Before we get into details about the two best exercises ever known to mankind to shed excess body fat (sprinting and jumping), I want to put in a little plug for the trending healthy living topic of gratitude.1 The concept is easy to pay lip service to, especially when you’re struggling and not in the best mood to feel it naturally. I’m recently recovered from a minor knee injury lasting six months that prevented me from doing my beloved sprinting and high jumping workouts. While athletics no longer dominates my life as it did when I was a pro triathlete, there was a lingering frustration deep down from being deprived of my favorite fitness endeavors, being unsure of the diagnosis of my injury, testing out the knee and experiencing setbacks, and being forced to be massively patient.
Today, I feel incredibly grateful to be back at the track sprinting and jumping. I’m also grateful for the outstanding physical therapy and chiropractic care that helped me finally obtain an accurate diagnosis and quickly heal from tight hip flexors, quads, and calves that referred pain to the area of what actually always was a perfectly healthy knee. When in doubt, seek out high quality, athletic-minded, hands-on healing practitioners!
Now that I’m back into the groove, I notice that I relish the entire workout experience like never before—hopping the fence to gain access to the track, completing my deliberate warmup routine and exacting technique drills (Basic and Advanced) that I have so much fun sharing on YouTube, and performing an ambitious main set of sprints or a focused high jumping workout.
Interestingly, my most significant source of gratitude comes from the discomfort associated with delivering brief bursts of maximum physical effort. I challenge anyone reading to reflect on your attitude before and during your most difficult workout efforts—those last few reps or last few meters to complete a great set. It’s common to whine and judge these efforts negatively. This mentality is infectious amidst training groups and teams. We whine to our personal trainers during a session, forcing them out of trainer or coach mode and into babysitter mode.
We look at the whiteboard description of a Crossfit WOD or swim workout and predict that the session will be “brutal,” or how a certain sequence will be “torture.” We obtain a perverse sense of camaraderie by commiserating with our training partners.
Enough of all that! Imagine what it’s like to be involuntary sidelined and watching others gettin’ it done on YouTube instead of being out there sweating yourself. Might you be less apt to complain? Also, acknowledge that your cardiovascular system and muscles are incapable of experiencing emotion. You don’t have to judge physical effort, just let your body perform the task at hand and cultivate gratitude for being able to experience all aspects of living a healthy, fit lifestyle—especially the last few meters or reps!
If you are interested in leveraging your fitness pursuits to shed excess body fat, let’s talk about how to do it correctly. As described in detail in the riveting new book, Two Meals A Day, the diet and fitness scene is experiencing a wonderful breakthrough after decades of being mired in the flawed calories in-calories out, struggle and suffer approach to weight loss. Emerging science is conclusively proving that indiscriminately burning exercise calories simply doesn’t contribute to fat reduction goals. Instead, per what is known as the compensation theory of exercise,2 a strenuous exercise program prompts you to consume more calories and economize your energy expenditure in assorted ways outside of your workouts. In order for exercise to make a significant contribution to fat reduction, you have to honor—drum roll please—the Primal Blueprint Fitness philosophy of moving frequently at a slow pace, lifting heavy things and sprinting once in a while.
This two-part article will focus on how to leverage explosive sprinting and jumping workouts to send powerful signals to your genes to shed body fat. Before we get into the details of these super effective high intensity workouts, let’s make sure your other bases are covered as follows:
Dial your diet. A carbohydrate dependency eating pattern is going to negate much of your exercise efforts. This is why you see droves of extremely fit and devoted endurance and group exercise athletes carrying five, ten or twenty pounds of extra body fat. It’s critical to ditch the “Big Three” toxic modern foods of refined sugars, grains, and industrial seed oils and emphasize healthy, nutrient-dense, ancestral-style foods. Quit eating too much food, too often and start honing metabolic flexibility through fasting, challenging workouts, and nutrient-dense meals.
Move frequently. Discover assorted ways to increase all forms of general everyday movement: Walking is the centerpiece of this effort, joined by formal movement practices (yoga, Pilates, tai chi), microworkouts, and a morning flexibility and mobility routine. Even self-myofascial release counts toward your movement quota!
Avoid chronic exercise. This blog is full of detailed commentary about the dangers of chronic cardio, and we can also add chronic CrossFit, chronic group exercise, and any type of a recurring pattern of exhausting, depleting workouts. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one of the most popular terms and trends in fitness, but the typical implementation of HIIT can be exhausting and depleting. Check out Dr. Craig Marker’s landmark article titled, HIIT vs. HIRT (High Intensity Repeat Training) for details.
Do high intensity exercise correctly. Go hard only when well rested and motivated to deliver a peak performance effort; recover with great care between sessions; keep your maximum efforts between ten and twenty seconds; take sufficient recovery between maximum efforts; and finish the session before or when you experience compromised form or a spike in fatigue.
When you honor these three principles with your fitness pursuits, you steer clear of the compensation theory mechanisms that make you hungry and lazy and start sending the right signals to your genes to become a fat burner. Walking your 10,000 steps a day, keeping your cardio sessions at the MAF heart rate (180 minus age in beats per minute), and taking frequent short breaks from prolonged periods of stillness won’t deplete your glycogen or spike appetite. Instead, it will hone your fat burning abilities around the clock. Chronic exercise is the ultimate driver of carb dependency. Even when you do a stellar job eating the right foods, an overly stressful workout program will push you right back in the direction of carb dependency or worse, promote hormone dysregulation and compromised thyroid and adrenal function.
Elle Russ details in The Paleo Thyroid Solution how she was checking all the right boxes with an active, athletic lifestyle: challenging hot yoga classes, swim workouts, hilly hikes, and low carb eating only to crash and burn her thyroid function due to the excess stress load of the workouts. Finally, you’ve read about the awesome benefits of high intensity workouts, but the vast majority of exercises do them wrong, prompting burnout instead of breakthroughs.
Keep an eye out next week for part two, where, I will take you through step-by-step through an effective sprint workout and an effective jumping workout!