How Much High Intensity Exercise is Too Much?

high intensity exercise primer

Are you doing too much high intensity exercise? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been the holy grail of fitness trends for the past several years. Is it the Holy Grail for YOU? Here’s what a recent study says and how to interpret that if you’re a woman flipping (or wanting to) her second half with flare.

Exercise is stress. High intensity exercise is greater stress. Stress causes cortisol.

Cortisol plays two roles in our lives. It’s both the stress hormone and the energy hormone. The perfect amount of stress makes you feel alive and thrive. Too little or too much cortisol each causes problems.

When you’re exercising with the right amount of “overload” or stress you create a positive, not negative, stress response. That’s not to say (because I hear you saying that’s how you negate stress) that exercise doesn’t relieve stress. It can. But we sometimes don’t give ourselves the right dose, frequency or intensity to optimally relieve stress without having it come back to bite us you-know-where.

Better Stress

The key is to find your personal optimal exercise. I’m an advocate for the right exercise for you right now. Women in midlife are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress as they go through other major hormone changes. What worked once – even as recently as months ago or last week – may not be your ideal exercise this week.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to suffer, gain weight, get moody or any of the above. If you adjust your exercise according to what’s going on, respond to it even if you can’t predict what changes will be, you’ll sail through those years from peri-menopause to beyond menopause better. That sets you up for a full Flipping 50 (49-99) feeling as young as your habits will allow you. It’s habits that determine how your genetics express or suppress (epigenetics).

What’s the best exercise?  The answer is not the same for you and for every other woman over 50. We’ve got common denominators but your details are unique to you. If you’re deconditioned, conditioned, or an athlete it changes your exercise prescription. If you’re in adrenal fatigue, you’re estrogen dominant, or have low testosterone will change what I suggest you do. If you have osteoporosis, are trying to prevent it, or you have 20 or more pounds to lose, each of these (and more) will change the exercise plan that’s best for you.

A recent study of weight training performed as high intensity interval training (HIIT) was created to determine if HIIT weight training was better than traditional weight training. Researchers asked, is heavy weight training better than the moderate-to-light weight training recommended for decades?

A side note here: the fear of “bulk” from strength training is legit. The three sets of 10-to-12 repetitions taught for decades, as some kind of gold standard actually IS a bulk-building protocol. Ten or fewer repetitions is the optimal strength, bone building, and fat reducing/lean increasing protocol while higher repetition ranges are best for performance enhancement and influencing smaller muscle activation.

Your personal exercise protocol is also influenced by whether you’re a mesomorph, endomorph, or ectomorph. Each body type can respond differently to a protocol.

ACE Research

According to the study performed by the American Council on Exercise, a leading authority in fitness, moderate or average exercise should occur between 70 to 80 percent heart rate intensity, HIIT training requires at least 85 percent heart rate intensity, the study says. Les Mills’ researchers (creators of Body Pump) wanted to determine how to best achieve a healthy balance between one’s HIIT volume (minutes of HIIT per week) and one’s positive stress response. Their hypothesis was that more than 30 or 40 minutes of weekly HIIT volume would prompt a reduced positive stress response.

“A positive stress response to exercise is a critical part of creating the bio-chemical changes in the body that help build new muscle and improve fitness,” the study says. “The stress response can be measured effectively by examining cortisol and testosterone concentrations in saliva.”

Not to repeat myself but as mentioned earlier, this is really what we refer to as the principle of overload in fitness. The stimulus of exercise must be adequate to provide overload such that the body responds after (when between sessions fitness occurs IF you have adequate rest, food, and sleep).

Remember Your Hormones

It’s key for YOU to remember, Flipping 50 friend, that you have another thing to consider. The status of your hormones, not just of your mind’s desire to lose fat, or get in shape needs to be considered when designing your exercise program. Pushing through … following lame social media memes suggesting that “sweat is fat crying” can backfire on you and increase fat storage when stress goes the wrong way. When you read “move more” interpret it as walking down the hall to deliver a message as opposed to going to boot camp 6 days a week or doing two-a-days.

Let me take a step back here and describe what it feels like to lift at a level defined as HIIT. There’s a lot of confusion about HIIT. Anything that gets you breathing slightly harder is NOT HIIT. Lifting with a weight that causes fatigue at 10 repetitions correlates with 80% intensity. So in order to lift and a HIIT level of 90% as per the study, you’d be lifting a weight closer to 5 repetitions.

Don’t panic. You definitely progress to this point. You also can reduce the weight slightly and use power, increasing speed on the lift but always controlling the lowering (eccentric) phase of exercise to achieve this overload without a heavy weight. You do this in daily life… the wind grabs the car door, the door to a store is heavy, or you heft the garbage bag out to the curb… so if you’re worried about injury (valid) do consider whether your daily activity warrants the work so you’re prepared.

Fatigue vs Tired

Moving fast to get breathless is not necessarily overloading the muscles in a way that muscle changes and creates lean muscle tissue that assists in fat burning.

THIS is a key distinction most program creators and attendees fail to make. Going to a boot camp where you’re moving fast from a strength exercise to a cardio exercise to a core exercise will likely tire you. Tired is not muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue must be reached so your body changes.

Will it burn calories right now? Yes. Will it change your body, your body composition, and set you up for years of a stronger leaner body? No.

The study used strength training as the mode of high intensity exercise.Researchers compared one set of 5 repetitions for each of 10 exercises to 1 or 2 sets of 10 repetitions for 10-12 exercises. The subjects were both male and female and ages up to 59.

