A Case For Low-Intensity Cardio

A Case For Low-Intensity Cardio

Yes, you can overdo it with intervals. Here’s how to introduce those necessary easy efforts.

Monday, May 19, 2014 | Lee Walker Helland

You’re already well aware that incorporating intervals into your training gives you the most bang for your workout-buck. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT—alternating between powerful, limit-pushing bursts and slowed-down recovery periods—has been shown to rev your calorie burn, boost fat reduction, increase strength and muscle mass and more. And, for those training for a race, intervals may help you improve your time even as you cut the time dedicated to training in half, according to a Danish study that tracked 5K times as affected by HIIT over a seven-week period.

But as praise for HIIT has reached cultish levels, the real, significant benefits of its counterpart, low-intensity steady-state cardio (or LISS, working at a lower intensity, but maintaining it for extended periods), have increasingly been swept under the rug. With the emphasis on intensity, most exercisers are overlooking the necessity (and benefits) of going easy and instead spending all of their time in this HIIT zone. Is it time to stop dissing LISS?

“People who say steady-state cardio is totally ineffective are usually just selling you a book,” says Adam Duthie, a Tier 4 coach at Columbus Circle in New York City. “You may not be gaining muscle or strength, but it still serves an important purpose.”

The Benefits of LISS: Why You Should Take It Easy

(1) You’ll get more blood flowing: Working on your endurance encourages your heart’s left ventricle, the cavity that pushes blood out to the rest of the body, to increase in capacity. That means that more oxygen gets delivered to nourish crucial tissues and organs, supporting better overall health, Duthie says.

(2) LISS helps you metabolize oxygen efficiently: Not only does more oxygen reach crucial parts of the body, but your circulatory system gets better at transferring it from blood to tissue. That’s because LISS increases capillary density, so more channels are on hand to deliver oxygen to tissues’ cells.

(3) Easy efforts repair tired muscles: High-intensity workouts cause metabolic byproducts—a variety of molecules that result from forceful exercise—to build up in the muscles, wearing out muscles and promoting fatigue. “LISS promotes recovery by increasing blood flow to damaged tissues, shuttling away these byproducts,” Duthie says. Research shows that low-intensity work helps you flush the stuff out faster than you would if you just went a day or two without exercise.

(4) Steady state preps you for another workout: Interval training requires adenofine triphosphate, or ATP, the molecules you need to contract your muscles. Every time you do HIIT, ATP stores are depleted. Enter LISS: “The aerobic system works to replenish the chemical building blocks and enzymes necessary to generate a high-power output” by the muscles, Duthie says. That means you can go even harder next time you hit the intervals.

So where should LISS fit into your routine? Twenty minutes of easy cycling, jogging or brisk walking should follow every high-intensity session to get the repair mechanisms going.

Beyond that, plan what Duthie calls “macro cycles”: Take six to eight weeks to focus on HIIT with a lesser proportion of LISS mixed in, then bridge to an endurance-focused cycle of the same length. There’s no one-size-fits-all breakdown, Duthie says. “Now with that being said, for an average gymgoer who’s seeking general fitness and perhaps a body composition goal, 2 to 3 sessions of interval training coupled with 1 to 2 days of steady state “recovery style” cardio per week would probably be effective. I would spread this out over the course of 4 to 6 weeks. An example could be Monday/Wednesday/Friday interval training with weights and cardio, paired with some steady state work on Thursday/Saturday. After those 4 to 6 weeks you could flip the paradigm and focus more on steady state with a secondary focus on HIIT training. It’s all about balance.”

Photography by Klaus Thymann / Trunk Archive

via A Case For Low-Intensity Cardio – Q by Equinox.

Juicing ??? Try These Combinations

Juicing This Spring/Summer? – Try 6 Innovative Combinations Inspired by Produce Around the Globe

If you’re a juice bar regular, you may have noticed that combos have started to sound startlingly alike. And really, how many times can you gulp down a concoction of kale, apple, spinach, lemon and ginger without getting bored? But don’t give up your daily cold-pressed just yet. This spring, we suggest upping your juice game and shaking up your palate with ingredients native to some of the world’s wellness hotspots.
1

Australia: passion fruit + orange juice + lime + carrot juice

Here, the sweet tanginess of citrus is mellowed by carrot’s earthy flavor.  Passion fruit is loaded with antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin C.”

2

Hawaii: coconut milk + coconut water + cucumber + mint + dates + ginger

This combination is clean, crisp and refreshing—perfect for a warm day, since coconut and cucumber are extremely hydrating. Coconut is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and ginger is good for digestion.

