My Approach to Healthy Training
Published on July, 27th 2017
By Greg Wells
My mission in life is to solve a billion person problem. I want to help the people who struggle with sleep. People who are inactive. People with chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And people with mental illnesses. Ultimately when I do this, it will make the world a better place for my kids.
The billion person problem that I want to solve: sleeplessness (~25%), mental illness (~20%), obesity (~60-70%) & physical inactivity (~85%) pic.twitter.com/9642rnzGeK
— Dr. Greg Wells (@drgregwells) July 27, 2017
To help make this happen, I want to share with you my approach to healthy training. Basically – this is my weekly plan and the 4 types of fitness training I try to get in each week. Unless you’re training for the Olympics in a one sport, this can also serve as your training plan. I hope it helps you in a huge way.
Here’s me explaining the concept at the Titan Summit last year:
Simply, try to target each of these aspects of your fitness each week and you will ensure that your body and mind are getting everything that they need to get better.
The 4 “F”’s of Fitness: Fit, Force, Fast & Flex
The first of the 4 areas of fitness is “Fit”. What I mean by Fit is cardiovascular endurance. I want your heart, lungs, blood, and circulatory vessels to be healthy and high-functioning. Each time that you walk, jog, run, swim, or bike and you sustain that exercise over a period of time longer than 20 minutes you trigger a number of positive adaptions in the body. Your heart muscles get stronger and the chambers in your heart increase in size so they can pump more blood. You get more alveoli in your lungs which are microscopic air sacs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the air and the lungs. Cardiovascular exercise also increases the number of capillaries in your muscles and organs. Capillaries are the very very small blood vessels that take blood deep into your tissues. Normally there are about 3 capillaries for each muscle fiber, but if you do cardio exercise regularly this number can increase 40% and we can end up with 5 capillaries per fiber. All of these adaptations come together over time to help you feel energetic, prevent you from getting sick, and give you the opportunity to reach your potential at anything you’re passionate about.
The second F of Fitness is “Force”. It is so important that you train your muscles to be able to create more force which helps you be stronger. Exercise science tells us that when you do strength training you are engaging a different energy system and muscle fibres than you use when you’re doing cardiovascular endurance training. As long as you maintain a reasonable intensity, strength training will require the kind of force that is generated by your Type II muscle fibres and your anaerobic energy system. These are the twin engines that get involved when you sprint, jump or do heavy lifting. Type II muscles exert more power but they also burn glucose faster and produce lactic acid – the waste product that makes your muscles burn during intense workouts. By engaging your type II muscles, you are working the full spectrum of your muscle fibres. This develops your total muscle strength and prepares your body for situations when you have to pick up the pace – like the final kick when the finish line comes into sight, or sprinting for a bus. New research also shows that higher intensity training can be powerfully beneficial for your brain.
Muscle growth occurs when the micro-tears work in conjunction with a molecule called mTOR that is produced during a strength session to stimulate the production of new actin and myosin protein chains. In essence, you break them down to build them up! The molecule mTOR doesn’t just stimulate your muscles to get stronger, it does some amazing things as it circulates throughout your body during and after a strength session. mTOR’s basic effects are that it activates fat, liver and brain cells and increases your general health by making you stronger and more efficient. But it is also believed that mTOR can help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among others.
Next up is Fast. Fast simply means moving quickly and interval training is a great way to make that happen. Interval training is a powerful way to improve both your overall fitness and specific fitness in your type 2 muscle fibres and your anaerobic system inside your muscles. With this training, you develop your endurance capacity (aerobic energy system and type I muscles) and your strength capacity (anaerobic energy systems and type II muscles). When you do that, you teach your body how to process metabolic waste more efficiently, which improves your overall fitness and increases your ability to recover on the fly.
Interval training is a form of exercise that involves varying the pace of your workout session anywhere from an easy jog right through to a maximal effort. This combination engages both your aerobic energy system and type I muscles – which are used for endurance – and anaerobic energy systems and type II muscles, which are used for power and speed. The endurance parts of your system are highly efficient and produce very little waste, but they do not generate a significant amount of power. The strength parts of your system produce the burst you need for sprinting or heavy lifting but are highly inefficient and produce a significant amount of waste in the form of lactic acid. By engaging both systems at once you teach your body how to process metabolic waste while running, which improves your ability to recover after a hill or short sprint, and enhances your overall fitness.
The final item is Flexibility. I’d like you to spend some time each week (ideally a little bit each day) stretching. Stretching (also known as building flexibility or mobility) is an incredibly important element of overall fitness that is often overlooked. Yes, there is an ongoing debate about exactly what kind of stretching is best to do and when, but I’ll cut through that and show you what to do and when. In an era when so many of our activities decrease our flexibility – such as sitting for long periods – flexibility and mobility matter a lot, both for our health and for our physical performance.
The most important thing you need to know about flexibility is this: it is good for you. Done properly, stretching can help you decrease muscle tension, reduce pain (make sure you seek professional help if you are having pain!) and improve your range of motion and exercise performance. The second most important thing to know is that the word “stretching” refers to many different types of exercises that do many different things to the body. We just need to understand what to do, how to do it – and when. The ongoing debate in the scientific and running communities about how an athlete should approach stretching is sometimes taken as a sign that there are no significant benefits to increased flexibility. It just isn’t true. The truth is that stretching is a complicated topic but understanding and applying the science of flexibility and proper warm up techniques is essential if you are going to improve your performance.
Work each week to get a little bit of each of the 4 F’s of Fitness into your routine. Keep that up and over time you’ll be amazed at how your body and mind adapt and your health improves.
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