The results showed body fat decreased significantly for both groups. Blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased only for the HIIT group.

“When it comes to HIIT, adding volume doesn’t deliver better results,” the report says.

“It actually hinders. To get the full benefits of HIIT and prevent overreaching, our recommendation is to…

Do a maximum weekly HIIT sessions that are above 90 percent maximum heart rate for 30-40 minutes…

…and balance them with other less demanding workouts.”

“It’s also imperative that you let your body recover properly after a HIIT session. This way, you’re likely to perform better when you do your HIIT workouts and benefit from the positive results,” researchers added.

The key exercise flips:

  1. More is not better when it comes to High Intensity exercise
  2. An understanding of what constitutes high intensity interval training is key if you’re to reap benefits
  3. The more health markers (blood pressure and cholesterol) you’re trying to target with your exercise, the more HIIT could benefit you done with adequate progression
  4. A low volume of HIIT (no more than 40 minutes a week) is far better for results (and reduction of injury) than more volume (frequency, or duration)
  5. If you’re doing high intensity exercise that is also high impact cardio or high intensity strength training every day you may be inhibiting your recovery and results.

This distinction of when to work hard and when to recovery is so important. It’s not intuitive for a generation that witnessed the work harder, get better results discipline of our parents.

This is sure to bring questions! It may also bring breakthroughs in your fitness. Add your comments below! I love to hear from you.

high intensity exercise

exercise slows your aging processWe grey. We wrinkle. We gain weight and lose strength. We die. But do we have to gain weight and lose strength? And can we not just increase longevity but increase the quality of the longer life? There’s plenty of emerging evidence that the right exercise slows your aging process. From bones, to muscles, and it begins with the expression of your genes. In this post I’ll share several study results that suggest your genes don’t have to determine your jeans.

You are in control.

Even a moderate amount of exercise changes the way your DNA methylation occurs. If you’re unfamiliar, that means you have far more optimal health and reduced risk of disease. OK, so that’s long term. What happens short term? We’re into immediate gratification, right? How much better does your butt look in those jeans?

Plenty. (In case no one mentioned it yet today, you still got it girl!)

Early studies featured healthy young men. You know as I mention regularly, you need to ask, “so what, I’m not 20 and not a young man?” What about me?? Well, I’m glad you asked. Follow up studies featuring older adults show several things happen with the right dose of exercise:

Mitochondria production is renewed. These are your powerhouses of energy. It was until fairly recently accepted that deterioration and decline of mitochondria was a natural part of the aging process. As I shared in a recent presentation, there’s more to that statement. First, it’s not a natural part of the aging process. It only happens if you don’t do anything to prevent it from happening. You don’t lose muscle and cause sarcopenia (significant loss of muscle that can occur with age) unless you let yourself lose muscle and get sarcopenia by avoiding exercise and having inadequate caloric intake, including specific amounts of protein at the right time.

Which kind of exercise helps most? Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, that is, both the type that gets you breathing heavy and resistance training should be a part of your exercise program. I’ve added examples of interval training exercise toward the bottom of this post.

Regular exercise reduces oxidative stress-related disease. Exercise is stress, just to be clear. However, performing a progressive exercise program that includes both adequate stimulation and adequate recovery (nutrition and time between exercise) increases your overall resilience. Inflammatory markers are reduced in regular exercisers.

You can reset your circadian clock. There’s a positive association between physical activity and genes that affect your circadian clock. If you’re not sleeping well such that you’re too tired to exercise, don’t wait for a good night’s sleep to start. Start the exercise to improve the sleep.

Do change your exercise after a poor night’s sleep. Instead of your high intensity intervals try a short and lower intensity session, outdoors, if possible. Instead of high-load strength training, substitute yoga (not something that challenges balance) or stretching. You will elevate your core temperature with exercise, and increase melatonin production with exposure to sunlight. Both play a part in resetting your clock and increase the likelihood you’ll sleep better the next night.

exercise slows your aging processBoost youthful muscle tissue. Studies show there’s an altered gene expression after acute exercise in both young and older adults after high-load resistance exercise. Older adults in fact respond even better as you’ll read in the next paragraph. The combination of adequate energy, protein, and resistance training increases immune function and repair in skeletal muscle.

Reverse cellular damage that has occurred from aging. Getting breathless with interval training changed the activity level in 274 genes of younger subjects. In older adults almost 400 genes were improved. There were positive changes from moderate exercise and from weight training as well but the interval training wins by a landslide in the change in gene expression.

That means moderate exercise is still your foundation. Don’t go dumping it completely. You build fitness on a foundation. Establish the following habits so that exercise slows your aging process without causing injury:

Assess how well your exercise slows your aging process

Are you performing strength training to fatigue twice a week? This is not about time. It’s a matter of quality. Reaching fatigue doing three exercises is better than stimulating 8-10 exercises with light or moderate weight training. The change in cellular activity of the muscles has to be great enough to influence gene expression. It’s relative to you. What’s light is something you can lift up to 28 times, what’s moderate you could lift 15-ish times, and what’s heavy you can lift 10 or fewer times. Exercise slows your aging process most if you pay attention to quality.

Are you performing interval training 1-2 times a week?

This is a matter of less time and higher intensity. Interval lengths of 20 seconds to two minutes will reap the greatest rewards provided they occur such that you need (and allow) recovery between them. Below are three sample Interval Training workouts.

