Books · Weight loss

Keep the pounds off these holidays with bodyweight training

canstockphoto8652827Before you begin making all kinds of wild new year’s resolutions why not try a few things that will reduce the damage from excessive festive feasting?

How can bodyweight training limit the damage of a good ole festive binge?

Tim Ferriss popularised the ‘damage control’ concept a few years back in his book The Four Hour Body. The book is filled with “hacks” in achieving exceptional results in physical performance, weight loss, strength and muscle gain and even sex.

Tim outlines process for managing the effects of bingeing with bodyweight muscle contractions.

His thoughts on weight gain extend beyond just exercise into things such as controlling insulin sensitivity. However, I found his exercise methods for limiting the adverse effects of high fat and carb intake intriguing. I’ve adapted his ideas a bit as I’ve had a bit of practice and can speak a bit from what I’ve done the past few Christmases. Besides, I found Tim’s protocol a bit to easy.

1) Timing
As per Tim’s prescription: immediately before a binge and 90 minutes following the meal.

2) Effort
It doesn’t have to be Herculean but you should be breathing heavily by the end of the sessions.

3) Exercises, duration
Shoot for 90 seconds of sustained effort from some big multi-joint exercises. My favourites include:

– Bodyweight squats performed relatively slowly. Try a 5 second descent followed by 3 seconds on the return.
– Push ups performed at a comfortable pace. To get 90 seconds of work time do your chosen push up for as long as you can mange before burning out and then shift to explosive wall push ups to finish
– Finish with 3×10 seconds of Hardstyle planks. Hardstyle? The term, coined by legendary kettlebell and strength trainer Pavel Tsatsouline, is a set of techniques for making the plank so intense 10s will have you begging for a break.

Make a plank hard style by pushing the elbows forward in the plank while bringing the elbows closer together. This destabilises the body quite well but we haven’t finished yet. Shift into high gear by then contracting your abs and glutes by pulling your elbows and feet towards each other (without actually moving them).

What does all this do?

Good question. How could such a simple 5 minute routine do anything for managing a binge of such proportions? Turns out a short burst of muscle contractions bring glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) into the muscles. Tim Ferriss says the increased presence of GLUT-4 opens more “muscular gates” through which glucose can flow before insulin is triggered to send glucose to the fat cells for storage.

I’ve made this routine a lot harder than Tim’s original protocol for the simple reason that the muscular contraction component is the important point here. Short bursts of medium-intense contractions will do the trick!

In any case, because I work out with my bodyweight only I’ll be getting an entire workout in — wherever I happen to be. And that to me is what makes bodyweight calisthenics truly awesome. Happy holidays from downunder!

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