The *E-volved Trainee Part 2- Movement
If you have read my previous articles, you have probably gained some awareness of your lifestyle, including exercise and movement. In striving for health, you want to make sure that your exercise program is making deposits into your health bank account instead of withdrawals. The first step is being able to assess when and what type of exercise to do; building a program based on the appropriate situation and modality is key. First, before we talk about what type of movement will help you enhance your health, we need to clarify what the most beneficial situation for training is.
Have you ever eaten something bad or gone out to a party and had too much to drink, or just had a bad night’s sleep and thought that a good workout would fix the way you feel? One of my rules for working out and actually enhancing your health is to be sure you have eaten and slept well before working out. Think about it. You must be recovered in order to get the maximum out of your training session, otherwise you have just added one more stress to your day, Working out can be an added stress if the situation isn’t right. My recommendation is to do your hardest most intense workouts when you have been well fed and have had a quality sleep. So, lower the training intensity, time and loads when eating and sleeping have been compromised. For example: you went to a friend’s house and had a little too much wine and got to bed late. The way you feel the next day might dictate nothing but a long walk and some mobility work. This choice is probably your best bet to ensure that you are not adding another stress to your already “stressful ( alcohol and lack of sleep) evening. If you are really aiming at making some gains and training intensely, then you must plan for healthy meals and a quality night’s sleep.
The Movement Modalities
The four movement modalities that give you the best return for your workout investment are the big lifts, sprinting, walking and sports. The expected results are a healthy heart, joint integrity, and significant gains in muscle mass.
The big lifts. Lift Yes-siree, the latest studies show that muscle mass is the #1 biomarker for health! Lift 1-3 times a week to avoid getting frail. I recommend the big lifts: squat, press, deadlift, power cleans and some pull ups. By the way, the #2 biomarker for health is strength.
Sprinting. Three significant physiological responses to sprinting that are beneficial for your heart are:
- Heart rate variability. Sprinting induces significant heart rate variability, meaning a heart beat that makes the transitions from fast to slow and slow to fast very swiftly, reflecting a good physiological balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
- Hormonal health. Sprinting stimulates your body to secrete healthy hormones and keeps your body in the anabolic zone as well, meaning, you are not breaking down tissue; you are building it.
- Cortisol output control. Sprinting with the correct amount of rest helps avoid a high cortisol output, which contributes to catabolic tissue destruction. The cortisol hormone is secreted when stress is high or when blood sugar is too low.
Sprint hard and fast, and don’t spend more that 45 minutes for the TOTAL workout. We are talking 6-10 efforts here. I recommend short sprints in the beginning 10 to 15 seconds with 4 to 7 times the rest in between. For Example, If you sprint for 10 seconds, give yourself a 1 minute rest. The key to keeping sprinting in a healthy mode is the proper amount of recovery time. This keeps cortisol harnessed and keeps you from getting aerobic. If you do the sprints too close together and lose intensity, you might as well go on a 20 minute run. Remember, if you work out too much in the wrong modality with improper recovery you will find yourself in a situation where “exercise is stress” instead of “a good” scenario.
Walking. I have a new respect for walking; it is my go-to workout. It gives me some quiet time, is safe and a great way to get in a low stress movement. If you didn’t sleep or eat well, then a walk is a great way to get a workout in and not add stress to your day. I recommend 45-60 minutes of walking. If you are super motivated and want to add a twist, a 20 pound weight vest really can enhance the work done when you just can’t muster the energy for other modes of training. Walking is your “default” workout. In any case, try to walk 1 to 2 times a week and swap out a walk for any other modality if your energy or motivation level is low.
Sports. Choose a sport or sports with non-repeating motor pathways. These sports include skiing, surfing, gymnastics. climbing, ball sports and any sport or activity where the movement is non-linear and random. Dance would be another great example of this. The aspects of rhythm and the benefits of moving a joint across all angles of the joint are important forms in your total physical makeup. The other byproduct of doing sports is the fun and play factor. In my book, these are doing things that put a smile on your face!
The overall volume of your training may be less than you think. Assuming that you are well rested and well fed, I recommend lifting 1-3 times a week, performing 2 lifts per session. Make sure you squat or deadlift once a week, especially if you only get the chance to lift once a week. Those lifts employ a lot of muscles and give you the most benefit for your time. Then, get in 1 or 2 short sprint sessions a week and sprinkle in your non-repeating motor pathway sports as the opportunity presents itself. Remember there is always the good ol’ walk that you can throw in at any time! I am assuming that you will do your warm up, mobility work and any therapy movements as needed. Keep your workouts short and doable. If you feel like you need more, the only thing you might add is a SHORT mixed modality workout after your lifting session. It should last no longer than 7-10 minutes and be composed of mostly calisthenics. Also, do not do sprinting and heavy deads or squats on the same day; that combination can really overwork your hamstrings. Monitor how your body feels, and respect the amount of volume you do in your sports activities, as they can really wear you out! Remember, make your workouts a non-stress event, meaning, listen to your body and be prepared for your sessions with good sleep and nutrition.
Workouts should enhance your health. The biggest mistake people make is doing too much, especially when their body is not physically prepared through good nutrition and sleep. I have provided you with some workouts that pack a punch but reduce the potential for overtraining and joint wear. Feed your soul with sports you love that keep you moving in a non-linear fashion. Over time you will be able to monitor the correct volume and types of activity that work best for you. When that happens, you have truly become an E*volved trainee! Remember, your workouts should not wear you down over the long term, they should enhance your ability to be strong, healthy and happy!
*E stands for Eva T. the E-volved trainer!