April 15, 2021

To Live a Lot, Sprint Some, Too.

Sprinting man silhouette. Sprint, fast run

After getting injured in college, I spent years running in hopes of getting in “good enough” shape to do intervals. WRONG! Everyday after I recovered from the injury, I would say to myself, “As soon as I get fit, I’ll start doing interval workouts again.” I was mistakenly under the belief that I could only do intervals when I was fit enough. Boy, was I wrong.

My background in running was part of the problem. I trained in the off-season by running 15 miles everyday. Then, when the season came around, I’d start doing intervals to “tune-up” for racing. Therefore, I thought that I had to first get back to my 15 miles/day for 2-3 months, then start doing intervals.

What that mindset costs you

Two things are most important to remember now:

  • We’re no longer 20 years old;
  • Age is a great equalizer, i.e., the hormones that kept us young are seriously in decline.

And, believe it or else, you can do interval training at any fitness level. The stress of the intervals makes your body produce youthful hormones like Human Growth Hormone (HGH.) HGH keeps your muscles toned, makes you more flexible, etc. In other words, running 8-miles/day, swimming a mile/day, or biking 30 miles/day may sound good. And, don’t get me wrong, it is good. But, you’ll plateau and the hormonal edge will quickly disappear and the great decline will continue. Now, if you were to take say two of those days and do some interval training, it will be better. And, if you throw in some weight lifting you’ll do even better.

Not doing interval training prevents your body from generating HGH and, for guys, testosterone. Consequently, you become less flexible and unless you’re doing weightlifting or body weight exercises (pull ups, push ups, etc.,) you lose muscle mass. That’s what not doing intervals costs you.

A Simple Interval Strategy

You may or may not have a favorite interval workout. If you do, that’s a good one to do on a regular basis as long as you’re pushing near 80%-90% perceived effort level. But you don’t need to do it to exhaustion. That’s counter productive. No more than 20 minutes, total. That’s it. Finis.

If you don’t have a favorite interval workout, you might like the one below.

I talk about perceived effort a lot. And if you’re not in great shape, use your perceived effort to guide your workout level of effort.

Here’s a workout format outlined in Anabolic Running that can be adapted to any cardiovascular activity because it’s based on time and only takes about 20-minutes to complete.

  1. Warm up. Spend a few minutes stretching, jumping jacks, etc.
  2. Do a 30-second “sprint” at 80-90% effort. (Do the first interval comfortably fast to avoid injuring yourself.)
  3. Rest for two minutes (walk if you’re running, coast if biking, maybe tread water if you’re swimming, etc.)
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for anywhere from 3-7 times.
  5. Cool down. This is really important because along with raising your HGH and (for men) Testosterone levels, you’ve generated a lot of the stress hormone Cortisol which causes you to store fat. Easing back and cooling down slowly decreases this hormone in your bloodstream. The other reason to minimize Cortisol is that it interferes with the Testosterone you’ve generated.

Another workout strategy also based on time is to do a set number of repetitions, but with no real recovery. They are often referred to as “Suicides.” This one takes about 4-5 minutes depending on the number of repetitions. I don’t do these very often because they are so intense.

  1. Warm up. Spend a few minutes stretching, jumping jacks, etc.
  2. Do a 20-second “sprint” at 80-90% effort. (do the first interval comfortably fast to avoid injuring yourself.)
  3. Rest for 10-seconds (walk if you’re running, coast if biking, maybe tread water if you’re swimming, etc.)
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for anywhere from 3-7 times.
  5. Cool down.

Conclusion

Everything I write about is focused on increasing your longevity and strengthening your immune system. Being fit is a key component to longevity. Interval training helps raise your HGH and (for men) Testosterone. This type of training done in conjunction with a good cool down to reduce the Cortisol (fat) hormone you’ve stimulated by sprinting (stress.) (I’ll cover the dance between testosterone and cortisol in later blog.)

The best thing is that these workouts can be tailored to your fitness level and they shouldn’t take more that 20-25 minutes to complete. Remember, to live a lot (longer) you’ve got to sprint a little.