Hard Interval                 Recovery Interval*           Repeats

0:30                                        1:00- 1:30                              8x

1:00                                        1:00- 2:00                              5x

2:00                                        3:00- 4:00                              4x

An interval is an all out effort. Just doing two different intensities isn’t enough. Your work interval has to be high enough intensity exercise for changes to occur. You should earn your recovery. *Recovery range means if you need longer take it! Don’t reduce it. Naturally, the longer the interval the lower the relative intensity will be. Your speed for instance would be reduced in order to run for two minutes compared to an all-out sprint for 30 seconds. [Substitute any mode of “sprint” for running including biking, elliptical, swimming, etc.] exercise slows your aging process

FAQs about Exercise

Q: What about walking?

A: It’s the most often recommended exercise by doctors and physical activity guidelines. In recent studies supporting the  fact exercise slows your aging process, beyond longevity, walking isn’t a feature. It’s a wonderful foundation. You can use it for intervals mixing in speed and hills or you can use walking for those moderate days. It definitely has a place but daily walks at the same pace same distance won’t improve your fitness and have yet to be associated with changed gene expression.

Q: What about the total amount of steps per day?

A: Your total number of daily steps is a good measure of your Non Exercise Activity Time, or N.E.A.T. It’s definitely associated more closely with obesity and overweight than is a formal “workout” of 30 to 60 minutes. That single hour will never overcome 23 hours of inactivity. So use it, but let that be a part of your whole program. Keep in mind there’s living longer, and living better during those years. Seek intervals and heavy weight training with a scientific connection to how exercise slows your aging process. 

Q: What about the total amount of minutes of exercise per week?

A: The sliding scale recommending 150 minutes of activity a week or 75 of more vigorous activity don’t fully cover the type of exercise that changes gene expression. These are a good and basic beginning. These are foundational exercise goals. It’s more than a total of time; it’s a specific type and intensity of that exercise that is proving to turn back your clock. Exercise at a foundation level to decrease risk of disease and improve measures of health. Further improve your measures of health with higher intensity exercise.

Dial in if you truly want to live longer feeling younger.

Q: What if you like to do more exercise?

A: Two studies in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) compared doing the minimum recommended 150 minutes with doing more. Subjects in one study who did 3x the minimum, that is 450 minutes per week, mostly walking, gained significantly more longevity. That’s where benefits plateaued, but for those exercise lovers who did 10x the recommended 150 per week, there was no increased risk. In other words, more exercise slows your aging process only up to a point and then it won’t harm you. As a reminder however, listen to your signs and symptoms right now.

If you’re a female at midlife (subjects were both men and women ages 21-98) going through stress or changes, dialing exercise right now may not be the right time. Know that if “more” is your happy place, it can work! If you feel your best there, love your energy and life, you aren’t getting “more” benefits, but you are not putting yourself at risk or reducing benefits either.

The second JAMA study that looked at moderate to vigorous activity in middle-aged and older adults showed that those who engaged in higher intensity exercise about 30% of their weekly exercise time had reduced mortality. That’s about right where 1-2 short interval training sessions, and 10 or 20 minutes of weight training twice a week fit into your week of moderate and lower level activity.


Flipping 50Want SUPPORT for your stronger, older, lifestyle? Everything you need for exercise, mindset, and exercise nutrition after 50. It’s different, but it works. It’s never too late. This is how exercise slows your aging process. At home exercise after 50

20-Minute Fitness, Really?

Reality is that it isn’t just the holidays that we need this. Life is going at mock speed sometimes. The good news is, done right, 20-minute fitness routines can not only be enough, they can be perfect for hormone balance.

You’re stuck at the in-laws without a gym in site or space to exercise. Maybe you get lucky and there’s a treadmill or elliptical in the basement. Still, you’ve got no time before you’re recruited for shopping, sledding, and decking-the-halls. Here’s how to fit in a quick interval training workout. Then remind yourself that shopping, cooking, and snowman building all count! Haul the small kids back up hill on their sleds, pull them around the neighborhood, or find a local place to rent snow shoes.


Always warm up no matter how little time you have. Here’s your motivation:

Do each for 45 seconds, moving your arms in as you do!

(Got a treadmill, or elliptical? Just plug in one of my interval training workouts! Sharing with Flipping 50 subscribers Friday, Dec 8! Sign up!)

At your five-minute mark begin your intervals:

Do one minute of a more intense exercise.

If you can jump, pretend you’re jumping rope or do jumping jacks, (personally I hate burpees and the risk to lower back and knees they bring: done fast they tend to be done wrong).

If jumps are out try rear lunges, squats in place making it feel like a small jump but not even leaving the ground.

If your knees won’t allow anything mentioned yet, try knee lifts in place and press your arms to the sky while you do them. You want to be breathless.

Then take one minute to “recover” but do keep moving.

Side step, march in place, and allow your breathing to slow.

Repeat a total of 5 or 6 times for a total of 10 or 12 minutes.

Cool down by moving a little slower.

20-minute fitness stretches

The #4 stretch on the floor.

This is a good time to add some rotation. All that tree decorating, light hanging, or Twister on the floor can pull something if you’re not warming it up! Place one foot up and rotate your upper body. Repeat on the other side.

Finish your last two minutes with some hip stretching (pigeon if you do yoga, or a seated or standing hip #4 stretch, a downward dog (a great shoulder-opener and low back – hamstring stretch). Whatever you do… don’t skip the cool down just because it’s a 20-minute fitness routine. Make it a part of the deal. You’ll get more out of your next workout if you stretch after this one.

