You’ve read all the forums, researched the nutrition news and done the leg work in the training trenches so you think you know all there is to know about exercising but you may be working on the beta information. Here’s how to get the update you need for alpha results
Analog approach: You’ll love using interval training to burn fat
The upgrade: If you’re a novice, it’ll make you quit
High intensity interval training workouts are very much on brand if fat burning is your sell, but how do they make you feel if you’re not accustomed to serious exercise?
Terribly unhappy and unmotivated to continue, says a study in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. That’s not to say you should abandon the idea of it, you just need to modify for enjoyment.
The researchers also got people to do 15 minutes on the recumbent bike but had them start by going fast then decrease the intensity throughout the workout.
After seven days those people still had very positive memories about their workout.
Those who started off light then ramped up the intensity as they progressed felt worse, loathed the workout and remembered as such the following week.
Take home message: go hard while you’ve got the puff and you’ll be back for more.
Analogue approach: Up your exercise while decreasing calories
The upgrade: Increase exercise while increasing vegetables
Unlike the sheer joy of sweet and sour food, your brain doesn’t respond well to mixed messages when it comes to health.
A paper at the University of Illinois found two actions or two inactions that are the same are way more effective than a mix of positive and negative instructions.
So, telling yourself to exercise more and eat less fatty foods doesn’t gel, you need them both to be one or the other.
“In terms of organizational behavior, if you’re trying to train people to execute a few different behaviors, it would be better to frame it this way rather than mix and match,” says Dolores Albarracin, the study author.
“If you’re trying to create employee health programs, for example, think of it as one package. You don’t want to overload people with information, but you also don’t want to have a message that’s at cross-purposes with itself.”
Just remember that when you’re trying to change your behavior that two negatives do make a positive outcome.
Analog approach: egg white omelets
The upgrade: Embrace the yolk
Even if you’re munching up a two to one ratio of whites to yolks you could be paying to throw away all your gains.
A paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found lifters who ate eggs after a tough workout had a 40% increase in protein synthesis when they ate the yolks compared to those who avoided them.
This means that you’ll put yourself in a stronger position to recover faster than if you tried to stay lean and only ate the whites.
Analog approach: If you can’t train for 15 minutes, make up for it tomorrow
The upgrade: Train for just 7 minutes
Think of exercise like a prescription, you wouldn’t skull all your meds in one sitting or you’d be a ER patron. Instead, you ration them out for the best results.
Okay, you’re forgiven for thinking that if your to-do list reads like an old phone book then its acceptable to give the workout a rain check.
Not true, says a paper in Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, which found a seven-minute workout using 12 body weight moves done at a furious pace lowered body fat and reduced waist circumference in just 6 weeks.
Think you can’t make a change in the time you do your cool down in? You’re wrong.
Analog approach: Washing veggies for 2 minutes
The upgrade: Baking soda destroys pesticides
Poison apples aren’t just in fairy tales anymore; they’ve become abominated into one of the most heavily sprayed fruits that could put your health in jeopardy.
Rinsing them in water, even for a full 2 minutes, does jack to remove the nasty stuff, but soaking them in a baking soda and water solution for 12 minutes completely cleansed them of all residue, says a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
It’s an inexpensive way to offset the cost of buying organic so you can devote a little time to keeping the doc away.
Analog approach: Put those sweat drenched sports legging straight in the wash
The upgrade: Percolate in your stinky tight gear on after training
Okay, so you may not want to do this if you’re near your co-workers (unless you work in construction), but marinating yourself in the aftermath of your previous efforts improved the ability to recover, found a paper in Sports Medicine.
Whether this step back in personal hygiene will earn greater gains over the long term is not clear yet, but it is at least a valid excuse to kick back on the sofa before you strip off for a shower.
Analogue approach: Lift light weights to get toned
The upgrade: Lift even heavier instead
Locker room talk often holds that high-rep workouts with light weights are best for getting lean and ‘toned’ (not that we believe in the term tone), but this lacks any real-world evidence.
A study conducted by Democritus University of Thrace compared a group lifting 40-60% of their one rep max with others lifting between 80-85% of theirs.
