As a health and fitness professional I field a lot of questions that revolve around the “what’s the BEST” topic. Everyone wants to know the BEST, but it’s an awkward question to answer and maybe even the wrong question to be asking. The best for what? The best for whom? And for each best recommendation that you might hear about or read about in the media, even if it’s wrong for you, there might be some truth in it.
So you may be exercising and eating all wrong, for YOU and your goals.
And the fitness field sure does lead to some interesting ideas posing as “the truth”.
For instance, here’s a sample taken from questions I receive:
- Is running several miles per day the key to getting fit?
- Is doing a ton of long, slow distance (LSD) running absolutely necessary?
- Is lifting the heaviest weights you possibly can the best way to get really strong and fit?
- Will eating five or six times per day crank up my metabolism?
- Will training one part of my body today and another part tomorrow prevent over-training?
- Is working out only 2-3 times per week the fastest way to make progress?
While there are pieces of truth in all these questions, there are also pieces of untruths. Let’s take one of these, the one about running and metabolism, which is one of the most frequent questions I get. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell me they are training for a marathon, or even a half marathon, and yet they aren’t losing any weight.
For example, long, slow cardio may make you feel good, but if you want to “STEP UP” your metabolism, you’re far better off doing a very hard, very vigorous workout that calls upon all your physical and mental reserves. You’re better off with a short workout that will never get easy, no matter how often you do it.
Consider the sprinter. Her body is lean, muscular, and powerful. But it is rare to find a long-distance cardio person who is well muscled. They may be lean, but there’s no power. Not only that, after a period of time they may end up suffering from hip, knee, ankle, and lower-back pain, particularly if their technique isn’t good.
Why? All the pounding on the joints takes a tremendous toll on the body.
And as I suggested, it depends on YOU and your goals. Running a lot of miles isn’t the best approach if your goal is fat loss or a change in body composition.
Try these 5 approaches instead:
- Begin doing vigorous bodyweight exercises that force you to lose control of your breathing. If you aren’t getting out of breath when you train, your system is NOT being forced to adapt and change. The harder you are breathing, the more shock to the system. The more “shock” there is, the greater the shake-up in your metabolism.
- Instead of running or bicycling several miles per day for cardio exercise, train like a cheetah. No I didn’t say train eating Cheetos, I said train like a cheetah! Run as hard as you can, at full blast, for as long as you can. Run with all your might. When finished, you’ll be gasping for oxygen. And this gasping is what turns on the fat-burning furnace within. Make sure you’re in appropriate shape before you tackle this one.
- Practice deep breathing. The deeper you breathe, the more oxygen in your system. The more oxygen in your system, the faster your metabolism. Don’t just get your deep breathing from vigorous exercise. Get if from the act of deep breathing itself, done all day long.
- Eat plenty of fiber-rich, water-content foods while avoiding starchy foods most of the time.
- Change the mental picture you have of yourself. As you see yourself in your mind’s eye, so you become.
While #4 and #5 aren’t about exercising per se, coupled with the first three suggestions, they’ll surely help you make progress.
So always remember, it’s about you and your goals and what exercise and diet plans will help you reach them in the safest, most efficient ways possible.