Put the phone down and go to work!
(In the last part of this continuing series on training for appearance using mental toughness principles, I talked about the amazing and powerful effect of EPOC. When you ignite the EPOC effect in your body, you can literally burn stubborn fat for 48 hours. In order to get into this fat burning mode, you must do very high intensity workout protocols. CrossFit, the Litvinov and complex movements all excellent regimes to get you to increase lean body weight while dropping body fat.)
Leisurely cardio, on the other hand, does nothing to raise your EPOC levels. When you do that low intensity walk on the treadmill, yes you do burn fat But, as soon as you hop off, you stop burning fat at a higher level because you did not raise your metabolic rate. Low intensity workouts have no afterward effect on how your body burns calories. High intensity workouts, on the other hand, give you the desirable “after-burn” effect with the magic of EPOC. Remember the key is that you never want to burn fat during a WOD, but you want to burn fat after you are done working out.
The problem of high intensity work outs is that they are very difficult to complete. The workouts themselves become the training ground for the adversity that you must learn to overcome that is the central theme to this mental toughness program. So another way to look at this is that you can burn fat and get mentally tough at the same time. Also, doing high intensity is more time efficient as the average HIIT workout should take less than 30 minutes to complete. That’s a fraction of the time when compared to the hour plus long cardio with little to show for.
What’s worse is the fact that excess steady-state cardio work can waste away at your hard earned muscles. If you do low intensity for over 30 minutes, your body begins to release the fat and stress hormone – cortisol. Extended cardio can cause your adrenal glands to overwork and as a consequence cause too much cortisol production in your body. When this happens, your body will go into a catabolic state and begin to break down muscle tissue in order to use the protein found in your muscles for energy.
If the science is too difficult to comprehend, just compare the bodies of a competitive sprinter and marathon runner. An elite sprinter’s body is muscular and the training is based on high intensity and brief running. An elite marathon runner’s body is thin, but with little muscle mass. The average Joe Blow or soccer mom long distance runner can easily be described as “skinny fat.” They appear thin, but this due to illusion of lacking muscles. In reality “skinny fat” people have a very high ratio of fat to muscle in their body which explains why most of the have a gut.
This seems to be a contradiction, but this waste of muscle mass is usually what can happen when one does endless amounts of slow and steady running. Another good visual scenario is the lack of intensity in cardio seen at your gym – most people are barely trotting, having conversations, texting, talking on their phones, watching TV or reading. A good rule of thumb is if you can do another activity while working out then you are not working intensely. If you can have a conversation while doing a WOD, you are definitely not training hard enough! So put down your cell phone and get to work!
Now that the science is finally out and the contention against steady-state cardio has been made. However, I’m not putting down long distance runners. By all means, I respect their athleticism. Some of toughest SOBs I know are ultra-endurance runners. Running over 100 miles in extreme heat takes a special breed of toughness that I know I don’t have in myself. If you like to do hours and hours of cardio, so be it and do it. I would never ask you do stop doing anything you enjoy. Just understand that prolonged cardio can eat away at your muscles.
With the mental toughness program, there is the occasional 5k run, but there will be no excessively long cardio or long distance running. Besides strengthening your mental capacities, another goal of this program is to improve your over-all body composition.Again, as I stated the first part of this series, there is nothing wrong with wanting to enhance your physique. It is an important goal for me and I really haven’t met anybody that doesn’t want to look better naked. If they say they don’t care, they are lying to you. I know personally because when I first started to transition to athletic performance, I used to say I didn’t give a shit about how I look, but it was just a lie. Well, not entirely. A that time, I was trying to re-prioritize my training goals and rid myself of the years of doing useless workouts that showed no results in helping me look better while I was the sack. And yes, those waste of time workout protocols were individual body part training and leisure cardio work.
Luckily for all of you, you don’t have to lie to yourself. There is nothing wrong or superficial about wanting to look better. I hope I was about to convince you all with my simple science explanations that brief and intense workouts are the most effective way to reducing fat and not slow cardio work. Only through high intensity work can you get the EPOC effect in your body. The major flaw for people trying to shed pounds is that they work out way too long and not hard enough.
This mental toughness program is all about doing grueling full-body work in the shortest time possible. The work is clearly the opposite of what misinformed mainstream gym rats are doing. The number one priority of this training is to strengthen you mind-set, and with all the hard work the aesthetics will happen. If you have a strong work ethic and are willing to pay the price for rigorous work, this mental toughness and conditioning program will do you wonders in all areas of your life.
The Better Alternatives
Single body part training and long and steady cardio has been the mainstream fitness norms for decades. Go to any commercial gym and you’ll see the majority doing either one. If you want to achieve mental strength and a more visually appealing physique you must do the opposite of what the establishment is doing. Switching from individual body part training to full-body and steady-state cardio to intense sprinting seems relative simple. On paper, the difference between the old methods and the better alternatives should be clear. Revamp yourself with full-body and brief anaerobic workouts that will cause havoc on your mental and physical capabilities. If you have what it takes to overcome the rampage of adversity thrown at you, you will learn the true meaning of what it takes to become mentally tough – and earn a more fully developed physique to show for it.
Today’s strength day WOD –
5 sets of 5
Dumbbell incline bench press
Dips (do as many reps as you can just short of failure)
Toes to bar (do as many reps as you can just short of failure)
Repeat after me – “It is all about the hormones….it is all about the hormones.” In this series on “Getting the Best Body Ever,” the central theme has been putting your body in an optimal hormonal response if you want to get muscular and lean. Namely, you want your body to generate natural testosterone and human growth hormone to help improve your body numbers. Now you know that full-body strength workouts is one of the best way to get you these results.
On the other hand, long cardio work can put your body in anabolic state where your release the muscle wasting hormone cortisol in your system. Now that you know the science behind how to build a better body and how to breakdown a body, which one will choose? Do you want to go for a boring 15 mile run to get that undesirable “skinny fat” look or do you want to lift some heavy metal and get that muscular lean look with your abs popping out?
The choice is yours.
You already wasted enough time and can’t afford to squander any more chances. Time is passing you by. You’re getting older by each day and your metabolism has slowed down. But, its still not too late. When you focus on stimulating your hormones, your right hormones, you can change your body composition very quickly. Getting a body that wows those in your inner circle is the easy part. The hard part is developing a strong mind that goes along with your new levels of physical strengths.With a lot of work and dedication to this mental toughness program, you can achieve both. You just got to get used to overcoming a lot awful shit in the meantime. But, it all will be worth it in the long run.
Strengthen the mind and the aesthetics will follow,
I live and die by these word. In time, so will you.
Scaled back version of the WOD –
1. Do three sets of three reps.
Acceptable substitutions –
1. You can do flat bench presses with a barbell instead.
2. If you don’t have a dip bar, do push-ups.