See other 20-minute fitness options on video. 

20-minute fitness post exercise smoothie

smoothie bowl


Protein is your best defense against cravings and temptation. Combine it with fiber for a one-two punch. Women often ask me what I do when I crave sugar. I may blankly stare back. I honestly don’t crave sugar if I put protein, fiber, and fat in each meal. Skimping on carbohydrates (the right kind) can also get you into big craving trouble. For a 20-minute fitness routine the morning after a big rich meal, you may want to do it fasted. But be sure you fuel after about 60 minutes for sparing muscle losses and so that you wait out the blunting effect for protein synthesis that exists for about an hour after exercise.

You need carbs especially if you have a little anxiety (in laws, gift lists, end-of-year deadlines anyone?). Carbs help soothe. If you’re not sleeping well on some foreign mattress your cravings can increase. Be sure to include some high quality carbs at breakfast and lunch so that when the afternoon comes and someone is decorating Christmas cookies you don’t cave.


Your shoes are your foundation. Don’t skimp on them. Choose according to your foot not to your color or a brand. Every brand has a shoe model for every foot. You just want the ideal marriage between your flat foot, high arch, or neutral foot and the activity you’re going to be doing. Support the girls with a good bra. If you still have a bra from 1990, its time to upgrade and uplift. I love @skirtsports for running-worthy bras. When you’re doing 20-minute fitness routines, you’re likely to need more support for the girls. Don’t skip this.

Last, if you feel jiggly (apparently spellcheck doesn’t recognize that as a word!) it’s not very motivating. The right tights can help you feel fit already. We know that wearing active wear (if it’s a good fit) makes us more likely to be active, think active, and that’s a good thing. Yoga pants for everyone!

@lululemon has some booty lifting thigh tightening bottoms if you need a hug

@prana for the mat and lower body love especially for yoga followed by errands

@athletica for the top (I have this one in so many colors)

@asics for the kayanos I love to run and wear anywhere


Want support? If you wish someone would tell you exactly what to eat, what exercise to do, and how it’s going to help so you’re motivated to do it, I can help.

First, though, know that no one should tell you exactly what to eat. Your body chemistry and gut are unique. Based on your history of foods you’ve consumed, your stress, hormones, and metabolism right now, what you need to thrive will be different.

What I can do is show you how to identify what’s making you unable to lose weight, or feel bloated and why you don’t have energy consistently through the day (including morning and mid-afternoon or early evening when you’re finally not busy and may crash).

Here’s the thing.. you can go to a doctor and take a lab test. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m a big believer that your body has wisdom of it’s own that we each need to consider and if you let it, it can lead you to the right next steps.

How you move, what you eat, and how you go about your daily habits all matter. It’s type and timing that are so important – more than just the addition of those habits at the end of the day.

I give you a blueprint for identifying your best energy. We co-collaborate. I give you the science and the coaching for your mindset (changing what we’ve been taught and thought for 30+ years is a challenge!) and you have the body wisdom and results that help us adjust and progress.

Click here to learn more about the 28-Day-Kickstart. 

Or, if private coaching at your convenience and focused on you with custom exercise, nutrition, and adjustments based on your busy life is more appealing to you, read this and then apply. I have a limited number of spots and rates change Jan 1, 2018. Now is the time to jump in.


I’m pulling back the curtains, and the covers literally, in this episode. From pajamas to pajamas, here’s the little things I do..AND some updates in the blog post below. We all upgrade occasionally! I polish off habits too!

Watch this episode for the habits I use for all day energy.

Wake naturally.

If I’m not waking naturally at the right time, I know I’m not getting to bed early enough. Even though I wake naturally sometime around 5am when I have to make an earlier wake up call, getting to bed earlier ensures I get my quota of 8+ hours. You’ve got yours …when you’re waking naturally and rested you’ve nailed it.

Drink water with lemon.

Coffee with coconut cream. Recently I’ve been adding ghee and Bulletproof Octane. I am loving it for a start to my morning. I alternate between these selections. 

I grind my coffee beans myself and do the European pour-over method then add a bit of chocolate stevia with my cream or ghee.

I surround myself with my “why” reminders.

The “CRY whys” are the ticket. When it brings you to tears, you got it!

Breakfast I: a pre-ex snack

1/2 banana or Brown rice cake and Sun nut butter usually. I might do half a simple smoothie (leaving out fiber and fat until after exercise). This should depend on your goals.

Take daily micronutrients: 

Nutreince Multivitamin, Omega 3 with D, Magnesium Citrate (this one I take at night). If you’re reading my other blog you’ll know I’m also supplementing for hormone balance right now and there are a lot more bottles on the counter!

I go through periods where I need a probiotic (after stress or illness), and I’m diligent with a digestive enzyme, to get on track after a gut disturbance, too.


Music to Flip Fifty By: My Playlist

Quick Travel Intervals Training or a Desk-Bound Day:

  1. Boxing – Total body
  2. Wall sit-Lower body
  3. Push-up-Upper body
  4. Abdominal Reverse Roll Up Core
  5. Step-up onto chair -Total body
  6. Squat -Lower body
  7. Plank and lift leg in a chair
  8. Side Lunges

Skincare (outside in routine) 

I love these Annmarie Skincare products. Living in the midwest for 49 years then shifting to altitude and living at 8800 ft. these products soothed my skin when nothing would! I use anti-aging eye cream and serum, plus a brightener daily. Then I use a gentle fascial scrub 1 or 1 times a week plus an occasional mud-like mask. I love, love, love the honey mask. You will too! Try it!

