As mentioned in a previous post, I just finished reading Rediscover Your Native Fitness by Dr. Al Sears. While I found it to be an interesting read, I'm not sure I agree with everything he talks about in the book. I believe that the fact he is a doctor is supposed to sway me towards his side, but I've learned that in the fitness industry, many “doctors” just say things to make money. Now, I am not saying Dr. Sears is in this just to make money and I don't doubt that all of his methods (discussed below) will work, I just doubt whether they are the absolute most efficient way to go.
The premise of the book is that we do not need long cardio sessions or weight training sessions. The reasons are simple according to Dr. Sears–long cardio sessions encourage your body to store fat and weight training sessions throw your muscular system out of balance and decreases your strength.
While I tend to agree with Dr. Sears regarding the effectiveness of long cardio sessions on fat burning potential, I don't agree that it encourages you to store fat.
First, Dr. Sears says that long cardio sessions force your heart to adapt in such a way that it downsizes its capacity. He cites a study in which long distance runners were tested immediately after a run and their LDS (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides actually has increased. They also found that prolonged running disrupted the balance of blood thinners and thickeners, elevating inflammatory factors and clotting levels.
Dr. Sears states that burning fat during cardio is going to cause your body to store fat in the long term. He first cites some of the leanest body builders who state you should “never do cardio.” He publishes a great chart that shows various levels of activity (resting, low intensity, moderate intensity and high intensity) and the percentage of protein, carbs and fat that are used for fuel at each level. This chart shows that at rest your body consumes fat for 60% of its fuel with moderate intensity coming in close at 55%. Low intensity only consumes fat for 15% of its fuel needs and high intensity only consumes fat for 3% of its fuel needs. The key words from Dr. Sears are:
“Burning fat while exercising signals to your body that it needed the fat. This trains your body to make more fat for the next time you exercise. Your body then replenishes your fat each time you eat and becomes efficient at building and preserving fat…”
Interesting comments, but I'm not sure it is true. My own reasoning for doing high intensity cardio for short durations is that it preserves muscle. Muscle helps burn fat, so we want to preserve as much of it as possible.
This leads us to Dr. Sears' PACE cardio program, which, to me, is essentially HIIT, but with planned changes to avoid adaptation. Perhaps this is the part I found most beneficial about the book–the idea that HIIT is the way to burn fat in the long run (even after you are done exercising), but that you need to change things up often in order to avoid adaptation. Dr. Sears talks alot about an oxygen debt and how important that is because it actually helps your heart to increase its capacity.
Dr. Sears then defines what PACE is all about. Progressivity–repeated changes int he same direction. Rather than increasing the length of time of your cardio sessions, you increase the intensity level of the cardio sessions. You need to change your routine over time. Accelerationn–adapting faster to demands. The concept is that you force your body to respond more quickly to the demands you place on it. This improves your capacity and that forces you to change up your routine to avoid adaptation.
Dr. Sears then begins to explain his “unique” approach to cardio, that turns out to just be HIIT. For example, he gives you short session to strive for that includes 5 sets. You do a 90 second warm up followed by set 1 with 1 minute exertion and 90 seconds rest, set 2 includes 50 seconds exertion and 90 seconds rest, set 3 includes 40 seconds exertion and then 90 seconds rest, set 4 includes 30 seconds exertion and then 90 seconds rest, set 5 includes 20 seconds exertion and then 90 seconds rest. He tells you to go all out, even stating that you should be sweating and breathing extremely hard after the exertion phase of each set. To me, this is just a HIIT session with varying intervals, but that's exactly what I like about it. I believe (and will put it to the test) that by changing up the length of the intervals you will avoid adaptation and will give yourself the ability to continually burn fat. Combine this with changing what machine you are using for your cardio on a regular basis and I think you have a recipe for success.
Here is where I disagree with Dr. Sears. He claims that weight training does not increase your strength. Instead, he says it simply promotes “bloated muscle fibers” that increase the size, but not strength, of your muscles. Dr. Sears promotes calisthenics and body weight exercises for increasing strength. He says this is the “natural way” to achieve strength gains. I personally did this type of thing for a long time after my back surgery and can attest that, while you get some good gains at first, it plateaus very quickly and after that, it is hard to break the plateau.
I believe that using Dr. Sears approach to cardio will help you burn fat. He keeps the sessions very short (less than 20 minutes always) and continually changes up the interval times. This avoids adaptation of any kind. He stresses the importance of going very hard to increase the metabolic effect on your body that lasts many hours after your session. I am going to give this a try starting with tomorrow's cardio session. I plan to use PACE for the next 12 weeks to see what results I get. I will do cardio 6 days a week, but for just 20 minutes (max) each session. I will mix in outdoor PACE sessions for a real change of pace. Some of my interval training will be time based while others will be distance based (1/4 mile exertion, 1/4 mile recovery). I will be tracking my max heart rate during this time and will post those results with my weekly stats. This is how I am going to put PACE to the test. Please continue reading this blog as I chronicle my findings from using PACE.
I will, however, continue to focus on my weight training sessions despite what Dr. Sears says regarding that issue.
|Week Begins 3/23/2008|
|M1 *||5:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||3:30 a.m.||5:30 a.m.|
|M2 *||8:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||6:30 a.m.||8:30 a.m.|
|M3 *||11:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.||11:30 a.m.|
|M4 *||2:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||12:30 p.m.||2:30 p.m.|
|M5 *||5:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||3:30 p.m.||5:30 p.m.|
|M6 *||7:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||6:30 p.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|Water *||240 oz|
|Post-workout nutrition *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pre-sleep nutrition *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cals within 5% (+/-) *||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mission 2 Total Complete||742|
|Mission 2 Total Possible||750|
|* = Counts towards total|
|Mission 2: Day 50 of 100|
|Meal/Training Plan: Real-time accountability|
|Day 50: March 23, 2008|
|5:30 a.m.||Meal 1: Protein shake with banana and Udos and oatmeal and 3 glasses of water|
|5:30 a.m.||Supplements: Animal Pak, Glucosamine Chondroiten, calcium, chromium, glutamine, BCAAs|
|6:00 a.m.||Workout: Stretching session (1 hour)|
|7:00 a.m.||Supplements: Protein shake, BCAAs, glutamine|
|9:00 a.m.||Meal 2: 1 egg, 5 egg whites, oatmeal, large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|12:00 p.m.||Meal 3: Protein shake with banana and Udos and Oatmeal mixed with non-fat milk, large salad, and 3 glasses of water|
|3:00 p.m.||Meal 4: Chicken (6 oz), cucumber and large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|6:00 p.m.||Meal 5: Lean beef, asparagus, large salad and 3 glasses of water|
|8:30 p.m.||Supplements: Casein protein shake, glutamine, calcium and 3 glasses of water|
Today was a rest day, so there is no workout to report.
Thought for the Day:
Like Jesus Christ, we all have our cross to bear. However, if you believe that He rose from the dead to save us from our sinful nature, He will bear our cross for us. Getting right with God is another way to get right with your physique. As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Next time you are in the gym and approaching a very difficult lift (maybe a personal best) take a moment to ask Jesus to help you with the lift and I guarantee you will get the help you are seeking.
Until tomorrow…GET BACK TO LIFTING!