Achieving Results at the Gym: Part Three
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I do not like to exercise. I repeat, I do not like to exercise, at all. But I drag my sorry ass out of bed and do it anyway. Because I like the way it makes me feel.
I love the way a hardcore workout evaporates all external worries and pulls you into the present moment. The feeling of getting better, stronger and faster is worthwhile and often translates into other areas of life. The way a workout makes the rest of the day more productive is just the cherry on top.
The actual act of doing the work inspires a rejection reflex no matter how hard I try to change it. If only I could get the benefits of exercise without the grunt work. And this desire has always stayed with me. Ever since I started going to the gym for 2-hours a day. Running leisurely on the treadmill while watching Ellen with 27 other “healthy” people never made me feel any less alone in my search for a better way.
Lucky for me, science came along and showed all us gym monkeys that less really is more. If you’re working out for 2 hours a day, it’s fucking overkill. If you’re working out more than 5-6 days a week, you’re wasting precious time. And if you’re working out because you enjoy it, you’re fucking crazy… just kidding, but seriously.
Bottom line, the vast majority of people employ some archaic ideas about fitness. Just like they do food and nutrition. The treadmill is the fitness industry’s equivalent to healthy whole grains in the diet industry. They’re both pure evil masquerading as wholesome and their time in the spotlight is coming to an end.
So what kind of exercise can actually help you lose fat, get cut and save time? I’ll tell you, although you’ll have to find creative ways to get your podcasts in since after this you’ll no longer be running on the treadmill for an hour a day.
Make It Meaningful
If you’re in business of any kind I’m sure you know the term ‘Return on Investment’ or ROI. It matters, for obvious reasons, and the only difference between ROI in business and ROI in life is that one involves money and one involves time.
If you’re spending 2-hour stints at the gym and not gaining muscle and losing weight, or progressing at superman speed toward your goals, you’re not getting a very good ROI.
Exercise should be strategic. For maximum return on investment, every movement you do needs to be meaningful.
What research has shown time and time again is that endurance training is for the birds, it’s totally not worth the time. It’s certainly not the best way to lose fat and might even do more harm than good.
But…but…I hear you, cardio, it’s important right? Well yes, and here’s where the meaningful bit comes in. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is cardio revamped. In a quarter of the time spent plodding away on the treadmill you can get better results with HIIT.
3 Benefits HIIT Has Over Regular Endurance Training
- You keep burning calories even after you’re done
This is like setting up passive income streams and making money while you sleep. Except you’re burning calories instead, for up to 48 hours after a HIIT session you can burn up to 10% more calories, just living life.
- You can lose up to 6 times more bodyfat
If weight loss is your goal then HIIT is your new BFF. You’ll lose way more body fat AND you’ll boost your V02 max which greatly improves your cardiovascular health.
- Your risk of heart disease decreases dramatically
Improved serum lipids, reduced risk of stroke, fewer inflammatory markers and lowered blood pressure are just a few of the benefits that interval training can have for your heart.
Strength Training with Purpose
Lifting heavy things is good. It’s much more desirable than running back and forth at full capacity until you feel like vomiting. But it also has its secrets, and the biggest one: less is more.
Two words sum up what most people have no clue about when it comes to strength training: diminishing return. Working out too much is often a bigger problem than not working out enough. There’s a point where it’s overkill and you’re doing yourself a disservice rather than the opposite.
No matter how fit and strong you are, or how many BCAA’s you take, your body needs sufficient time to recover. Not taking enough recovery time and overtraining can do more damage than good. This might sound weak, but take a look at Tim Ferriss’s experiment where he gained 34lbs in muscle in 4 weeks, from working out twice a week.
There’s even evidence to show that in older adults strength training twice a week didn’t increase strength anymore than once a week sessions in a 9-week period.
For people concerned about the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, strength training sessions for 15-minutes twice a week may be all it takes to negate those effects. By strength training, I mean lifting at your full capacity, none of this 7 lb barbel 10 sets of 20 fluff when you know you can comfortably lift 20lbs.
Quality Over Quantity
Function, speed and time are the most important aspects of quality workouts. The book ‘Body by Science’ details how you can achieve the body you want in as little as 40 minutes per month.
The principles in the book and other resources on hacking exercise to get the most return on investment is quality and control. You and I both know it’s not hard to use momentum to pull a barbel up. Slow, controlled movements are much more difficult, and more effective because they ensure constant load.
