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Guest Post: Do Less Cardio

by Brianna Prigge, CPT

I am thrilled to be guest posting on Lauren’s blog this week. I met Lauren through mutual friends and we now work together. Working in the same small office as Lauren, I have had the unique opportunity to watch her go through the ADF lifestyle change. I had never heard of ADF before Lauren decided to commit to it about 5 months ago. I naturally had countless questions for her and was floored by the scientific evidence boasting the benefits of the ADF lifestyle. As you know from her blog, she has been incredibly successful.

Lauren and I never run short on conversation topics because we are both interested in the Paleo Diet and some of the lifestyle aspects of the primal life, as well. I chose to adopt the Paleo diet about 6 months ago. I follow the diet with 80% of what I eat. The occasional soy sauce, peanut butter, corn chips, and dessert do tend to find themselves in my diet from time to time. I battle with some autoimmune conditions, and I feel markedly better following the Paleo diet.  

But, I would like to spend some time discussing a different aspect of the Paleo lifestyle: exercise

How does the primal lifestyle suggest we approach exercise? According to the author of The Primal Blueprint and popular blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark Sisson, “The fact is, our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't ramp up their heart rates significantly for over an hour every day, and I don't think we should either. They walked at a very low level of exertion, burning almost entirely stored fats.” Is Sisson trying to tell us that there is such a thing as too much cardio? Yes, in fact, once your body leaves the fat-burning zones, we become dependent on glycogen stores to fuel our muscles. Your muscles and liver have a threshold for stored glycogen, up to 2 hours for well-trained individuals, and much less for the rest of us.

Pushing past fat burning zones and relying on glycogen stores can quickly take a toll on your body. To name a few that Mark Sisson mentions: “this kind of training (and diet) raises cortisol levels, increases oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depresses the immune system and decreases fat metabolism. About the only thing good it does is improve cardiac muscle strength – and even then you get to the point of diminishing returns fairly quickly.

Read more here.

This information has been difficult for me to digest. I have accepted the meat and produce concepts of the Paleo diet, it truly resonates with me to eat like our ancestors did and fuel my body similarly. But we have been conditioned to believe that marathon runners are the picture of health; that we should be jogging for hours every week to be feel our best. For example, I just ran the Seattle Rock n’ Roll marathon in June and felt that I had hit a milestone in my journey towards health. To be honest, I could not have been more misguided. The marathon training demanded me to put more and more carbohydrates into my body as fuel. I was consuming Swedish fish during long training runs to keep my glycogen stores up, and was constantly exhausted. But I truly believed I was reaching extreme levels of fatigue in the name of health. I was very wrong.

Since the marathon, I have changed my approach to exercise. Not an easy task, since I have it ingrained in my brain that running and pushing my body to extreme cardio limits is equated with optimal health. But now, a week of my workouts looks like this:

Monday: 3 mile walk during my lunch hour and a Yoga Sculpt class in the evening
(Yoga Sculpt is a total body workout, CorePower Yoga Sculpt classes are set to energizing music and designed to tone and sculpt every major muscle group. This class complements your regular yoga practice, while boosting your metabolism and pushing your strength and flexibility to new heights. Free weights are added to the CorePower Yoga 2 (C2) sequence, creating resistance and intensifying each pose. Strength-training exercises such as squats, lunges, bicep curls and tricep curls are incorporated to build lean muscle mass.)

Tuesday: Yoga Sculpt class

Wednesday: 3 mile run and functional bodyweight exercises

Thursday: Functional Sprint and Strength Workout (see below)

Friday: Yoga Sculpt class

Saturday: Hike or take another adventure with my husband (kayak on the lake during the summer, ski during the winter, etc.)

Sunday: REST

According to the primal lifestyle, we should move slow and frequently. I do not own a car, so I end up walking a fairly great amount in everyday life, and also enjoy taking walks to explore new neighborhoods in Seattle. It is also important to do functional strength moves to make sure we are strong throughout our entire lives. Squats, lunges, and push-ups with our own body weight are great ways to keep your strength up. Lastly, we should sprint once in awhile  This is good for both our metabolism and body composition.

Here is a great example of a quick, functional sprint and strength workout to do no more than once a week:

*Warm-up for 5 minutes (power-walking or light jogging)*

Interval 1: Sprint 20 seconds, walk/light jog 3 minutes
-60 seconds of air squats (Here is a video tutorial)

Interval 2: Sprint 20 seconds, walk/light jog 3 minutes
-60 seconds of push-ups

Interval 3: Sprint 20 seconds, walk/light jog 3 minutes
-60 seconds of walking lunges

Interval 4: Sprint 20 seconds, walk/light jog 3 minutes
-60 seconds of planks

I feel markedly better on this type of a workout regimen. I no longer need to load up on carbohydrates to sustain my energy levels. In fact, two to three Paleo-style meals a day yields more than enough energy and the correct nutrients to feel my best. And to end on a vanity note: my clothes fit better than when I was marathon training, go figure.

Brianna Prigge is not only my friend and coworker  but a certified personal trainer (CPT) with a passion for fitness and health.

This post first appeared on Lauren Tries Out Alternate Day Fasting, please read the originial post: here

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Guest Post: Do Less Cardio


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