The Metabolism Part 1: What it is and how it functions!

In this series, I’m going to talk about the key to everything, metabolism. In 2005 while at his peak as the World’s Strongest Man, I met Mariusz Pudzianowski. He was 300 pounds of pure muscle built like a Greek statue. I’m not sure what his body fat percentage was, but it had to be well under 10%. He had veins popping out everywhere, striations, and a ripped six-pack.

I asked him what diet he followed to get so lean and muscular, and he said, “Ten eggs for breakfast with three pounds of bacon, candy bars and ice cream in between meals, a pork sandwich for lunch, and as much meat and potatoes as he could get his hands on for dinner. How is this possible? How can someone eat so much food and not diet food but instead junk food be lean and muscular? The answer is metabolism. He had so much muscle mass that his metabolism was hyperactive, and he burned an extremely high number of calories. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be, and we want to build as much muscle mass as possible. Whether you are a man or woman, the key to building muscle and increasing your metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate is how many calories you burn in a day. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. It’s plain and straightforward, yet many choose cardiovascular activity only for weight loss instead of a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise.

What is a cardiovascular activity? The cardiovascular system includes the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. We breathe in oxygen through our lungs, and the heart pumps it to the muscles. Our heart supports our muscular system. Ultimately, we are doing cardio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, because our heart is constantly beating. The heart is the only muscle in the entire body that is fueled by fat. Therefore, people do the cardiovascular activity to burn fat. However, adding pounds of muscle will do much more to increase fat burning than doing extra cardiovascular exercise. 

We want to do cardiovascular activity for heart health. I recommend two cardiovascular workouts per week, each consisting of 12 minutes of interval training. You start with one minute of cardiovascular exercise, and you can jog, bike, swim, whatever you prefer. You begin with one minute at 50% intensity. The next minute you go all the way up to 100% intensity. The difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercise is your ability to sustain it. You cannot maintain anaerobic exercise for long periods. There is a failure point in our weight training where you can no longer continue like an all-out sprint. This is anaerobic and fueled by glucose in your body. Aerobic exercise instead is driven by oxygen. For the next minute, you go back down to 50% intensity. Then the next minute, you go back up to 100% intensity. Repeat this sequence every minute, switching from 50% intensity to 100% intensity for 12 minutes. If you perform your weight training workout at a maximum intensity level and a fast pace, you will do cardiovascular and anaerobic exercises. 

Don’t forget weight training! I have gotten my heart rate up to 225 beats per minute doing high rep heavy leg presses, chin-ups, squats, and deadlifts. This is the maximum heart rate you can achieve. Your heart literally will not beat any faster than this. In addition to cardio, I also recommend weight training three days per week, and once your cardiovascular and weight training days are completed taking two full rest days to stretch, rest and recover. This is the ultimate workout for your heart you can achieve, and it doesn’t need to be continued for long periods. 

What you want to focus on in your weight training workouts and your cardio workouts are intensity levels. We want to achieve 100% intensity in every workout. Your nutrition is what feeds your muscle. It’s like throwing logs on the fire into the furnace of your metabolism. You must provide the fire for it to keep burning, and you want to keep it burning hot. Stay tuned for the next post in this series on how to fuel your metabolism.

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