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Lack of movement leads to body rotting. Movement leads to more capacity to move more. We need more walking, more muscle, more standing on one leg, more stretching out the damage of the day. We want more strength, speed, balance, endurance, a pain-free existence with maximum range of motion.
Don’t worry about which program to choose, which class (cult) to join, which is better — cardio or strength training. Just get your work in. Try any program. Try any class. Train cardio and strength training. Keep what works for you. Discard what doesn’t. Get the work in.
- MOVE MORE Walk for ten minutes twice a day to stop the damage of sitting still, wake up, get sun, burn a little energy. Bonus if you walk in nature. Example triggers – work breaks, after waking, returning from work, after a drive, on a break on a long drive, before a meal, after a meal. Walking is the baseline. Never stop walking twenty minutes per day except when sick or injured. As soon as you can walk again, walk again. You can substitute running, rowing, biking, swimming, or higher intensity cardio to increase your aerobic fitness. Low-intensity cardio doesn’t require as much recovery time or have as much risk for injury.
- ADD MUSCLE Lift for twenty minutes three days per week using compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups. Hire a trainer, ask a friend, or go to a class or good CrossFit to learn excellent form. Start with bodyweight, bands, or machines to learn form. Then add weight using dumbbells and barbells. The goal is to add muscle to help with reducing and maintaining weight and fat and increasing lifespan. To add muscle, add weight. Ladies, don’t worry about getting bulky (unless you’re taking steroids). You won’t get big. This is the number one habit I’d invest money to learn how to do well.
- CHALLENGE BALANCE. Pick one balance routine to practice daily for five minutes. Focus on this for one month then make some drills part of your normal routine. Balance is overlooked. Think of your geriatric parents or grandparents. Would they like better balance in their last five years? Options – walk the edge side of the sidewalk, tai chi, karate kata, one leg squats or deadlifts, exercises on bosu, foam, unstable surfaces, step up/step down, move with eyes-closed (walking, squats, lunges, heel to toe walking with head turns).
- MOBILIZE DAILY. Pick one or two mobilizations to practice daily for one to two minutes each. Buy Becoming a Supple Leopard. Focus on this for at least one month, then try to incorporate this into downtime when you’re watching tv at night, after your workout, or drying off after your shower. Bad posture, tight hamstrings, back problems develop over years. Invest daily to undo the damage of the day. If you’re a desk worker, look these up: cat/cows, pigeon, lizard, thoracic foam rolling, upper trap, scalenes, or levator scap stretches, chin tuck, wall angels, door pec stretch, couch stretch, wrist flexion/wrist extension, a lacrosse ball on anything tight.
- SPRINT WEEKLY. Run, row, bike, high-knee, climb, jump, hill run, cardio machine as fast as possible (i.e. sprint) five to ten times once a week to increase your anaerobic capacity. Or try Tabata with cardio, squats, push-ups, etc. If you’re still building your baseline fitness, tone it down at first. Move faster than normal, not so fast you injure yourself. Amp it up over time as your fitness improves.
When You Have An Hour
TRAIN IN ZONE 2.
What is Zone 2? Check out this Polar article on heart rate zones, search the web for a general description, or read the more detailed links below. Generally, Zone 2 means a heart rate zone that’s considered “light” or low intensity at 60-70% of your heart rate max.
For our purposes it means run, bike, or row for an hour at a low-intensity steady-state, your “all-day pace” you could maintain for hours. Low-intensity doesn’t mean it’s easy. In a perfect world, our lactate level would tell us whether we’re in Zone 2 but lactate testing is expensive. A proxy for a lactate measurement is your RPE, relative perceived exertion, or 60-70% of your heart rate max. You should be able to have a conversation with someone on the phone barely. Test this by calling someone or answering a call. Couple this with monitoring your heart rate and wattage (power output) if available. You should be able to estimate a ten bpm range (ex. 140-150bpm) and twenty-watt range (ex. 160 – 180 watts) within a few workouts. Expect bpm and watts to shift up and down a bit based on rest, stress, illness, etc. Soon your watts will go up without your heart rate or lactate level going up, meaning you’re becoming more efficient at generating power.
Why train in Zone 2? Improve mitochondrial efficiency (mitochondria, those energy powerhouses from high-school biology). Focus on fat-burning. Improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic health. And many more.
What ways can we train in Zone 2? The easiest ways to train in Zone 2 are stationary bikes, rowing machines, treadmills, or similar equipment where you can maintain a constant steady state. You can jog or ride a bike in the real world but it’s much more difficult to maintain a steady state. Not impossible. Just hard.
What’s an effective Zone 2 training protocol? When you can spare more free hours, work up to four Zone 2 sessions per week of forty-five minutes or more. If you have metabolic issues, are overweight, at-risk for diabetes, three hours of Zone 2 per week is one of the best investments you can make. Zone 2 is your “gateway drug” to better health.
How can we prioritize time for Zone 2 training? Pair biking with reading, listening to books or podcasts, responding to emails, taking phone calls and many other tasks that don’t require full focus and concentration if you’re struggling to find the time. Zone 2 lends itself to multitasking.
How can we learn more about Zone 2? Read the following links or listen to the podcasts to learn more. You will need to sign up for a membership for some content. Attia-Inigo podcast #1, Attia AMA19, Attia AMA26, Attia Zone 2 Q&A, Attia-Inigo podcast #2
Ways to Make Time
- Walk on breaks.
- Train or take walks with your family.
- Walk from farther away (car, road trips, rest stops, weekend activity).
- For families, get exercise equipment at home and workout in the same room as your kids once they won’t hurt themselves. Outfitting the room with fun equipments for kids like a low pull-up bar, maybe a rock-climbing wall, or a slide might help. Take your equipment outside if you have a safe space for kids when the weather permits. Search for a gym with a babysitter. Trade off watching the kids with your partner and working out.
- If you work long hours, consider a new job. Decide if your health is worth it. You may forgo health for the payoff or to tread water for you or your family. But brainstorm other options at least once a year to buy back time to live longer and better. Better for you. Better for everyone around you long-term.
- range of motion
- muscle mass (body fat%, naked test – “more muscle naked?”)
- range of motion
- injuries treated and healed
- ability to do the things you want to do physically
- total time moving (including walks)
- total time standing
- total time stretching or mobilizing
- number of weight training sessions per week
- weight lifted with good form for each exercise
- strength (ex. weight lifted)
- speed (ex. 40-yd dash time)
- endurance (ex. mile time)
- balance (ex. time standing on one leg on an unstable surface)
- number of sprints
Do you want to look good naked? C’mon. Be honest. Okay, okay. I believe you.
Do you want to die from a hip fracture? Break your hip when you’re over sixty years old and if you’re in the lucky half of that population, you’ll only be bed-bound. The rest are dead. Within six months. Why? Lack of strength. Research shows people who are not strong have three times as many all cause mortality events (i.e. deaths) as those who are strong. Smokers only have twice as many events as non-smokers. You might be better off being a strong smoker than a weak non-smoker. Not close to sixty? Pack on the muscle now when it’s easier. It’s never easy for anyone, not even The Terminator.
Push the snowball forward. With your legs. With your glutes. Get ready to grab that handrail when you’re old and fall down. Instead of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”, “I’m strong and I’m still standing after all these years.”
“Oh yeah, and I look good naked.” Why not?