3

India: mango + almond milk + cinnamon + turmeric + vanilla bean + chia seeds

This rich and flavorful drink is a cousin of the famed mango lassi, minus the yogurt base. Cinnamon and turmeric balance out the fruit’s sweetness. Mangos provide antioxidants and fiber along with vitamin C, folate and vitamin A.  Plus, you get satiating healthy fats from the almond milk.  After juicing or blending the first five ingredients together, finish by adding whole chia seeds to the glass.

4

Morocco: apple + beet + rose water + lemon + mint

Meet your new hangover juice!  Rose water is often used in Moroccan cuisine, and has great calming and anti-inflammatory properties. It also imparts a subtle floral note. Apples are packed with the antioxidant quercetin and beets are potent liver detoxifiers.

5

Vietnam: watermelon + lemongrass + lemon + mint + cucumber

All the flavors come together for a fresh, clean and citrusy sip, with watermelon and cucumber providing maximum hydration.  Lemongrass is an essential ingredient in Vietnamese cooking.  If you’re making a smoothie, make sure you finely mince it before adding it to the blender.

6

California: avocado + cacao nibs + banana + hemp milk

Avocado might seem like an odd addition, but it blends well with any other flavor and creates a silky-smooth and rich mouth-feel.  Hemp contains plant-based protein and you also get potassium and fiber from the banana.

Thanks to Equinox, Maridel Reyes and Marissa Lippert, RD

Advanced CORE Movements to Build Those ABS!

Our cultural fixation on abs is fairly easily explained: They are the calling card of a dedicated and disciplined workout regimen, the raison d’etre of the two-piece bathing suit, the carrot on the end of a stick of, well, carrots. And since they are in hiding for so much of the calendar year, our obsession peaks in their peak season, the summer. In the pecking order of muscle groups, the abs rank highly, and they always will.

For some people, having a sculpted midsection is a lifelong goal…but this goal does not have to take/be “life-long”.  Sculpting one’s abdominal area abides by the same rules as any other body part – eat well (DIET is ALWAYS of extreme importance), exercise consistently and correctly, and make sure you rest to allow your body the necessary time to recuperate.

As stylish as a flat midsection may be, however, it is also the cornerstone of a fit, strong body. “The core is the link between your upper and lower body, and that includes the back, side, pelvic and butt muscles,” says group fitness instructor Aida Palau.  “It’s the origin of all of your functional movements, and a weak or inflexible core will limit not only the function of your limbs, but the efficiency and power of all of these movements.”

If you take a look at the exercises below, please note that some of them are relatively advanced movements and must be done with care.  Attempt the movements slowly and at your own pace.  If necessary, work your way up to performing the full movement by training parts of the movement separately.  Teaching your body how to perform the movement is extremely important because it will minimize injury.  Give these exercises are try and you may be on your way to the abs you have always tried to achieve!

 

1.  Pike

Sitting at a 90-degree angle, legs extended to the front with spine in upright position, bring your hands flat on the mat right next to the hips. Squeeze legs together, press off your hands (pushing the floor away from you) and lift your entire lower body off the floor (as shown). Hold the position for at least 1 full breath cycle. 

 

2.  Pigeon With Arm Elevation

From a plank position with legs together, exhale and lift tailbone up into a V pose. As you inhale, extend right leg straight up towards the ceiling. In the exhale, with arms straight, bend the right knee, bringing it toward the chest while moving shoulders over the wrists, and lower yourself into pigeon pose, resting right shin on the mat and left leg flat. Inhale, circling right arm to the front and up and behind you while rotating your spine toward the right. Exhale, while bending the left knee to catch the left foot with your right hand. Push the foot into your hand, allowing your right elbow to extend completely (as shown); extend left arm to the front simultaneously. Hold the position for 3 to 5 breaths.

 

3.  Swimming

Lie prone, arms extended in front of you and legs extended hip width apart behind you. Lift belly button up, pressing pelvis into the mat, and lower shoulder blades toward low back. Inhale, simultaneously lifting right arm, left leg and head off the mat (as shown), creating length from finger to toe. Keep head up and stable, and alternate lifting opposite limbs, vigorously inhaling for 5 counts and exhaling for 5 more, for 5 full breathing cycles.

 

 

4.  Teaser With Leg Circles

Lie faceup with knees bent and shoulder-width apart, heels together. Reach arms in front of you, past the hips. Pull belly button in and up, anchoring low back on the mat, and continue reaching straight arms up and behind you. As you exhale, extend legs out to front, keeping low back in contact with the mat. Inhale, extending arms directly overhead, keeping chin to chest and exhale as you rise up until balancing on your tailbone. Clasp hands together above the head (as shown); inhale as you open legs shoulder-width and lower them, exhale as you lift and bring them back together, performing from 1 to 3 circles in each direction. (The reverse would be to exhale as you lower, inhale as you lift). Roll back down to the mat with control, one vertebrae at a time.