Creating more tension in the muscle for the given workload seems simple, and it is in principle, but slowing down intense movements is tough. The results of this type of training speak for themselves. One study compared two groups doing the same exercises, one at a regular pace (10-RM) and the other group slowed down (5-RM). The slow group gained 50% more muscle mass in the same time period, performing the same exercises.
Simplicity and the Minimum Effective Dose
Another key point that Tim Ferriss and Body by Science and the Bulletproof exercise system all have in common is simplicity. In traditional gym settings you’ll always see the circuit, and women especially get trapped in this style of non-effective training. The truth is performing 3-6 different multi joint exercises in one session is the sweet spot, it’s enough.
Three large compound movements ie. squats, bench press, deadlifts per workout is plenty. Done slowly and with purpose these simple exercises will get you results.
Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. It’s like boiling water, you don’t boil water and continue boiling it thinking you’ll derive a better result, this is just wasteful and pointless.
With exercise, the MED is made out to be more complex than it actually is. Like I’ve described above, go slow, keep it simple, lift heavy, incorporate compound movements and do HIIT for cardio and fat loss. When I learned these ways to approach exercise I started getting better results in less time than I was spending before. Sometimes the hardest thing is just keeping it simple.
Increase Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (hgH) is like the elixir of youth. If you can increase hgH you can hack ageing, and these work out methods will do just that. It’s also good important for helping speed up the muscle growth process.
I’ve talked about upping hgH levels before with intermittent fasting . When it comes to boosting gH with exercise you can naturally increase it with HIIT and strength training. Our bodies have three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast and super-fast (clever naming right?) to release hgH you need to engage the super-fast muscle tissues.
According to bodybuilding.com “Only resistance training that is high in intensity, utilizing 8-10 repetitions, heavy resistance and a maximum of one minute rest between sets will maximize serum testosterone and growth hormone levels.”
I’ve personally only reaped the benefits of boosted growth hormone if my sleep is consistent and high-quality. If you’ve got insomnia or other sleep disorders boosting growth hormone won’t do much good until you get your sleep figured out.
The Ideal Strength Training System
I can’t say there’s really an ideal system that’s gonna work for everyone. I personally like the 2-3 days a week of HIIT/strength training with plenty of leisurely nature hikes in between. When you’re busy running a business time is truly of the essence and even if I wanted to maintain my 2-hour daily gym sessions it wouldn’t even be possible at this point.
See, I’m a proponent of sustainability. And when you implement activities that you know you can maintain, your odds for long term success go way up. I never thought I’d be able to maintain 2-hour gym sessions, they bored me to tears and offered few benefits in comparison to the strife. But with short bursts of intense exercise a few times a week, I know that’s something I can maintain for a long time to come.
It’s the same principle as to why diets don’t work. It’s not sustainable to be counting points and calories at every meal. In fact, it’s quite painful and boring. But on the other hand, living life by certain principles and following a few simple rules makes eating well easier than microwaving a Jenny Craig lasagna.
Stop Letting Your Mind Get the Better of You
When I first picked up the 4-hour body by Tim Ferriss I was astounded at what this guy was doing. It confounded me that you could get results from the short workouts he was recommending. But like I said, my quest for being able to work out less is never ending, so I instantly picked it up.
What Tim recommends is far from what most fitness gurus and personal trainers advise. That’s why I was so hesitant to give it a shot. Once I did the results spoke for themselves.
Your mind wants to tell you this is all wrong. No, you need to work out 6 times a week if you want results, Men’s Fitness said so! Just the same as you need to eat 6 small meals a day, which we know is total BS.
Your mind likes to do what it’s used to. So for your mind to wrap itself around pushing you to your absolute limits instead of leisurely going to about 60% of your limits, well it’s gonna fight back on that one.
Your mind doesn’t want you to try new things. It wants you to stick with what you know, and what isn’t getting you the results you want.
Don’t let your mind get in the way of changing how you do things. If you’re used to working out every day it might be hard to cut back so drastically. Take it slow. Don’t all at once go from 6 days to 3 or you might not know what to do with yourself.
What You’ll Do With All the Time You’re Saving
If you’re like I was and spending 8-10 hours a week at the gym, you’re about to have a lot more time on your hands. Let us know in the comments what you’ll be spending it on.
- You’ve probably got time to subscribe to our newsletter and keep on hacking your life for more energy, productivity and results!
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