Activity, and the Biochemical/Hormonal Milieu

Just a little something to chew on here, folks; another from the “this I believe, but cannot prove” files.  As always, I’m open to fresh takes and opposing views.  Questions, comments, complaints?  The floor is yours, so by all means let me hear what you think!

Ok, so here’s an interesting bit: now, once again we must keep in mind that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, however, this study (and this supporting NYT article) seem to support the idea of engaging in low-intensity “play” (or such activities as walking, for example) in addition to intermittent, high-intensity workouts as being a positive lifestyle approach.  My (albeit, purely empirical) observations of myself and of others totally align with this notion, and I structure my own lifestyle according to this underpinning.

The ideal, I believe, is not the alternating between two extremes (either red-line/balls-to-the-wall, or complete engine shutdown), but a fractal, long-tail distribution mix of (including, but certainly not limited to) intensity and volume.  We require a good bit of low-idle time, some active “putter about” time as well, to compliment our sporadic bouts of high intensity effort.   What exactly is the proper distribution for you – in other words, what should your “fat-tail” look like?  That’s a question only intelligent n=1 investigation and observation can answer.  However, I would suggest that this is another instance where learning to listen to your body becomes an extremely valuable commodity indeed.

Dr.  Robert Lustig tells of how the obese kids that he treats in his practice — once he manages to normalize their biochemical/hormonal milieu, as a result of proper dietary intervention — “spontaneously” become much more active.  They haven’t yet lost any appreciable weight, yet they suddenly turn from indolent to active.  The moral of the story here is that these kids aren’t obese because they are inactive, they are inactive due the biochemical/hormonal milieu that, in turn, drives their obesity.  And this is not just some fancy, verbal slight-of-hand either.  These kids are, in fact, malnourished; obese, yes – but in fact, starving for adequate nutrition.  Their biochemical/hormonal milieu is FUBAR to the point that their bodies receive the same “signal” as that of a starving man; “we’re in metabolic shutdown here, buddy – park that ass and conserve energy until the storm passes.”

So how does this relate to approximating, via n=1 experimentation, the trainee’s ratio of workout volume and intensity, and with the amount, duration and volume of low-intensity activity?  Well, it’s my belief that not only is this biochemical/hormonal “urge to activity” milieu driven in a positive way by proper nutrition, but that it’s also positively effected by present conditioning level and recuperative abilities and present-case standings (i.e., is the trainee, at this point-in-time, supercompensated, at baseline, or still wallowing around somewhere down in the ol’ “in-road” hole?).  It is also my belief that these two broad categories (present conditioning level and present recuperative standing) form a positive-feedback loop.  In other words, the better one’s conditioning and the better one’s recuperative ability/current standing, the more one is “urged” – in a biochemical and hormonal sense — to activity.  This is the “itch” that healthy, fit people have to “get out and do something”.   Could it also be that these people are simply adrenalin and/or endorphin junkies?  I have no doubt that this is part of the mix as well; if I’ve learned anything in 30+ years of navigating the Physical Culture scene it’s that very little to do with human physiology or psychology can be answered in a simple yes or no.  But then again, I suppose that all of life is this way.

Shifting gears a bit: so I’m packin’-up to leave town (here I come, Austin and Hunt, Texas!) and I’ll be away the better part of next week and rolling right on into the week following.   That said, my plan is to hit two, tough-ass, full-body workouts before I hit the road on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, a Wednesday workout prior to traveling won’t be a viable option (due to work and travel itinerary), so my plan is to hit the first of these two workouts on Sunday, with the follow-up workout to fall on Tuesday.  I’m looking to create some serious in-road with these two workouts – enough, possibly, to blunt any serious “intensity itch” for a week or so.

Here’s Sunday’s full-body blitz:

clean-grip power snatch: 95 x 5; 115 x 3; 135 x 7 singles

Then a superset of the following:

weighted dips: 45 x 6; 70 x 3(3); 80 x 3(3); 90 x 3(3) x 4 sets

clean-grip low pull (from the floor): 185 x 3; 205 x 3; 225 x 3; 250 x 3(3) x 4 sets

*the 3(3) annotation denotes a compound set.  In other words, I performed three reps, paused for approximately 5 seconds, then hit another 3 reps.  No hoo-doo magic implied, just a different flavor of the rest-pause method.

I put a premium on rep speed in the dips and low pulls.  And of course the power snatches were done explosively, though they were light enough to be not too terribly taxing.

Now I know from past experience that no matter the in-road hole that I dig for myself — and my aim is to dig a pretty deep one before I head out – that by Saturday I will be itchy as all hell to do something much more aggressive than, for example, a long, fast-paced walk.  This gets back to what I was discussing earlier – the biochemical/hormonal milieu being optimized via fitness level and health status providing an impetus to “perform”.  Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity for plenty of physical recreation, and that that will help keep me in check.  I’m notorious (Meesus TTP can testify!) for not handling “itchy” very well at all  🙂