Monday, 21 November 2016

Post 33: Cowlean's Kickstart Advice - Exercise

Hi Guys,

We’ve got a bit of a series forming here...

First we talked about the excuses that people erect to stop themselves from starting (find it here). That could be considered the prologue. Next we looked at the three simple changes to make to your diet which will actually be the three greatest contributors to your results (find that one here). That was part 1 of an impromptu series which I’ve decided to put together, to help people get on track with their diets and ultimately a body of work which is simple and easy to implement.

What I want, is a series of easily digested (pun intended) posts, which I could hand to someone just starting out. As much as I want to give this to the community, and lay out my basic ideas for how someone could begin, I also need a medium to collect my own observations and advice. When asked the simple question: “where do I start?”, my mind can go into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities.

I intend for someone to follow this series on a week-by-week basis. So at the end of this series you should have a four to six week (I’ve not decided how many steps to include yet) induction process. Better still, you’ll have built an impressive set of habits which will carry you forward.

This is a schedule I have used to great effect. I think it works really well because it gives you something to look forward to, something to build upon, every week. It offers constant progression, and little in the way of plateaus, because you are consistently upping your game. Lastly, it allows you to see the marginal benefit of your actions, with each week’s results largely coming from your new change.

So after succeeding in week one, where you made simple and impactful changes to your diet, this week you will introduce a little exercise. And when I say a little, I mean a little!...

Low’n’slow or fast’n’dirty

As much as I love puns, I love inappropriate phrases nearly as much, hence the monikers I’ve given to the types of exercise I recommend.

If you go back to my post on ketogenic workouts (find that here), you can learn the in-depth science behind aerobic and anaerobic exercise, what it does, and why. But in essence, you need to know the following.

Low heart rate (HR) is aerobic exercise and will burn more fat for fuel. I recommend walking because you can’t trick yourself into going faster without it being obvious! On a bike or rowing machine, you can always go a little faster or with greater intensity, but there’s a clear difference between walking and jogging/running. Since it is getting cold outside now, use a home exercise machine if you have it, but be very strict with yourself to take it easy.

High heart rate exercise is called anaerobic exercise, and utilises more of your stored glucose. Used correctly it can be a positive stressor/adaptogen, which leads to muscle growth. The type of exercise I am talking about includes high intensity interval training (HIIT) and lifting weights. This will provide you with the “toned” look more than endless hours on the treadmill ever will.

This leads me onto why cardio, or more specifically chronic cardio, sucks. It’s the worst of both worlds. This is what most gym goers engage in consistently. They raise their HR up and out of the aerobic (fat burning) zone and cause elevated stress on their body for extended periods. This type of cardio is not good for burning fat, or for building muscle. It is inefficient, a waste of time, and very costly (think about your gym membership…).

Exercise Plan

In week two we introduce your exercise. Now remember what I said earlier about how little you need to do? Good. Now think about what you’ve read before or seen in newspapers about the punishing routines celebrities maintain to stay thin. The truth is, they’re wasting their time and still have spare tires which require photoshopping.

What I want you to do is the following: go for a 15 minute walk, three times a week, before you eat anything. That is it.

As we sleep we enter ketosis, the fat burning zone, and therefore by moving when in slight ketosis (there are levels to it) you will mobilise more fat to provide energy. It will also benefit your circadian rhythms, because your body expects you to be the most active in the morning. If you’re going outside (preferred), you’ll also get some sunlight (hopefully…). This will doubly aid your circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep the night after.

If you want to, you can do this *optional* workout as well, and I really mean optional with asterisks! This workout should be very, very quick, lasting no more than 45 minutes.

Deadlifts (five sets of five)
Bench press (five sets of five)
HIIT: two minute warmup, followed by 30 seconds of full effort, then 90 seconds of normal intensity. Repeat this 30/90 cycle five times.

Perform the weight lifting first, so that you can express maximal strength, and rest 90 seconds between sets if it was easy, three minutes if it was hard, and five minutes if you failed to hit five reps (rest pattern credited to 5*5 Stronglifts). Each week increase the weight by the smallest increment you can find.

After the weights perform the HIIT part of the workout. You can do whatever type of exercise you like, but my favourite is to use bikes.


So let’s take stock and look at what I’ve asked for this week: not much at all. If you don’t do the *optional* (!!!) workout you just need to go outside and walk for fifteen minutes, three times a week. This is how easy it can be.

Endless exercise and treadmill hours is such a common misconception it is almost laughable. When it comes to exercise, working smart is more important than working hard.

On top of that, you could quite easily quit your gym today and never go back, or simply pay as you go rather than have that expensive membership.

Here’s this week’s takeaways:
  1. Stop doing chronic cardio; it’s the worst of both worlds
  2. Exercise should be either low’n’slow, or fast’n’dirty; choose whether you want to burn fat or build muscle
  3. Walk for 15 minutes, three times a week, before you eat anything

And that’s it. All you have to do now is leave a like and post a comment down below. I’ll see you next week for part 3.

Until next time,

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