We are designed as human beings to work in manual labor. Up until 100 or so years ago most humans had to work extremely hard manually to survive. What we actually do has changed of course and the most marked difference has been that now we do mostly cognitive work, mental work versus manual work.
However our bodies have not changed much over the past 100 years. As a species (this is debated so I am being conservative) – we are 100,000 years old. The Story of the Human Body, Daniel Lieberman
I don’t believe that we are going to shift evolution’s adaptations too much in 100 years comparatively after 100,000 years of evolution. The problem is that our world today moves at a rapid pace. The people I work with in particular move at a pace that is electric. Technology is the main accelerator. Facts here
If, as a top IT Leader, you don’t pull yourself outside the pace of life at least 5 times a week then you are going to be effected “BY” the world around you versus “BEING” the “effect” in the world. Essentially you need to slow down in order to speed up. I am not suggesting this as yet another way to be more productive.
I am suggesting this in order to boost creativity, confidence, presence, centeredness, awareness, intelligence, emotional fortitude, leadership, and bravery. These are all values and virtues that we need in all aspects of life. When you do interval training right in the middle of the day you actually ‘save time’ because you shift your entire physiology to one that is at the top end of human beings. What comes out of you after an interval session is 100% more heightened, and profound than before you started.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John J. Ratey, MD
“what neuroscientists have discovered in the past 5 years alone paints a riveting picture of the biological relationship between the body, the brain, and the mind. To keep our brains at peak performance, our bodies need to work hard.”
In an article by Thomas McGregor analysis is drawn on Richard Branson, the 4th richest person in the United Kingdom with over $4.6 billion to his name, who started with nothing and went on to create the model brand, the Virgin Group. He refers to a video issued on Youtube in 2011, when Branson answers a simple question, “What do you do to become most productive? You’ve mentioned working out and staying fit?” with which he answered, “It should go without saying”. He also goes on to mention three main components that play into high productivity achievers. His direct comments were:
“Keeps the endorphins going…”
“The brain functioning well…”
“I can achieve twice as much in a day by keeping fit.”
With the speed and complexity and the consequences of technology leadership, I think this book will give you a more deep understanding about how “the science of how exercise cues the building blocks of learning in the brain; how it effects mood, anxiety, and attention; how it guards against stress and reverses the effects of ageing in the brain….”
To do this you need to bring yourself back to your 20 – 30 year old body and remember what you used to be able to do. Ask yourself why can’t I still do this? You may not physically be able to do the volume or amount, but why can’t you do 10 pushups and why can’t you then set a goal of doing 40.
WHY DO THIS?
There are a couple of reasons why. I am going to keep this in the business context because the health benefits are obvious and there are many studies on this from a health point of view.
- Brain research is showing that we need to have this type of effort in our life because our bodies need it to re-set and re-boot each day. Computers need to be rebooted and so do humans.
- We need to experience FLOW and you need to experience flow in order to reach your highest potential. Exercise gives us more flow.
I have found one of the best ways to do this is by interval training. Let me explain.
What are examples of Interval training?
- Weight lifting
- Push ups
- Air squats
- Climbing stairs
Measuring Tools (I am defining anything that you can test yourself with)
- Heart Rate
- Skill Challenges
My Interval Sample
You can see in this how I pick a relatively short time frame. I chose a track but this could be done around your building or in front of your house. It is simply a function of what facilities are available to you. If all you have are the stairs in your building use these. If all you have is a small place for pushups use this.
Here is how I start
- 2 sets of 15-20 (3-5 times per week)
- Air squats
- 2 set of 30
- After completing my Ironman efforts I look back and wish that I had spent more time with this type of core training. I love air squats. It is a great way to engage muscles and facial tissue that needs to be reminded of its usefulness
- 2 sets of 15
- I met a guy in a park using this handmade tool. I love it and it costs $5. It does not have to cost you a fortune to do this.
- 2 sets of 15
- I use either a rock wall, chair, picnic bench, or stadium steps to bound. It is a great warmup and I love it for ensuring and teaching the body that we want it to keep it’s athleticism
I do these as a circuit prior to running or sometimes will do my running and interlace these manual intervals into the running intervals to get a whole body workout
In this interval running workout it took me 45 minutes to complete (not including the efforts listed above). If you don’t have the time for this just shorten the above or the below). The elapsed time doesn’t matter. However I find that 20 minutes minimum is a good target. If you are interested the model watch I used is a bit dated for a Garmin (product review here) but it is a goody although a bit big.
- Total workout that included the running intervals
- I wear a heart rate monitor and this is important because it takes the emotion and feeling out of the equation. Your heart will tell you how hard you are working during the effort. I am not going to go into all the heart related approaches to training in this post but 220- (my age 45) = 175. This is my theoretical max heart rate. You can see in fig 2 that my average throughout the workout was 137 and the max was 177. (POST HEART RATE STUFF HERE)
- The average pace per mile, calories burned etc.
The warmup phase. This part gets more and more important the older that I get. Regardless of how fit I am I find that I need about 15-20 minutes of running to warmup. If I do the warmup listed above then this really contributes beneficially to how engaged my body is in the effort and remaining injury free. I rarely push through the warmup. I just let my body get warm. It is also important to not listen to your body during the warmup. It will complain and not be into it 70% of the time. Just get the 15-20 warmup in and the body will start being happy again. Then it is time to start.
Mile Warmup: 9:33 min per mile pace, .94 miles, Heart rate is climbing to 147 average
Let’s get into the specifics on how to do this.
Here are the intervals: 4 x 400M (1/4 mile), 2 x 800M – I am not going to show the 800M because I am not sure of everyone’s deep interest level of the specifics. If you would like to see the 800M results just request them in the comments otherwise I will assume that you are happy with the concepts up and through the first 2 x 400Ms.
The first 400M
Now I am not trying to trail blaze this first one. I am looking to set a pattern. I am getting into a rhythm and holding. I am not going so hard that I am needing to throw up. Pace 6:22 per mile, .25 miles, heart 156. The key for me here is that I did not start the next one until my heart rate gets to 135. In these I am usually ending with a heart rate in the high 160s. I want to teach my body how to recover quickly, but I do need it to recover to a certain level before beginning again. Now this was my target for this workout. And, I might add I made it up when I got there. This is not something currently that I am getting very ‘retentive’ about. My goal is to go back over a couple of weeks and graph my recovery and see how efficient my body can be with the same effort. The biggest indicator of this will be my ability to recover and to see my heart rate decreasing in the need for recovery. The rest was 2:19. My average heart was 151 but my heart did reach 135 before I started again even though the average for the rest was 2:19
400M number 2 – you can see this one is a little faster and the heart rate is a bit higher as well.
The point I want to show here is that for me in this interval I incorporated rest and effort. I want to get the effort high and also recover. I proceeded to do 2 more intervals of 400s and then to do the 800Ms. I hope this gives you some good ideas of what you can do for yourself moving forward
You can incorporate this approach with swimming and with all the activities that I have listed above.