While Effective Health is a combination of what you eat (and drink) and fitness I’ll try and treat each separately but both in my opinion are as important as each other for reasons that will be come clear as I progress.
My journey to fitness started in July 2013 and has had tweaks along the way but one element has remained constant and fundamentally enables my Effective Health to be sustainable. Let me explain.
Now I’ll confess off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of exercise so my initial challenge back in 2013 was to find something that was ‘value for money’ ie an exercise that is effective for taking the least amount of time. I really didn’t (and still don’t) want to spend hours in the gym. My goal at that time was to lose weight; to burn fat. I understood that belly fat, the unseen visceral fat that surrounds your organs was an issue. I also had a general understanding that exercise would also help with my headspace so that was a secondary goal.
What is the best exercise to burn belly fat?
I googled ‘most effective exercise that takes least amount of time’ (possibly ‘fat burning exercise’ was also part of the search criteria). It lead me to an article from Dr Mercola (who I’ll talk more about at a later date) regarding something called PEAK 8 sprint training. Twenty minutes of exercise 2 to 3 times a week and it continues to work its magic after you’ve left the gym!!! No!?; could it be? Yes it could! Surely things that are too good to be true rarely are, but here was something that was true. A truly Effective exercise for someone that doesn’t like to spend all their time in a gym and it burns fat; what wasn’t to like about that value proposition!?
Let me try and explain what PEAK 8 exercise is.
- What is it?
It is a form of High Intensity Interval Training
- Why is it called PEAK 8?
You undertake 8 intervals of high intensity sprints. The graph below shows my heart rate during Peak 8 exercise. Note the 8 heart rate ‘peaks’, hence the name Peak 8.
3. How do you do it?
I currently undertake this on an elliptical-trainer. I used to do it on a static bike. This can also be done on a recumbent static bike and with a degree of modification can also be undertaken on a treadmill.
What I follow is a 2 minute warm up, then 30 seconds pushing hard followed by 90 seconds off the pace to allow your heart rate to recover. Then repeat a further 7 times followed by a couple of minutes warm down. 20 minutes, that’s all it takes.
During the 30 second sprint you want to push hard; the first 10-15 seconds will be ok but the last 15 seconds will be tough. This is normal and will show you that you are doing it correctly. At the end of each 30 seconds you want to be out of breath (struggle to speak) and have muscle burn. After 30 seconds recovery your breathing will become easier again.
For this to be effective the minimum you should be undertaking is 2-3 times a week (with at least a day’s recovery between each session).
Build up to the 8 repetitions if this is new to you.
I use an interval timer which I have on my iPhone; it regiments when you start and stop your ‘sprints’ over the 16 minutes it takes. I also wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I don’t bust anything! You should be aiming to reach and slightly exceed your Maximum Heart Rate (220 minus your age). I wear a Mio Fuse wrist based Heart Rate Monitor. There is a corresponding app for your smart phone that can record your sessions. The image above is from the Mio app. I strongly suggest that you wear a heart rate monitor.
As time progresses the PEAK 8 of 30s on 90s off (8 times) remains the same but you add resistance to challenge your body.
4. What are the benefits?
PEAK 8/high intensity short duration exercise is incredible.
- It’s duration short! In and out of the gym in approximately 20 minutes. This is a big plus for me and it’s what keeps it sustainable.
- Undertaken 2 – 3 times a week. Again a big benefit. Please don’t do more than this as it will do more harm than good. Your body needs recovery time.
- The fat burning magic happens after you stop! Although you’ll get some calorific burn during the exercise the bigger benefits occur for hours after you stop (Human Growth Hormone production which burns fat and creates lean muscle – I’ll write more about this in a separate post).
- The fat will start to come off and you’ll notice a difference within a week; again this gives you the motivation to carry on.
- I’m now the fittest I have ever been; I’d like to think this exercise has provided me with optimal fitness.
- It will make you younger… but this is a whole other subject! But it’s safe to say my lung age has improved significantly since I started doing PEAK 8. I am 45 years old; my lung age is 25!
This is important; DON’T have anything with sugar in it (eg sodas, energy drinks, energy bars, fruit, bread and pasta etc.) within 2 hours of finishing PEAK 8 as this will kill the production of Human Growth Hormone stone dead; this completely negates the benefits of undertaking this type of exercise.
Finally, always consult your GP before undertaking any exercise especially if you are taking medication or have any existing medical condition; listen to what your body is telling you.
PEAK 8 is Effective exercise for burning body fat. Reducing the amount of belly fat you carry is fundamentally one of the most important things you can do to optimise your health and extend your life.
2-3 times a week and no more than 20 minutes at a time; it’s do’able. It has to be one of the best discovery’s I’ve ever made for improving my health.
Read Dr Mercola’s article on Peak 8 fitness for more information.
P.S. If you are wary about going to the gym, be it because you are body conscious or you simply just don’t like the prospect of having to go somewhere to get fit then please have a look at this post on metabolism.
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