September 13, 2018

Any kind of movement is good. Period. But if you’re finding that those long, brisk walks are not paying off, or even those regular daily jogs, chances are you could be moving smarter.

Here’s where interval training comes in. And it doesn’t necessarily mean hill sprints or burpee bursts. You are seeing bootcamps, CrossFit, P90x, Obsession, PopSugar all over the place for a reason. They are all variations of interval training and the proof is in the pudding—getting your heartrate up for increasingly “short” spurts while allowing for rest/active recovery time at the same or shorter intervals is a more effective way to burn calories than maintaining the same heartrate over an even longer period. In essence—you can spend less time exercising if you’re doing it correctly and lose more weight.

Not only does this method save time, but it also tends to make the time you are already spending seem faster. Nutrition is an enormous part of shredding fat. As many of you have likely experienced, you can spend hours in the gym, multiple days a week, and still not lose weight, at least not substantial weight in the right places, without making the right decisions in the kitchen. That’s why, once you’ve adjusted to the tracking process, macro counting takes the thinking out of the nutritional component of weight loss. So if it physiologically comes down to calories in/calories out at the right distribution, why do some lose faster than others? In my opinion, nutrition is at least 80% of the battle of the bulge. But if you’re ignoring that other 20%, or are doing it inefficiently, the scale is still likely to crawl, and even stagnate, your intake will have to drop, and you’ll lose that benefit of eating Smarter, not Less—because you’re essentially biting off more than you can chew.

Tracking macros in an extremely effective way to lose fat. Teaching your body to process an adequate distribution of calories with a focus on a specific, tailored percentage of macronutrients means that you’re ingesting food at a balance that is more likely to be converted into energy and, subsequently, fat loss. The fantastic thing about macros is that you can choose what those macros looks like. Because carbs and protein inherently carry 4cals/gram, and fat 9cals/g, those grams can look like what you want them to look like. A calorie is a calorie. It’s the same as asking what weighs more—a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks? But once you pick those pounds apart, the components feel very different. Your body feels that way about the macros you choose, too. So although a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, if you challenge yourself to fill some of those carbs with broccoli instead of just, say Swedish fish, you’re more likely to feel better because of the difference in those micronutrients that we don’t necessarily track—the fiber, and calcium, and iron that does a body good. And if you look at it as a challenge, fill those macros with better micros throughout the week (not always because—let’s be honest—what’s the point of freedom of choice if can’t choose what we like?), then you’re more likely to feel good, digest better, and exercise more efficiently. Which brings us back to interval training—the secret weapon that subsidizes all of our work in the kitchen.

What this looks like:

Advanced athletes:

Slowly increase running/treadmill intervals at higher and lower speeds and/or inclines:

  • 3 min warm up
  • 1 min sprint/fast, 2 min lower speed (still running/jogging)
  • 2 minutes sprint/fast, 2 min lower speed
  • 2 min sprint/fast—1 min lower
  • 3 min sprint/fast, 3 min lower
  • 3 min sprint/fast, 2 min lower,
  • 3 min sprint/fast, 1 min lower
  • 4 min spring/fast, 3 min lower

+continue to build to longer, higher intensity intervals/shorter low intensity, while increasing speed during both higher and lower intervals.

*The same can be used for cycling, stair climber, elliptical, etc…

Lower-impact movers:

Use the same pattern of building, but with faster/slower walking intervals, or increased elevation on treadmills instead of speed, resistance on bikes, ellipticals, etc…

*Bootcamp classes/videos:

This takes all the thinking out of it for you! It’s just Simon Says…That said, Beginners: make sure that you’re choosing programs with modifications. And all athletes should be certain that the routine incorporates adequate warm up and cooldown periods to avoid injury.

*consult health care professional if you have any pre-existing conditions/concerns

 Added Benefit—Time Flies!

These are the kind of techniques experts give to marathon trainers when preparing for long runs. Instead of focusing on 26.2 miles, focus instead on increments. You’ll find that the time will seem faster, especially during “active recovery” as your natural instinct is to relish these easier periods instead of dread them, and that a 40-min run or walk becomes four 10 min intervals with an increasingly sustainable focus.

CHALLENGE: Maximize Macros on the Road and in the Kitchen

The Challenge is two-part this week in order to maximize that excellent work you’re doing in the kitchen.

Nutrition: Swap in some veggies to fill out your carb allotment throughout the week for more energy and endurance building.

Exercise: Incorporate some interval training in your routine, be it hill sprints or faster walking/slower laps around the track. Get that heartrate up for increasing periods of time while minimizing rest/active recovery. It’s an excellent way to build endurance while making that workout seem much shorter!

Bottom Line: MOVE SMARTER!