Breakfast II: High Protein breakfast

60 Minutes after exercise (when my body can actually use the protein to benefit muscles – before that there’s a blunting effect you want to be aware of!) in the Nutribullet (Got one? Get one $20 off)


Green Smoothie (Skin care inside out!)

chocolate protein shake for flipping 50

A little secret… this is also a craving killer. Any smoothie can be, but my Thin Mint Smoothie ingredients are the perfect combination of chocolate, fiber, and greens. UPDATE! Sadly, since this post our Mint Greens product is discontinued. But I’ve got the very last box at the home office (gotta keep the staff focused and happy!) so if you contact me there’s a chance that if you love a Girl Scout Thin Mint and just have to have Mint Greens, I may have one to send you!

That little trilogy knocks out both physiological and psychological cravings. And yes, it tastes like the Thin Mint cookie you remember. Adequate protein and fiber daily, is a must if you want to get or stay lean, but also a wise choice snacks. If the urge hits you and you’ve got chocolate protein to make a light creamy mousse-like chocolate shake either with nut butter or mint… poof! Craving gone and you’ve satisfied your desire for it without sabotaging yourself.

Cook once, Eat all week (28 Day Kickstart recipes)

Clothes I feel good in are a must !

No waiting until you… Dress for success.

Epsom salt bath


I definitely do tub time more winter than summer but it’s a year-round go-to for relaxing. It guarantees me a good-night’s sleep. I’ll use a few drops of lavender essential oil in the bath.


Essential oils in a diffuser (lavender for sleep) on my nightstand

This serves as quiet “white noise” that helps block out any night noises in addition to the moist air.

Computer OFF by 6pm

When I stick with this, I sleep better. If you’re addicted to the little silver box or your phone with you until bedtime, try it!

TV off by 8pm

I turn into a pumpkin early. I love to get up early. In order to pay attention to when I’m really tired (not when a show is over or “it’s time”) I turn screens off.

Bedtime when I’m sleepy

There’s no time too early for me. I don’t decide by whether the news has been on or not or the movie is over, or others are up. If I’m tired I’ll go to bed. Simple. To be at 100% during the day I need 100% of sleep at night.

My favorite PJ Salvage pajamas, soft sheets (life’s too short not to do 400ct)

It’s important to love where you sleep and have it dedicated to sleep. I don’t watch TV there, or work there, I don’t have a desk there. Just sleep (or you know…) or a little reading or writing right before or after sleep.

A good book…. Not a great one…

It can take me MONTHS to get through books. Because it’s simply a cue for me. A few pages and boom, I’m ready.

A worry journal so I dump anything on my to-do list for the night.

There’s always that last minute thing that comes into mind once you’re in bed. Will I remember to do that tomorrow? So I write it down on the journal there for that purpose and I can relax!

Key Flip of the Day:

This is the last episode of season II! I’d love to hear from you. Have these episodes been helpful? What stands out as a favorite?

We’re planning Season III. I would love to hear from you about what you want more help with. Send me your question to because we’re actively approving our 13 episodes now!  Leave your comment here too!

It would mean so much if you shared this with a friend!

Reviewing a variety of interval training protocols (and yes, I share two with you here) to use for a new Flipping 50 Fit U program [designed for women who have more than 20 pounds to lose, and between 50 and 100 pounds is the sweet spot] I’ve been reminded of interesting phenomenon that continues to be buried in programming and marketing of fitness programs.

  1. There is more than one way to expend the same amount of energy in an exercise session.
  2. The choice of how to expend that energy impacts the outcome of the program.
  3. The choice of protocols dramatically impacts both risk of injury and drop out rate.

I invite you to examine these two interval training protocols:

If you do the math (as I do as a conditioning coach) on volume of work the two protocols are identical. During each session you would be doing 16 minutes of high intensity exercise.

In a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published study comparing the two protocols, the energy expenditure had to be the same, so researchers had subjects do the 1-minute intervals at 94% of their max and the 4 minute intervals at 90% of their max.

To give you some relativity… you’re most likely to choose a level at about 60% to do steady state exercise. You’re intervals during a class or session might reach 85% if you can still talk through your breathlessness. In other words, 94% gets out of your comfort zone.

swimmingMost Effective Interval Training Protocol

If I asked you to guess –before reading further – which of these two protocols was most effective for increasing fat burning and energy expenditure… what would you say?

Actually, both are equally effective in boosting metabolism, fitness level, and perceived as fairly similar in intensity. Specifically, the longer intervals at 90% were more comfortable for subjects than 1-minute intervals at 94%. So while you might be thinking let’s get these things over with and do 1-minute bouts, because they’re so high intensity, you may prefer the 4-minute bout if you were held under heart rate conditions and your intensity were actually measured.

Should You Recover Between Intervals?

Short recovery between work intervals prevents complete glycogen restoration which is a part of the theory behind intervals. Depleting glycogen then supports the pathway that makes exercise more exhausting and thus increases fat burning afterward to restore. In a sense, you dig a deeper hole, it takes longer to fill it back up.

The high intensity of shorter intervals required to provide such post-exercise recovery makes exercise extremely uncomfortable. So much that before you might see results you would quit or be injured.

