May, 2014, Costa Rica

My perfect Quito workout—

May, 2014
My new friend Jarrett,  May 2014


Living at 9300′ altitude can be challenging.    I needed to start doing some exercise but what?    Since the one muscle in the body that directly effects everything else is the heart I thought that some type of cardio exercise  would be a good place to start.  Finding  ways to exercise effectively  can be particularly challenging when your traveling  around the world.   Joining a gym here is not really practical especially if you’ve been spoiled by the high tech American gyms.    Now I knew that I particularly wanted to do something that worked my heart and moved the blood throughout my body—and I wanted to do it outdoors.    What could I do here in the Andes of  Quito?

Then it “HIIT”me—“high intensity interval training” that is—yes HIIT could be the perfect solution to my problem.   It would be very simple and convienient as all I had to do was strap on my Polar heart monitor and walk out my front door. It would also be effective as I live on the side of a steep hill and just walking a few brisk steps up my street would wind me quickly.     The next day I began to test my theory and by the end of the 45 minute session I had all but finalized my new workout—my perfect cardio routine.

The idea of HIIT, after a short warm up, is to go as hard as you can for a short period of time  say 30 seconds to a minute  and then rest for about 90 seconds until your heart rate has returned to around 67% of your maximum rate.    It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you use as long as you can reach between 85% and 95% of your maximum heart rate  by going all out within the 30 second or more time period.

As it turns out my workout was simple, straight forward and effective.   Because I am either running slowly or walking fast up hill it is also low impact there bye eliminating the risk of a high impact injury such as a pulled leg muscle.  Since my hill is very steep all I have to do is  start walking upward as quickly as possible.    BANG—my heart rate is up to 130 BPM or more before I know it—which is 87% of my maximum heart rate of 149BPM(220 minus my age of  71= 149MHR).

Don’t forget I’m at an altitude of 9300′ so the effect on my heart  comes quickly.   Because I’m outdoors on a street side hill I visually pick a good resting spot up the hill and head for it.    Instead of using a clock as the measurement devise I use my heart rate monitor.   So in this  8 leg course each leg I end up raising my heart rate between a minimum of130BPM and a maximum of 143BPM  (which equals  between 87% and 96% of my MHR) depending on the particular leg and how fast I’m moving.   This for me is a perfect exercise.

By the time my heart rate is above 130BPM or more I am seriously sucking air, which is good, real good.   ” Why” you ask?     Because this is when, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the main  benefits of a HIIT workout start to kick in.   In his program called “Sprint Eight”  he states that the optimum number of reps for a session is between 6-8 so being the over achiever that I am I do 8 legs.

Walking up the hill, each leg has it’s own particular look and challenge making the course  more interesting.   However the result is the same—work for 30 seconds or more  and then rest for approximately 90 seconds or until my HR is down to around 100BPM—8 times.   This all  takes me about 18 minutes up because some legs are longer—then about 20 minutes to walk back down the hill—for about 40 minutes total and the workout is finished.   In order to maximize the overall benefits I try to do it 3 times a week—which is perfect—but never less than twice.

This workout is short but it’s hard.

The first couple of times I did it I felt my heart pump so hard I actually thought it would jump out of my chest or that I might drop dead of a heart attack.   But not to worry—according to Dr. Mercola this maximum stress is actually very good for your heart assuming you don’t have any pre-existing  medical issues.

This workout is very effective.

Have you ever wondered why Olympic sprinters have those perfect muscular bodies while the marathoners look like the guys who get sand kicked in their face at the beach?   The primary answer along with their genetics is  in the way they train.     The long distance athletes are basically utilizing a long and slow training routine—just like most of the people you see working those cardio machines for hours at the gym.   While the sprinters are outdoors on the track running “repeats” of all out sprints.    Did you ever wonder why those gym patrons always look the same?     It’s because the long slow aerobic type of exercise just doesn’t work when it  comes to body sculpting or even calorie burning.     What does work is High Intensity Interval Training.

Here they are some of the the benefits of  practicing the Sprint 8—High Intensity Interval Training.

1.   With each correctly executed Sprint 8 workout session your body receives an injection of the growth hormone (HGH) which lasts in your system for 2 hours after the end of your work out.     During this time I eat 4 boiled eggs in order to maximize the time the HGH remains in my system.     Beginning  around the age of 30 the amount of HGH in our bodies begins to decline—to alarmingly low levels for the sedentary majority.   HGH has the effect of reducing excess fat while it hardens muscle at the same time.

Our bodies are made up of three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast and super fast—which moves 10 times faster than the slow muscle fibers.    The Super 8 type of workout is the only  type of workout that effects the super fast fibers and it’s only by effecting these fibers that HGH is produced.   This production of HGH is the main reason why the Super 8 program is so effective in reducing the effects of aging.

2.    It raises your basic metabolism for up to 72 hours after your workout is completed.     The calorie burn in an aerobic workout is over shortly after the workout is over there bye limiting the calories burned to the exercise itself.   However the increased calorie burn from the Sprint 8 workout continues on from 48 to 72 hours after the exercise has ended there bye accounting for a significantly larger number of total calories burned.

3.    The last benefit may actually be the best  one of all—adding years to your life on a cellular level.    It is widely  believed that we age because our cells age.   It has also been shown that engaging in the Sprint 8 type of exercise will reduce the rate of shortening of telomeres which are the tails on the end of your chromosomes.    Telomeres shorten for various reasons like smoking and a poor diet along with normal aging  throughout a persons life until at a certain point they become so short that we merely die of old age.     Scientists claim that even if we constantly ate the perfect diet and did the perfect exercise the most years we apparently could hope for would be 120 because of the natural telomere shortening.     However that could still amount to up to an extra 30 or 40 years of healthy living.

I highly recommend the “Sprint 8” HIIT workout for everyone in good health.

While I do prefer running hills as my favorite form of Sprint 8 there are several other ways of achieving the desired results.    For example,   in 2011 I lived at the top of a 6 story apartment building in Accra, Ghana.   I began a program of walking down to the street then running up to the top.   As Accra is at sea level  it was not quite as challenging as my Quito program (at 9300′ few things are) however the results were similar.    Another method I found to be the best in the gym is the “stairmills” machine  which is actually a revolving staircase where you must actually lift your foot off the surface for each step—just like climbing stairs.    Outside of my Quito workout this is the best method of all as you can control the speed of the climb by touching a control panel and by not leaning on the rails during the work portion of each interval.    Like Quito this machine can really kick your butt.