Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a bit of Interesting Science. Here’s something that I did not know too much about until recently. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, gardening and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT. NEAT varies substantially between people by up to a staggering 2000 kcal per day.
There is lots of really interesting science on this subject, but the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) is get off your butt, backside, whatever you want to call it, and get moving, as it appears that sitting is killing us. If you look at it, obesity was rare a century ago and it is not possible for the human genotype to have changed over that time. Therefore, the obesity epidemic may reflect the emergence of a chair-enticing environment in which we now live.
In summary, get up and move around as often as you can and increase your daily NEAT.
It doesn’t matter what exercise you are doing, use my following Top 10 Tips to get stronger, faster, leaner and ultimately see improvements in your performance.
1. Be consistent. Set a training plan that you can handle and stick to it. A friend once told me that you cannot make judgement on a training plan until you have completed it. I recently used the Time Crunched Cyclist Training Plan to prepare for 4 x back to back century rides from London to Edinburgh. I stuck with it, was consistent in my training, and as a result did pretty well (2nd overall).
2. Take recovery days seriously. The body needs time to recovery and get stronger. Chrissie Wellington, a four time World Ironman Championships, knows a thing or two about training, says “If it’s your rest day, remember your sofa is making you faster, stronger and more resilient.”
3. Increase your weekly totals gradually. 10% per month seems to be the most quoted number. Even if you feel really good, still take it gradually. You are walking a tight rope between improvement and overtraining.
4. Eat well. Good nutrition is one of my three pillars of health. Rubbish in = Rubbish out. Why waste time training if you are not going to put the right fuel in the tank?
5. Do Intervals. Train hard, race easy. Intervals are a very efficient way of getting fitter.
6. Strengthen your whole body. A strong core will always serve you well, whatever sport you do. Do Burpees as a whole body strengthening exercise. Why not have a look at my earlier post, Burpees – The Best Exercise In The World And Why I Love Them.
7. Wear the right equipment. If you run, make sure you wear the right shoes. The more you run, the more support your feet need. The right equipment makes a real difference in whatever sport you take part in.
8. Perfect your form. Become more efficient at whatever sport you do, by doing it more. It is a free marginal gain that you can get on your competition.
9. Listen to your body, but don’t let the mind trick you. You know the score, it is raining, you are tired, and that last hill rep just seems a step too far. Your mind is telling you to go home and get a shower and a cup of coffee. Ignore it, do that last rep, get stronger and in the process become Bad Ass because you are working out in the rain. My post on “Pain is good for you” links in nicely to this. One of my favourite quotes is from Emil Zatopek – the only man to win the Olympic 5,000m, 10,000m and Marathon in the same Games (send me an email if you know which Games that was). He said in his biography: “When I am feeling bad, I know that the others must be feeling worse, so I know that that is the best time to attack”. He, in my opinion, had the perfect mental approach to exercise.
10. Embrace technology. If you can afford it, buy the best and the latest technology. My top two fitness gadgets are my Garmin 810 bike computer and my Garmin 620 running watch. They are both awesome. If you want to read about them go to dcrainmaker.com – he does excellent reviews of all types of fitness gear. That said, although they provide me with plenty of data and motivation, don’t become too reliant on them. It is good to exercise without technology sometimes and there is a lot to be said for basing everything on how you feel.
Use my top 10 tips to get fitter, stronger and improve even more. Go get it!
So what is the correct number of bikes to own? If you have read my About Me page, you will know that I believe that it is impossible to own too many bikes. I also stated that there is one caveat to this rule, which I am going to talk about soon.
So by now you will have probably ascertained that I love bikes. I own about 7. I use the phrase “about 7” to keep it intentionally vague, just in case my partner should ever read this post! And anyway, one bike for each day of the week is not too extreme in my view!
According to Rule 12 of the Velominati, and I agree, the correct number of bikes to own is n + 1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. And like I said before, there is a caveat, or a possibility to rewrite the equation as follows: s – 1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
How about this from a caffeine addict…….when you are feeling sluggish and in need of a caffeine boost, STOP, and do the following instead:
Whilst sitting comfortably, close off your left nostril with you left thumb. Inhale and exhale through your right nostril for 3 to 5 minutes. Sounds strange, huh? Research has shown that right nostril breathing can elevate blood pressure, which gives us a natural invigoration boost, similar to that of a shot of caffeine!
On the flip side, doing left nostril breathing lowers blood pressure and can produce a calming effect.
I’ve just been reading about pain, and whether it is good for you as an endurance athlete. We are talking about the relentless burn of sustained effort, that lactic acid surging through your muscles rather than the sudden shock of a break or torn ligament.
It turns out that many endurance athletes need the feedback of pain to enable proper pacing, and this was revealed during a study of cyclists. The scientists used spinal injections (sounds grim) of a powerful painkiller to block lower body pain in a group of cyclists. And the cyclists got slower! Initially they felt great, starting out faster than normal (how not to have a good day in the saddle), but then faded. It appears that without the feedback of pain, they couldn’t pace themselves properly.
So my conclusion is to embrace pain, treat it as a friend (within reason) and bang out that extra repetition, even if the head is telling you to stop. I certainly got that impression when reading Chrissie Wellington’s book, A Life Without Limits, where pain, at times seems like a central reality of her existence. What a legend and inspiration she is. I think that she probably has a greater pain tolerance than the general population. In reality, the brain will tell you to stop way in advance of when your body really has to, and those that can convince the brain to continue longer, reap the benefit of better performance. And most importantly, you can raise this pain threshold level by training. Sounds like a good reason to get out there and go hard.