If you have over 20 pounds to lose, exercise itself, let alone high intensity exercise, is tricky to maneuver. Any trainer can tell you that you should be doing high intensity intervals but the 50% dropout rate still true of new exercisers suggests that self-selected exercise intensity especially if you’re more overweight, is a better way to stick to it. If you apply a specific intensity to your intervals as indicated by someone else vs. you self-select, the chance you’ll drop out rate is far greater.

A prime example of high intensity interval training is the popular Tabata intervals. Exercising hard for 20 seconds to recover for 10 seconds before repeating a total of 8 times in four minutes prevents real recovery. The research done on Tabata was done with elite cyclists (whose backsides are about as wide as a 2 x 4 and who spend hours cycling regularly up steep climbs). Few of us mere mortals choose to work that hard, or even are willing to when told this is the direct path to increased fat burning metabolism boosting.

Faulty Form, Faulty Results

By the time an exerciser – you or me – is at the 6th, 7th, or 8th repetition of the intervals – often doing exercise such as a “burpee” which requires zero creativity and prevents form and technique cueing – they have often lost good form. To pick on the burpee specifically, jumping to weight bearing on shoulders in a push up position, with head down to heart level then returning upright with a jump all the while under a zealous trainer’s coaching to go as fast as possible is an injury waiting to happen.

We’ve gone full circle. From large group exercise in the 80s to personal training in the 90s meant to get more specific and direct answers to clients’ questions, back to big boot camps and group training that focus on fast movements and Workout Of the Day (WOD), or posts to social media that list a series of exercises that you should do without every asking what your goals and status are and that suppose every one of us is the same.

History Repeating Itself with Interval Training

Twenty-five years ago research was looking at the use of arms during aerobic dance exercise. Did arm work falsely elevate heart rate? That was the question. In my estimation, a ‘burpee” falsely creates “work” that elevates heart rate with a flurry of activity without actually providing movement that has benefit to real life or that encourages good posture in getting to the floor or rising (the action of a burpee).

The same is true for boot camps that suggest you get strength and cardio in the same session. Moving quickly from one exercise to the next you are forced to reduce the amount of weight you lift compared to a focused strength training session. You may have an elevated heart rate but is it productive toward the goals you have? Or is it simply causing breathlessness and fatigue so you have the impression you’ve “worked hard?” And is it potentially setting you up for risk of injury by supporting more momentum. While you’re flipping tires are you being cued to use your legs and not your back, for instance? Or are you being encouraged to get the task done as quickly as possible?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you begun interval training programs only to drop out? Have you experienced any increase in injury from participating in boot camps or fast- moving workouts? On the flip side, have you experienced good results?

If you or someone you know has a significant amount of weight to lose and you’re interested in applying to the beta group of Flipping 50’s Fit U send me an email. We’re launching in March to a limited number of women.

Research on the beneficial fat burning boost of interval training is abundant.

There’s a significant boost in fat burning after exercise with intermittent, or interval, exercise as compared to steady state kinds of exercise.

I wrote in You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women about the hormone-balancing boon of interval training and included science-based evidence that this is true provided the frequency and duration are reasonable (low).

There are few arguments about interval training’s benefits.

There are valid concerns about rate of injury with interval training. Increased use of speed is known to increase rate of injury. Inadequate recovery between high intensity exercise sessions also increases damage while blunting benefits of fat burning. When inflammation and stress are present fat storage increases and fat burning decreases.

Simply, there is a sweet spot for interval training. It’s best at 1-2 times a week frequency with several days between to allow for recovery. Duration is best kept to short sessions.

Assuming (though always dangerous) you were following a smart interval training protocol 1-2 times a week, would there be another way to further increase your fat burning benefits of exercise?

It appears the answer to that question is yes.

Green Tea Benefits

Green tea has long been a favorite source of antioxidants. Catechins in green tea may increase fat oxidation by inhibiting an enzyme that makes your fight-or-flight response slow or stop. When you’re system is revved up longer as during a stressful situation or by exercise, you will expend more energy and fat.

The amount of green tea required to boost metabolism is about 10 cups a day however, so at the least, a little prohibitive for most women.

Matcha, however, makes ingesting that amount of green tea extract easier.

Taking matcha about an hour and a half before exercise with a bit of caffeine (20 mg used in studies) increased both resting and exercise fat oxidation by 24% and 29% respectively. Studies using decaffeinated tea did not result in any change in body weight, BMI, or measurements.

Diet alone results in a loss of weight but also an unfavorable decrease in lean muscle tissue. In the long term, this reduces metabolism and results in weight regain when diet changes resume under the traditional “go on a diet” methodology followed by too many. In one study where diet alone was tested 15/16 in the diet only group lean muscle mass was reduced. Exercise paired with energy reduction (fewer but higher quality calories) resulted in 50% less chance of muscle losses.

How Much Matcha and When

About 90 minutes before interval training exercise, have a tsp. of matcha in your pre-exercise shake.

We also know that adequate protein for adults over 50 in combination with regular exercise and especially with any reduction in calories is crucial to spare muscle losses. Research I included in You Still Got It, Girl! stated that 24 grams of protein before moderate to vigorous exercise and about 40 grams of protein within about 90 minutes post exercise were optimal for helping older adults retain lean muscle mass.

I often have a pre-exercise shake that includes protein and matcha that leaves out fat and fiber that may interfere stomach clearing before my workout. Post-exercise I may have a more full fat, fiber, protein, fruit and veggie rich smoothie or sit down to a high-quality protein rich meal.

