How would you like to be more efficient with your cardio exercise while exercising for shorter time and burning more calories? Read on… you will love this! You may not need to exercise as long as you think! A while back I came across the work of Dr. Al Sears who has been in the field of exercise for over 25 years. His PACE™ training method is based on the theory that continuous, endurance exercise actually induces your heart and lungs to “downsize” as the body adapts to the demand. The PACE™ system is designed to challenge peak lung volume. When you exercise “above” your aerobic zone (what he calls your supra-aerobic zone – high output and short duration) you create an oxygen debt sending signals to your lungs to expand. In turn, this forces your lungs to adapt by increasing their volume and power as well as building your heart reserve capacity. Your reserve capacity means your heart has the ability to pump more blood, faster in times of stress. For your lungs, it means they are able to deal with high exertion activities like lifting or running for the bus. Without a good reserve capacity, you are more likely to have a detrimental reaction to a high stress situation. Exercising in this supra-aerobic zone, according to Dr. Sears, can also help you burn fat more efficiently and decrease its storage.
Typically, what most of us have learned through the years is that you need to be in a certain intensity or “zone” to burn fat. Below is a chart showing the percentages of protein, carbohydrates and fat our bodies use as “fuel” when performing activities at different intensity.
Activity level Protein Carbs Fat
Resting 1 to 5% 35% 60%
Low intensity 5-8% 70% 15%
Moderate Intensity 2-5% 40% 55%
High Intensity 2% 95% 3%
This chart is still true today, but the important question remains, is using fat as our principal fuel the best way to stay lean? Your body’s adaptation will be to store more fat to better prepare for the next time you exercise and by doing so, it most likely will sacrefice muscles. Your body will be saying: “food – I better store that as fat, because we are going to be running for a long time again tomorrow.” This defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? According to the above mentioned chart, why not just rest and burn more calories from fat!?
Dr. Sears emphasizes that the way you exercise will affect the way your metabolism operates for the next few days facilitating fat burning. He suggests short-burst exercises that will tell your body not to store fat as energy because it will not be using it. You will use carbohydrates for the exercise and burn the fat after your exercise session is done. Several studies were done comparing short-burst training versus long-term endurance training. Results show an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat percentage with the short burst training. This really makes sense to me and would explain why body builders and sprinters are so muscular and lean.
Here are some of the benefits of short-burst exercises on your health, it will:
-Improve maximum cardiac output
-Better cardiac adjustment to your heart’s demand
-Help your body lose fat in as little as 10 minutes per day
-Improve cholesterol levels
-Provide some anti-aging benefits
My first thought when reading about this was, “Brilliant, but what about the person who is really out of shape – aren’t they going to hurt themselves?” Your higher intensity level is uniquely yours and you don’t have to start by sprinting down the street full throttle from the get-go! An elliptical or a recumbent bike can safely do the job. Always with any exercise program, please consult your doctor.
Getting to Know Your Heart Rate at Rest and During Exercise
You will often see at the gym, colored charts to guide you, but those charts only take into consideration a person’s age and not their level of fitness. A 40-year old marathon runner’s fitness condition will be very different than a 40-year-old who never exercises. This is why one’s resting heart rate needs to be taken into the equation to truly evaluate one’s working “zone”. To find your individual “zone,” take your resting heart rate when you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else. To do this, take your right index and middle finger and put them on the inside of your wrist close to your thumb and count the beats for 15 seconds. Then multiply that number by four to calculate your one-minute count.
Next, with your resting heart rate, calculate your optimal cardiovascular range using the heart rate reserve method:
Target heart rate lower limit = (220 – age) – Resting Heart Rate x
0.60 + Resting Heart Rate
Target heart rate upper limit = (220 – age) – Resting Heart Rate x
0.80 + Resting Heart Rate
My morning resting heart rate is 50 and I’m 39 years old:
(220 – 39) – 50 x 0.60 +50 = 129 beats per minute is the lower limit of workout range
(220 – 39) – 50 x 0.80 +50 = 155 beats per minute is the higher limit of workout range
My exercise zone should be between 129 and 155 beats per minute. When working with short-burst exercise, I should be working at the upper end of that zone or even a little higher.
Tools to Help You
Heart rate monitors are readily available to help you measure your heart rate and stay within your zone. This eliminates the trouble of counting your heart beats per minute, which can sometimes be challenging when you are exercising. It will also help you record your workout and keep you on track with your goals. You can buy them at any sporting goods stores.
You can find out more information on the PACE™ program at www.alsears.com. You can order his book, where he gives you the necessary steps to customize your own program and achieve amazing results.
One of my favorite fast and convenient routines is the skipping rope. One minute jumping plus one minute rest for 10 times, equals a 20-minute workout in total. I keep track of my heart rate at the end of the minute and just before starting to jump again. My chart looks something like this:
Heart rate after 1 minute of jumping – Heart rate after 1minute of rest:
1 – 139 73
2 – 144 71
3 – 140 65
4 – 136 72
5 – 148 76
6 – 152 83
7 – 158 86
8 – 152 80
9 - 156 85
10 - 153 79
You can perform interval training on the bike or the elliptical. Now, this does not mean you should not run a marathon if you truly enjoy it! This information is a guide to give you another way to look at your exercise program. Exercise on the go…means short and efficient workouts that will help you reap the best benefits!
Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp, B.Sc., D.C. is co-author of the book Wellness On The Go: Take the plunge – it’s Your Life! Dr. Beauchamp is a chiropractor, a certified personal fitness trainer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a corporate wellness consultant and an inspirational speaker. She can be reached at www.drnathaliebeauchamp.com