ATC 329: Surprise Guest Joins, Plus: MAF vs. HIIT For Health-Based Fitness, Side Sports While Endurance Training, and More
July 2, 2021
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On this special episode of Ask the Coaches, Tawnee and Lucho are joined by former EP editor and co-host, Brock Armstrong. Brock shares about his new podcast and wellness program, and helps the crew answer this week’s questions.
The crew also chats about mental health and motivation, asking Lucho some questions about his recent return to Ironman training and working on his mindset.
For more information on Brock & his services offered:
Book mention: How To Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera
From a health perspective: MAF or HIIT?
Hi guys, I am at a crossroads and think this question is fitting for your show. I realized over the past year of not racing triathlon that I don’t miss it so I’m going to take my fitness a different direction. I am open minded to what this will look like. I am 39, and the type of person who always likes to have a fitness routine and goals to work toward, but it doesn’t have to be anything insane. Background: high school sports, then about a decade of endurance training (running, triathlon, some bike races) and strength training mostly supplementary to the endurance but as a female also found this good for bone health and hormonal balance, etc.
Lately I am considering an even deeper dive into more health-based fitness goals. (I think Tawnee has mentioned something similar in her own journey recently.) So I wanted to hear your take on which is superior for overall health and longevity: a low-volume program that incorporates strength, some HIIT and some shorter runs only (like 3miles) OR a more moderate volume MAF running program(like 20-30minles a week?)+ a little bit of strength training worked in. It seems like those who are in each camp claim their way is superior, so it’s hard to weed through opinions over facts…. if there are even any facts on this? Maybe it depends 😉
What the coaches say:
- Not an either or; do both!
- Not too much, not too little!
- Listen to your body! (Not about “no pain no gain”)
- Prioritize rest! (Focus on sleep and recovery)
- Nutrition can’t be ignored!
- MAF: Good for fat burning, increase mitochondria density and function, and metabolic health.
- Chronic endurance is a “slow burn” to health issues.
- HIIT: can improve glucose and fat oxidation, body comp, good “bang for your buck.” It doesn’t have to be as much as you think. Something like 5 x 30” sprints on 4’ rest.
- HIIT overtraining = more quickly see problems when doing too much, e.g. cortisol dysregulation, HPA axis issues.
- Phi Maffetone says: “Adaptation to oxidative stress improves health and fitness because it helps activate our natural internal antioxidant mechanism, an important part of our immune system. To encourage the body to better regulate this stress, we require good aerobic function and consumption of healthy foods. Too much or too little exercise, or eating junk food, reduces our ability to adapt to oxidative stress with dire consequences.”
- Exercise stimulates oxidative stress > increases antioxidant/immune activity > speeds recovery > improves wellness. Key – not too much, not too little.
- Primal Blueprint crew says: “Former endurance junkies;” from them we can learn how much endurance can mess you up and what a possible solution is for the motivated, fit-minded athlete/person:
- Tons of *slow* movement- but not in a training/tempo kind of way, more like just “slow aerobic” like even sub MAF.
- Lifting heavy
- Sprinting- but again not overdoing it (eg 60min HIIT classes 7 days a week is too much)
- Sleep! Before we even think of training style, we have to meet your rest needs first and foremost. If you’re constantly tired from lack of sleep and rest, no training plan will optimize your health (expect that perhaps training may help you sleep better- assuming not overtraining).
- Be outside/get sunlight
- Overall, high intensity showed to be more effective in improving cardiovascular health and cardiorespiratory fitness, whereas moderate intensity was superior in improving long-term glucose metabolism. In the process of personalized training counseling, health-enhancing effects of exercise training may be improved by considering the individual risk profiles.
- If already coming to the table fit from years of training and conditioning, something like HIIT may have negligible *new* health benefits according to this 2017 article:
- HIIT with preconditioning exercise training diminished any age associated difference in IGF-I between sedentary and master’s athletes, but induced small improvements in fat-free mass in both groups. If starting a new program from sedentary, HIIT can boost IGF-1
- Coaches give some training examples from their own lives; Tawnee outlines a week of her health-based fitness approach.
Paul Q. asks:
Dadathon or the fallacy of middle aged fitness
I’m a big fan of the show especially ATC but just love listening and hearing of your adventures.
I thought of the term dadathon when i was out running one day, as in the idea of doing something just once just to prove it can be done as opposed to a long term investment.
Anyway I digress, heres my question—
I am 49 year old male.
Ran two marathons in 2019, finishing 4.10 and 3.59 (!).
I am about to start training for another in Oct the day before I turn 50.
I am following the “Runners World break 3.30 Program”
Previously my training has been pretty much 2 short and 1 longer run a week
and honestly i had no real clue about pacing, speedwork, etc. although I
did run a 47 minute 10 k during that training period.
My problem is that i play 5 a side soccer intensely for an hour twice a week
which i really love and i am wondering how or if even if I can incorporate
this into my training or should I just stop playing for the 16 weeks ?
I also do a couple of light strength/conditioning classes twice a week
which i will try to align to my “rest” days, but will I probably end up
with a lot of double days, i.e. soccer and running
is all this feasible at my age ?
Help me coaches!! Thanks and keep up the great work!
What the coaches say:
- No reason to give up soccer—your enjoyment matters.
- Focus on rest and don’t neglect recovery days or try to load up recovery days with other non-running things.
- Adjust a preset training plan to your personal needs.
- Don’t focus on the outcome (eg end result or 3:30 finish time) focus on the process and see where that’ll get you!