The secret that good personal trainers have known and used for decades is starting to come clear to everyone: Men, the fountain of youth is within us! The key to being younger and turning back the clock is a workout away. Yes, this secret is in women too, but not like it is for us, we’re full of it!
The secret is testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). Not really a secret right? True, but how many of you knew that you could control it without drugs, injections, supplements or other such measures?
The key to releasing HGH (the hormone that keeps us young and energetic) and testosterone (the hormone that maintains muscle mass and sex drive) is (wait for it….) exercise! Don’t stop reading just yet if you’ve heard this all before, because this is where it gets interesting.
You see, the problem with the way most people workout, is that they totally lack intensity. Lately programs such as P90X, CrossFit, Insanity and Boot Camps have begun to exploit what we trainers have been providing our clients for decades: Intensity.
By working out with a higher intensity, by pushing your body’s limits, you cause a flood of these growth hormones to occur and the result is that your body gets stronger, more youthful and leaner. Your muscles get stronger, tighter, harder and more functional. Fat is burned as a fuel source as hungry muscle starts to take over. Your metabolism starts to increase, and you become more energetic.
This all must be balanced of course. High intensity workouts must be partnered with healthy eating (big surprise!) and by working into this type of routine at a rate that your fitness levels can handle.
WARNING: If an unfit former jock or weekend warrior jumps full tilt into an intense workout, that guy will spend three days hobbling around hardly able to move, or worse: injured for months. You must warm up to this change by getting a base level of fitness started first.
Another rule to the release of this hormone, is that within 45 minutes of an intense workout, you must eat. You must eat well too. Choose healthy, lean protein, good clean carbohydrates and nice healthy fats. Chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice is an example in the simplest sense. A fast and delicious shake can work too: chocolate protein powder, strawberries, oats, water and a dash of olive oil. Fast, nutritious and delicious!
Further, you must know that for post workout eating, refined sugars will stop the HGH process from providing its benefits.
Back to the workouts, what does this intensity look like you ask? I see lots of guys come into the gym and do long, tedious workouts that haven’t changed in 10 or 15 years. You need to understand that your body is a stimulus response device – that means that it responds to challenges that are presented. If you lift something heavy often enough (stimulus), your body will respond by getting stronger. However, if you lift the same thing (like a dumbbell), the same way (bicep curls, 3×15 reps), for 10 years, the body no longer sees that as a change, and it will not adapt or grow stronger because it already knows how to do that exercise.
Learning new exercises is one way to change things up and intensity is another. Learn an entirely new way of doing things, like Kettle Bells, TRX Training, or by shocking your body with random exercises that you have never done before, plus shorten your gym time. Get in, get it done, get out!
Start with some basic motions with little or no weight (called a dynamic warm up), then get your heart rate up, and then get after it.
Finally, it is important to get a good sleep in. It is during the deep sleep portion that your body releases all these great hormones, and without it, you will just start to get worn out. Exercise, eat well, drink water and get some rest. Heard it before, but now you know why….
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out www.bestbodyfitness.com for more information.