal rest (videos of movements can be found here).
- Station 1: 10 burpees. Foam roll Achilles and calf R side.
- Station 2: 10 burpees. Foam roll Achilles and calf L side.
- Station 3: Foam roll hamstring R side. 20 high leg swings R leg forward to backward.
- Station 4: Foam roll hamstring L side. 20 high leg swings L leg forward to backward.
- Station 5: 10 burpees. Foam roll R outside of the hip.
- Station 6: 10 burpees. Foam roll L outside of the hip.
- Station 7: Foam roll IT band R side. 20 side-to-side leg swings R leg.
- Station 8: Foam roll IT band L side. 20 side-to-side leg swings L leg.
- Station 9: 10 burpees. Foam roll R adductors/inside of thighs.
- Station 10: 10 burpees. Foam roll L adductors/inside of thighs.
- Station 11: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll back bottom-to-top.
- Station 12: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll the entire R shoulder complex.
- Station 13: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll the entire L shoulder complex.
- Station 14: 10 burpees. Foam roll neck (back, L side, R side)
- Station 15: 10 burpees. Foam roll the entire front of the quads.
Bonus: End with 5 minutes of inversion.
Bonus x 2: Do the entire routine in a sauna.
What To Expect
Improved cardiovascular fitness, fewer injuries, more mobility, increased muscular endurance, and a big dump of feel-good neurotransmitters.
Biohacked Workout #4: Hiking + Weighted Vest + Resisted Breath Training
I love to get out in nature and hike, especially with my kids, but frankly, for anyone who’s gotten into pretty good shape, hiking is not an extremely strenuous activity. However, once you add extra weight in the form of a weighted vest or weighted backpack and add resisted breath training with a mask, hiking becomes a much more challenging cardiovascular and strength-building routine.
The concept is pretty simple: put on weight (usually about 1/3 to 1/4 of your body weight is a good amount of weight to achieve a significant training effect), put on a mask (optional, but certainly good for introducing even more difficulty), and then start hiking. If the going gets so steep that you find you need extra air, you can always remove the mask, then put it back on for the downhills. The extra weight? Well, you’re stuck with it. Enjoy.
What To Expect
A big strength-building challenge for your glutes and hamstrings, cardiovascular training effects, increased inspiratory, expiratory and diaphragmatic muscular endurance, time spent in nature, and the thrill of knowing that at any moment you may get tackled by a park ranger who thinks you are a terrorist.
Biohacked Workout #5: Walking + Electrostimulation + Sprinting
In my home office, I have a manual treadmill in front of my standing desk. Although I typically use the treadmill for easy walking during phone calls or consults, I also have an upper-body strength training and lower-body aerobic routine that I occasionally perform on the same treadmill. For this workout, you’ll need an electrostimulation (EMS) device, a few of which are listed in your resources. You can also play around with variations on this workout, such as using a stationary bicycle instead of a treadmill, or using the EMS on your lower body instead of your upper body and doing the workout on a rowing machine.
- Attach electrodes to your biceps and triceps, to your chest and shoulders, to your abs, or to any upper body muscle series that you want to target.
- Set the EMS device in strength/power training mode so that it’s “grabbing” as many muscle fibers as possible, which it will typically do for 10-30 seconds before giving you about 10-30 seconds of recovery.
- While the EMS device is doing the stimulation of your upper body, walk on the treadmill.
- While the EMS device is giving you your recovery periods, run or sprint on the treadmill.
- Repeat for the entire EMS session, which will typically last 20-30 minutes.
Warning: For this routine, you’ll probably need to reinforce the electrodes with ace bandages or some other kind of wrap to ensure they don’t fall off while you run. If you think like me, you’ve probably already realized you could put on an elevation training mask for this routine if you want an even bigger challenge.
What To Expect
Upper body muscular strength and power building, often accompanied by some soreness afterward if you’re not accustomed to EMS, an increase in cardiovascular and running performance, and a big increase in pain tolerance.
In all honesty, when it comes to this stuff, I don’t follow any hard and fast rules. Sometimes I completely unplug, strap on some running shoes, and hit the trail. And sometimes I’ve got just 20 minutes to do an extremely high-quality workout, so I instead get on a treadmill with an electrostimulation unit and a resistance training mask. It all depends on what the moment requires. Would the former be easier and less logistically challenging? Sure. But sometimes you get results that correspond to the effort you put in, and in this example, my results will be far superior to the latter, even if it seems inconvenient or it hurts a little bit.
Either way, I can definitely guarantee that by including the five workouts described above as staples sprinkled through my monthly training routine, I’m able to kill many birds with one stone and have much more time left over for other activities. Even if it does take a little bit more setup.
This week’s call info
Tuesday, March 7th at 10:30 am CST
Speaker: Coach Joe J
Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4636180446