In summary, the simple combination of matcha, protein, and interval training may help you boost your fat burning potential, to a level that’s 30% greater than what you’re doing now. Though studies have yet to include matcha’s influence on fat burning post resistance training, since we know that the post-exercise oxygen consumption with resistance training is higher than cardiovascular activity, the suggestion is there that matcha prior to your weight training session would also boost your fat burning benefits.

exercise results

Plus… do a 14 Day Flip with me! 14 short videos daily to move more.. no extremes but a great get-started, or mid-day break.


Dostal AM1, Samavat H1, Espejo L1, Arikawa AY2, Stendell-Hollis NR3, Kurzer MS4. Green Tea Extract and Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Genotype Modify Fasting Serum Insulin and Plasma Adiponectin Concentrations in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Overweight and Obese Postmenopausal Women. J Nutr. 2016 Jan;146(1):38-45. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.222414. Epub 2015 Nov 18.
Gahreman D1, Wang R2, Boutcher Y3, Boutcher S4. Green Tea, Intermittent Sprinting Exercise, and Fat Oxidation. Nutrients. 2015 Jul 13;7(7):5646-63. doi: 10.3390/nu7075245.
Kim JH1, Park Y2. Combined Effects of Phytochemicals and Exercise on Fatty Acid Oxidation. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2016 Dec 31;20(4):20-26. doi: 10.20463/jenb.2016.0053.
Miller CT1, Fraser SF1, Levinger I2, Straznicky NE3, Dixon JB4, Reynolds J5, Selig SE1. The effects of exercise training in addition to energy restriction on functional capacities and body composition in obese adults during weight loss: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 25;8(11):e81692. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081692. eCollection 2013.

The best way to boost your fat burning is to stick with a program that’s designed to progress and keep challenging your body, while still remaining safe and sane so it fits into your life. If you have at least 25 pounds to lose and you want to learn more about the Flipping 50’s Fit to Burn program this spring, send me an email at with Fit to Burn in the subject line. We’re limiting this program to a small group so we can help you track your progress and give you special attention, so don’t wait if you’re ready to invest in yourself.

Women Exercising on Treadmills at Health Club

If you’re not doing interval training, you’ve heard of interval training. In terms of getting the most return in the least amount of time, interval training is a beautiful thing.

The balance to high intensity interval training, and much of the reason it works so well or leads to injury, is the rest and recovery between. By between, I mean between repeats of interval during a session as well as the amount of rest before you perform other high intensity exercise.

Too much of a good thing is cause for injury. We’re seeing hints of that as trends away from 4-6 day a week bootcamps and toward a more balance activity schedule were reported with the 2016 world fitness trends.

We tend to focus on the work intervals. That, of course, is how we burn calories, right? Though calories burned during exercise is NOT the total picture of how fitness is born or gained (just as the scale is not the total picture of how fat is gained or lost), we still can’t help ourselves. Fitness programs, gyms, and online information sources like MyFitnessPal’s subject lines play us like a piano when it comes to high calorie-burning workouts or recipes with fewer than 400 calories. (two recent subject lines in my inbox).

It’s the rest intervals that make or break your progress.

A brand new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that passive recovery, that is, basically standing still, allowed study participants to work harder on subsequent work intervals (in the study they were sprints). Comparing passive recovery to active (where subjects ran or jogged between) there was much less deterioration of performance and most importantly, stress accumulation.

If you’re flipping 50, approaching 50 or you’ve already turned the corner, working hard without injury, and without additional stress are both crucial to your ability to stay active and stop exercise from creating additional cortisol. Stress is stress and even exercise is stress on the body.

If you perform some of the most popular workouts featuring 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery and find you begin to lose form during the latter repeats, you’re probably not achieving your overall goal of burning more energy and at the same time you’re putting yourself at risk for injury.

Rest between high intensity intervals

Speed intervals: Find a stretch of flat area – it could be a city block long – and “sprint” then stand or walk in place to recover for at least the time it took you to sprint up to double that time.

Hill or incline intervals: Find a hill that allows you to “sprint” up (walk fast, run or bike) somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. Then return slowly down the hill – not a jog or anything close to a fast pace. Your breathing should be completely nose-breathing before you repeat the next interval. (You can perform the same thing on a stationary bike, elliptical, or treadmill)

Swim Intervals: Sprint as quickly as possible to one end of the pool, ideally in a 25 or 50-meter pool. Rest at the wall before you go again.

If you perform 5-10 intervals with full rest between you should notice only a slight decline in your performance in latter repeats. If you’re new to intervals, perform five, if you’re experienced shoot for 8-10. These “all-out” intervals mean you should work every single one. If things get cloudy and your performance during hard and recovery during the “easy” interval begin to look too similar, you’re done. Know when to stop.

Always include a warm up and cool down before intervals. Speed always brings a greater risk than adding resistance. So choose a higher gear on your bike or find a hill as opposed to using speed all the time.

Rest between high intensity sessions

That’s across disciplines. If you do interval training on Monday and heavy weight training on Tuesday, you’re not resting between your high intensity exercise sessions. Plan an interval day, and a moderate or easy exercise day the following day.

Sample Interval Workout

Do one high intensity interval training day a week to begin. Add a second as long as you have several days recovery between.

Less of the right kind of exercise wins. You’ll get better results. You’ll feel better.

You’ll stay active longer with fewer injuries.


