Here are today’s nuggets of ‘Wednesday Wisdom’ to help you train smart and live well.
Nasal-only Breathing during HIIT training
For several months, I've been practicing nasal-only breathing during my low intensity cardio sessions (both LISS and Anti-HIIT). It’s now comfortable for me to maintain a 130-140 bpm heart rate for 45 minutes breathing entirely through my nose and my performance is so much better as a result.
Since gyms reopened, I’ve been experimenting with nasal-only breathing for interval cardio also. The session I’ve been practicing with is 5 x 5 minutes on the ski erg (the one posted in last week’s newsletter).
The first session was pretty uncomfortable and I had to open my mouth during the last 3 rounds, but 4 weeks later, I was able to complete all 5 rounds breathing exclusively through my nose, even though the last 5 minute round had my heart rate at 165-170 bpm! See the below screenshot from my Polar Beat App:
To be able to adapt this fast was a pleasant surprise. I’ve performed this kind of session countless times in the past, but breathing this way has already improved my performance (in terms of average power output and recovery time between rounds).
Whether or not this method of breathing is also better for a pure HIIT session remains to be seen. My guess is that it’s best suited for the rest intervals to recover faster, but inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth might be superior when really hammering the intensity. Stay tuned!
Reader Question: I have small calves. What should I do?
Firstly, I feel you! Not only do I have the worst genetics in that department, but I also have a structural limitation in my ankles - meaning my calves often feel tight and my ankle mobility is limited.
All those excuses aside, I have had some success growing my calves in recent years. So here are 5 quick tips based on what I’ve learned:
- Your calves need a lot of volume. Train them frequently. I personally train calves 4 times a week.
- Train your calves FIRST in your workouts. That way, you’ll have the energy to put enough effort into your sets. The beauty in doing this is that it does not interfere with your workout...and you’ll walk around with a glorious pump!
- Hit them heavy and hit them light. I like single and double leg bodyweight calf raises for high reps and weighted calf raises for low reps.
- Go slow. You need to remove the stretch reflex from the equation so your muscles produce all the force. Try pausing in the stretch for 1 second and pausing at the peak contraction for 1 second.
- Do cycling for your cardio. My calves (and legs in general) have seen great progress since this became a staple part of my training routine.
Want to lose or gain weight? Here’s a simple way to start.
Weight loss and weight gain are often made out to be wildly complicated. So much so that it’s off-putting because you simply don’t know where to start.
Here’s a simple strategy to get you moving in the right direction: Adjust the quantity of your meals.
Trying to gain weight?
Double up on your carb and/or protein portions: 2 potatoes instead of one. 2 salmon fillets instead of one.
Trying to lose weight?
Halve or remove carbs from your meal. You could even replace them with extra veggies which are way lower in calories and will still leave you feeling full.
However you choose to adjust your meals is up to you. Start with a small adjustment that you feel 100% confident you can maintain. Those fewer or extra calories will add up significantly over the course of a week.
Remember that weight loss and weight gain is just a game of energy balance:
If you expend more energy than you take in, you will lose weight.
If you expend less energy than you take in, you will gain weight.
Adjusting the quantity of your meals is an easy strategy to implement and very effective if adhered to for long enough to see the results.
Thanks again for reading this week.
Until next Wednesday!