The group lifting heavier weights gained greater muscle size and burned more calories than those lifting lighter. You should follow suit.
Analogue approach: hot baths for stiff muscles
The upgrade: Vary your approach using icing and heat therapy
“Icing tends to involve direct area compresses or ice baths,” says Olympic track athlete Steven Benedict. “An ice bath is for a heavy work load day and recovery.
Swelling is brought down and it helps to re-oxygenize the blood and muscles. However, ice baths usually take your body an extra 24 hours to recalibrate due to such a drop in temperature internally.
Some tightness may occur as well. Heat compresses and baths, such as moist heating pads, are for spotting areas to loosen up tension in those muscles.
On the other hand, Epsom salt baths, which are full body soaks like ice baths, can help tremendously with lactic acid flushing and weight management for performance.
This helps keep the body flexible and loose. A con for heat compresses and baths is that dehydration can occur if not used properly which can also lead to cramping.”
Vary your temperatures based on your goals.
Analogue approach: Avoid high-fat, high-calorie nuts
The upgrade: Go nuts…for nuts
A relatively small portion of nuts provides a significant number of calories – which puts many people off consuming them when looking to lose weight.
However, the Loma Linda University School of Public Health tracked 370,000 people over five years and discovered that, in those who consumed the most nuts, there was less weight gained and a lower risk of obesity.
They are more than a worthy inclusion into every fat loss plan and if you can’t stomach the taste then blend them into your smoothies.
Analogue approach: Completely cut carbs to get shredded
The upgrade: Cut calories first
Carbs are public enemy number one, have been for years so keeping them on your plate is blasphemy to your body fat.
That’s only half right. In the short term, carb restriction can help shed some pounds – primarily due to lost water weight.
Pennsylvania State University trialed this. They found those following low-carb diets lost weight over an initial three-month period, but after that they lost no more than those following a much higher-carb plan.
Weight loss is generally fueled by energy expenditure – so cut down on your calorie count before anything else.
Analogue approach: Sit in the sauna and sweat that cold out
The upgrade: Get better, faster with a Vit C and Echinacea tag-team
Taking the old-school approach of sitting in a sauna may provide temporary comfort, but no relief explains Reena Ghildyal, Professor of Microbiology at Canberra University.
“It’s true that humid air makes you more comfortable, but there’s no evidence it does anything for the actual cold,” she starts. “The problem then is, who comes in the sauna with you? It’s a confined place, ideal for spreading your illness around or becoming more ill.”
No thanks. You’re better off sniffing out the science. The American Journal of Medicine found groups who took a 4ml fluid Echinacea extract, kicked their illness to the kerb 2 days earlier than the placebo group.
Pairing this up with Echinacea’s pal, Vit C, athletes can expect to reduce how often they catch a cold by 50%. 1-2g daily keeps those invisible flying bugs at bay.
Analogue approach: 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight will build muscle and retain it in a cut
The upgrade: Drop it and enjoy the other delicious macros
For as long as you’ve been alive, you’ve always heard it’s a gram of protein per pound of your bodyweight. Building muscle? 1g/lb. Dropping fat? 1g/lb.
Taking grandma out to get her hair did…1g/lb of protein, bro. Here’s the truth – not a single study of strength athletes has found benefits of consuming more than 0.72 g/lb of protein says a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Granted, 0.72g probably won’t catch on with your gym crew as it’s nowhere near as memorable, but you’ll have the last laugh.
Start planning where your newfound calories will come from while they chug through another torturous chicken breast.
Analogue approach: Sweat it out with short rest periods for more muscle
The upgrade: Pump your brakes between sets
Explanation: The golden era of bodybuilders might be put on a pedestal and rightfully so. Gone are the sweeping, aesthetic lines of Arnold and his buddies from the 70’s.
Don’t let nostalgia make a fool of you, though. Training the way they did, by taking shorter rest periods between sets, may mean a slight uptick in growth hormone, but it’s erroneous muscle maths to think this equals more gains.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning found a 5% greater increase in muscle thickness when you chill for 2.5 minutes versus 1 minute before hitting it hard again.
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REST PERIODS BETWEEN SETS
7 MINUTE WORKOUT