There is a massive body of evidence that discusses the neuroendocrine response to a variety of strength training, aerobic training, and dietary protocols, and I’ve become very interested in them lately. There are some great strategies for maximizing the impact that your hormones have, and it explains why the lifting carb cycler typically
looks a lot better is more muscular and leaner than the ultramarathon running vegan.
I’m excited to talk about this research and how to apply it, but that’s for a later date. Today, I want to talk about it doesn’t really matter that much…if you’re not training in the first place.
Ya know what sucks worse than not using scientific research to impact your training? Not training at all.
Occasionally, you’ll be able to time your training around your circadian rhythm, with optical macronutrient timing, precise biofeedback, and volume based on Prilepin’s table. Most of the time though, it just comes down to figuring out if you’re going to train in the first place. In an ideal world, you’ll know exactly when you’re going to the gym, and what you’re doing each time, but that’s not very practical. Instead, let’s optimize your busy life.
Stop eating processed crap.
It would be a disservice to you not to say this. It’s impossible to out train a poor diet, and dietary choices are going to have the biggest impact on hormonal fluctuations, body chemistry, and how you feel. If most of your food is coming out of a wrapper, swapping them for some fresh fruits and vegetables will certainly help, as will healthy protein and fat sources. Fish oil and a multivitamin will certainly help.
When in doubt, lift.
If you haven’t trained the day before, and you’re not sure if you can train tomorrow, a full body workout is where it’s at. this could be as simple as performing a few sets of chin-ups, push-ups, and reverse lunges; it doesn’t need to be a 2 hour super-intense top secret Soviet Bloc workout of squats and squats and moar squatz. You just need to move as much of your body as possible, and get strong while doing so.
Lifting will have the biggest impact on your metabolism, and provide a stimulus that causes favorable hormonal changes…when done correctly. Think about exercises that you can do anywhere; squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges; body weight patterns that require you to use and coordinate a heck of a lot of muscle mass. Additionally, don’t worry about those cute dumbbells, or using lots of machines. They’re too lame for you, and you’re trying to be awesome.
If you don’t lift, sprint.
The only thing that burns fat faster than sprinting is lighting yourself on fire, and I strongly suggest against doing that. Srsly; don’t do that. Instead, find a hill to sprint up. Find turf, grass, or a beach to sprint across. Wherever you may be, go forth and sprint. It doesn’t need to be long, or exceptionally fast. Just move as fast as you can, recover as much as necessary, and repeat several times. You want numbers? 5-10 30 second sprints, with 30-120 seconds of recovery. How’s that to start?
The only caveat I’ll give for this; if you’re lifting and sprinting on sequential days, your body might get hate you. If you’re doing conditioning on days between lifting, I’ll advise that you do on it on Airdyne, on an elliptical, or in the pool. You’ll limit the ground reaction forces and pounding that your body can take.
But what if you can’t sprint?
Perhaps you’re in a neighborhood where maximum effort sprints are usually accompanied by flashing lights and sirens, or you’re traveling and limited to the hotel and hotel gym. That’s totally cool. If it’s a taller hotel, make good use of those emergency stairwells and do your conditioning there. If there’s absolutely no fitness center, you can check out product like BJ Gaddour’s Heart Rate Hotel, which is far more creative than I am. Last week I used 100 walking lunges as a finisher. That’s not very exciting. My point is, even if you’re stuck in 10 square feet of space, it’s relatively easy to ensure you get a great workout.
What are your options if you lifted and sprinted?
This is where things get tricky. What if you lifted and sprinted in one day? Would you do something differently than if you lifted and sprinted on two different days? What about your ‘aerobic’ cardio, and any recovery work? What day is it?
Activities like jogging and yoga are fetch, but they’re very low on the bang-for-your-buck list for aesthetic and performance benefits. However, on the mental health and well-being list, they’re good options, and I like to suggest related activities to help facilitate recovery. what does this mean?
If you’re training hard enough to require Kalteen bars, you’re also training hard enough to require some dedicated recovery work. This could be as simple as going for a 20 minutes walk, or spending 20 minutes foam rolling, addressing joint mobility, and practicing several of your favorite yoga poses. You’ll certainly feel better than if you didn’t do it, and it will facilitate a more productive training session the next time you have the chance to get after it.
Regardless of how well you schedule training, cleaning up your diet is going to be the single best thing you can do. Once you’re consuming more fresh whole foods, your default to-do should be lifting. If your schedule is really hectic, and you’re only exercising 2-3 times per week, make them strength training workouts with a metabolic component. If you have more time, try to follow your strength training workouts with interval based work, such as a jog around the nearest park, running up and down the hotel stairs, or dropping in at the nearest Zumba or Spin class. Yes, I just said that, because you obviously deadlifted the previous day, right?
If you’re exercising 3-5 times per week, you’ll require some recovery work. Go for a walk, perform some body weight movements, stretch everything out, and spend some time focusing on breathing and calming yourself down. Finally, if it’s Wednesday, wear pink.