If you suffer through hours of chronic cardio on the treadmill or spin class in hopes of burning stubborn fat, I’ve got good news – you don’t have to train like you did in high school to get back in shape. In fact, you don’t even want to.
For most people, exercising one or more hours a day isn’t sustainable or even possible. Think about those long P90X workouts – I never got through the first month!
I want to tell you a quick story and then we’ll get back to shortening your workout routine.
In 1847, at the Vienna General Hospital, doctors were killing women. But they didn’t realize it. That same year a young Hungarian-born doctor named Ignatz Semmelweis joined the staff and here’s what he discovered…
There were two maternity wards: one staffed by male doctors, the other staffed by female midwives. The death rate in the midwives maternity ward was far less than in the one staffed by male doctors. At the time, the theory was that birthing mothers were fragile and being seen naked by a male doctor was enough to kill them.
But Semmelweis knew something was wrong. And that’s when he realized, after an autopsy, doctors were carrying “invisible cadaver particles” from dead bodies to the women giving birth. And he believed these particles were killing the women.
So he decided to test his theory. He suggested that all doctors wash their hands in a chlorine solution before assisting a woman giving birth. And when the doctors did, the rate of maternal death plummeted.
Great. Problem solved, right?
His hand-washing procedure was rejected by the medical community, often for non-medical reasons. Some doctors even got insulted, and they refused to believe a “gentleman’s hands could transmit a disease.”
The immediate disbelief from his contemporaries is now known as the “Semmelweis reflex,” which is the tendency of people to reject new evidence because it contradicts established norms and beliefs, aka conventional wisdom.
What’s even sadder is it took another 20 years for hospitals to adopt the hand-washing procedure prior to delivering babies. Countless lives were lost because people refused to accept the truth.
The point is, often times conventional wisdom is wrong.
Exercise is kind of like taking medication. More medication isn’t necessarily better. It can even be deadly.
If you think in terms of “the more I exercise the more calories I burn and the more weight I’ll lose”, you’re thinking conventional wisdom and I’m here to break that conventional wisdom.
How to Exercise Smarter Not Harder
Solution 1: Stand up and walk…often.
Standing and walking slowly vice sitting increases fat burning activity and energy expenditure by two and a half times. Walking and integrating a low-intensity activity into daily life is easier and cheaper than a formal workout at a gym.
We recommend trying to get 10,000 steps in a day. You can measure your steps with an activity tracker like a FitBit
Here are a few ideas to incorporate more movement into your daily life. Do these throughout the day.
• Take walks, especially in the morning and/or during lunch
• Take the stairs
• Stand up and take a 1minute walk every 45-60 minutes
• Turn playing with your kids into exercise
Solution 2: Use structured activity in small 5-15 minute “bursts”
Here are a few ideas to incorporate structured “bursts” into your daily life. Do these throughout the day.
• Jumping rope
• Pull-ups (use my 25 second pull-up workout)
Solution 3: Perform High Intensity Training (HIT)
Perform short, high intensity workouts two to three times a week with at least one full day of active recovery in between workouts. That’s it!
Our bodies need shorter more intense, lower-impact exercise, not longer, less intense exercise.
If you’re working out 5 or 6 days a week, you’re intensity isn’t high enough. The intensity should be to the point that you almost can’t do the same workout the next day.
HIT increases muscle fiber strength, increases aerobic capacity (work ability), increases muscle mitochondria (the main energy production center), increases insulin sensitivity (which makes it easier for your body to burn fat), and builds muscle.
When performing HIT, your body will release Human Growth Hormones (HGH), “the fitness hormone” which promotes muscle growth and burns excessive fat. HGH even plays a role in promoting overall health and longevity. Surprisingly, sprints can rev your metabolism up to 30X of your resting metabolic rate. These brief intense exercises also create genetic changes that increase fat loss.
Here’s what you do:
Try the 30-20-10 model. Choose any type of exercise (running, elliptical, bike, stationary bike, etc.)
- Warm-up (jump rope, jog, etc.) and foam roll for 5-10 minutes
- Do 30 seconds easy, 20 seconds moderate intensity, and 10 second all outs (Intensity is key). Repeat three or four times for a total of 4-5 minutes or working out.
- Cool-down for 2 minutes with some light stretching.
High-intensity is defined as greater than 90 percent of maximum effort. To increase intensity, increase resistance, speed or both.
For a more intense workout (and greater fat burning), do 20 minute, 8-seconds on, 12-seconds rest, cycle protocol repeated 60 times for 20 minutes.
TIP: Don’t let the number of HIT sets stop you. If you aren’t feeling it on a specific day or are starting to hate it, limit the number of sets you do but still perform the workout.
Know that we’ve discussed the first two problems, my next email will cover the third biggest problem – people lack the structure and habits needed to make these changes automatic and permanent.
What else would you like to know about regarding fat loss?