 

 

5.  Narrow Push-Up With Hip Adduction And Leg Extension

From a plank position, with hands directly beneath shoulders, inhale and lift and extend your right leg behind you, coming up onto your left toes. In one fluid motion, exhale, and drag the right knee in towards your left elbow, bending your right arm, keeping elbows close to your body, as you extend right knee (as shown) and straighten your leg so that it is at hip height (or higher if strength and flexibility allow). Inhale and reverse the motion to start. Repeat on opposite side. Do 5 to 8 reps.

 

 

6.  Clock

Lie faceup with knees bent, heels together. (You are at 6 o’clock.) With arms at sides, press shoulders into the mat. Inhale and reach shoulders back to the mat and down toward your waist, reaching your arms past hip level. On the exhale, allow the head to lift off the floor and, without moving your shoulders, place hands on your ankles, pulling them gently toward you. Keeping a stable head, neck and shoulders, inhale, extending arms behind you and legs forward (as shown). Exhale, circling arms down to your sides while drawing in your knees and ankles. Inhale as you lengthen the body; exhale as you get tiny like a ball. Make your way around the ‘clock’—your tailbone and lower back will rise up towards the ribs on the exhale, while flexing the torso toward the right to travel your body around the clock.

 

 

Thanks to Equinox and Equinox instructor, Aida Palau, for the above information

 

Low Carb VS High Carb Dieting

High Carb vs Low Carb Diets… Interesting Case Study

I know many of you continue to feel as though the way to lose weight and/or maintain lean muscle mass is to minimize your carbohydrate intake.  Take a look at this article, written by Dr. S. Nadolsky, who is not only a physician but an avid body builder as well.  Dr. Nadolsky states, “…If you’re a healthy exerciser whose blood sugar levels are normal and you’ve been eating low carb for a while, I recommend trying a higher carb diet. You might be surprised at the results…”.  He definitely sheds some light on how and why a diet higher in carbohydrates may benefit us.

Carbohydrate confessions:  Stories (and data) from a low carb convert – By Dr. S. Nadolsky

 

Conclusions:

  1. Mindful eating makes the difference
  2. Weighing, measuring and tracking are important (I recommend this to anyone trying to make any type of physical change by changing their diet)
  3. Note that most lay people who are relatively inactive and somewhat overweight, should still stick with lower carbohydrate diets because it is much easier to get blood sugar and blood pressure controlled on a low carb diet
  4. while low carb diets have their place, I no longer think they’re necessarily the right choice, or the only choice, for everyone

Take home points:

  • Do not overly restrict; do not over-think it; do not waste time with detailed “carb math.”
  • Enjoy a wide variety of minimally processed, whole and fresh foods.
  • Observe how you look, feel, and perform.
  • Decide what to do based on the data you collect about yourself, not on what you think you “should” do.
  • The only “rules” come from your body and your experience. Do not follow a dietary prescription for anyone else’s body.

And above all, for most active people, carbs are your friend!

THE Stretch for Those That Sit

THE Stretch for Those That Sit

Target all of your sitting muscles at once with this smart move.

Perform this stretch as a dynamic warm-up before your regular cardio and/or strength sessions. Or you can perform it as a cool-down, but rather than walking through the movement, make it static and hold the final position (with ankle over knee) for a minimum of 30 seconds. 

Follow these step-by-step instructions:

       
(1) Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.  

   
(2) Keep your back tall, shoulders down and chest open as you push butt behind you and bend knees slightly, going into a mini squat. Lift left foot a few inches off floor (as shown).  

(3) Hinge forward from hips to grab left knee with left hand and ankle with right hand. Slowly stand back up, bringing knee up with you, pulling it toward midline of chest, until your spine is fully extended (as shown).                                

   
(4) Then do another mini squat, pushing hips behind you, and place left ankle over right knee, with left knee out to side (as shown). 

(5) Extend arms at shoulder level in front of you and go deeper into your squat, pushing hips back, hinging forward from hips and reaching arms diagonally toward floor (as shown). Stand up, lunge forward with left leg, and then repeat stretch on the right. Continue alternating sides for 12 to 16 reps total (6 to 8 each leg).

 

  • To get more of a lat stretch: Reach arms away from the hip you’re stretching (i.e., if right ankle is over left knee, reach arms to left and push hips to right).
  • To make it easier: Use a wall for balance and/or do not go quite as deep into each squat.
  • To make it more difficult: Slowly work your way into a deeper squat. Or when you bring knee into chest, go up onto your tiptoes, which will target your calves and better activate your core and other stabilizing muscles.
Thanks to Linsdey Emery at equinox.com and Master Trainer Josh Stoltz