You may have an amazing doctor. I hope you do. Too frequently this happens: a reader or client tells me about an experience at her doctor’s office that makes the hair on my neck stand up.

She’s gone to the doctor for routine reasons or for undue fatigue and hot flashes that are interfering with life. Sleep patterns have changed and weight is coming on.

The doctor runs tests. The doctor interprets the tests. Hormones are out of balance (aka: out of normal levels). The prescription pad does out.

This past week the exact scenario above happened. Three hundred dollars worth of prescriptions later and an indication that 3-6 months of taking them would help the patient was out the door. She was told a special multi-vitamin (available only through the doctor’s office) after that would be all she’d need once she was back in balance.

I’m not knocking doctors in general. I too still think many of them are wonderful and have a whole-person approach. I’ve had some great docs. No question. From my own family practice doctor to my son’s pediatrician our family has had some great experiences. But like you I’ve also had bad ones.

I had a rough transition time a couple years ago and at my annual obgyn appointment my PA did take the time to ask and catch up – always appreciated. But based on my response she suggested I needed to talk to a therapist if not accept the script she wanted to write. Odd, I thought. Pride maybe, but I felt my emotional response was pretty normal give it was a 12 year investment of love, time and energy and was over. I wouldn’t have expected to take that nonchalantly and move on without a few tears. I’d changed the direction of my career and invested my heart. Not something I took lightly when both parts disappeared.

Never-the-less… (I tell you this to demonstrate doctors are not perfect either!)… I did decide to see someone to sort through my options and thoughts for moving forward. On my second visit she started with, “I have a few questions to ask that I didn’t get to last time… are you suicidal? ”

I LMAO (laughed my buns off) on the way home and wondered what kind of liability that was?! Do you think that could have been important? Thank goodness for her the answer was “no.” She was ready to retire. Not a newbie.

In the instance of the woman I began to tell you about who saw her doc for menopause symptoms that were bothering her? Never once was a question asked about lifestyle habits. No question about her stress level or stressors. No question about sleep habits that might help or hurt. No question about nutrition or exercise habits.

There, in other words was no effort to effect change with change. Medication was the first answer.

Whether you’re talking menopause or your talking depression and anxiety there are a growing number of research studies to prove the positive influence on lifestyle habits. Yes, a medication is sometimes necessary. However, yes absolutely the improvements could either be drastically improved with the right lifestyle habits or medications might be avoided or you could reduce amount or shorten the time needed to be on them.

I do believe in testing as opposed to guessing. I also believe in the power of living with habits that will work based on what’s going on right now with you helping to affect positive change. My first line of defense will always be assessing habits.

Like you fill out the forms when you get to the doctor’s office, I encourage you to take your own personal assessment regularly. More regularly than an annual exam.

Share your experience with doctors – I’d love to hear the good or the bad.


P.S. If you haven’t taken the assessment (checklist) that helps you look at habits that help your fitness after 50 here it is.

INTERVAL TRAINING Tuesday…the last installment. (this includes the beginner I-just-started-intervals and the more advanced I’ve-got-experience) Check the past Tuesday blogs this June for the entire progression.


Warm up 10 minutes>>>ALWAYS!

:30 work and :30 seconds recovery x 15

Cool down 5 minutes easy movement

*short intervals but equally short recovery mean the progression will get harder! Heart rate can’t catch up …go by your “feel” but don’t hold out! For instance at interval 5 or 6 don’t pre-meditate that you have to do 10 more. Work as hard as you can each time even if speed or resistance has to decrease.


Warm up 10 minutes>>>Yep! ALWAYS!

2:00 work and 1:30 recovery x 10

Cool down 5 minutes easy movement

*this longer interval and shorter recovery will be a challenge. You could use heart rate for this interval. If you do, increase your heart rate during the first minute and then sustain it during the second minute. Going by “feel” just be sure not to let yourself off the hook in that second minute: stay focused! All the good tunes on the iPod help! 

Interval Tuesday is Back!

Whether you’re doing intervals on the Nu Step or the track, in the pool or on the elliptical, they provide a time efficient way to get results. If you’re just joining the blog, check out the first introduction to intervals earlier this month and don’t just dive in here in the middle. It’s important you progress from where you are to both get the most benefit and decrease injury risk.

Check out today’s beginning intervals and more experienced/advanced progressions. They aren’t going anywhere…so don’t rush! You can always print out the last four Tuesdays and get the entire line up! Remember this: if last weeks workout was hard to hit, or you missed doing it due to a schedule change…don’t jump in here. Go back a week and do that to catch up.

Beginning Progression this week:

Warm up 10 minutes>>>Yes, You always want to warm up!

1:00 work and :30 seconds recovery x 10

Cool down 5 minutes easy movement


Warm up 10 minutes>>>Yep! You guessed it: repeat!

1:30 work and 1:30 recovery x 10

Cool down 5 minutes easy movement

Last week I shared that I just didn’t make the vegan cut. Aside from my battle of the brain telling me that intuitively I need animal protein, my training regime for endurance events calls for even a dose of regular red meat to insure I get plenty of iron and optimize that at altitude.
Well, turns out my intuition was right. Blood test results show just under norm levels of iron. I’ve always had low norm levels and altitude training has no doubt been harder than it needed to be given this status. Results came in while I was away so the Blood Builder I ordered was here this morning. One dose down and  hopes that even a week of enhancing iron will make a difference. I’ll keep you posted.
What I hope you take away is the lesson to listen to your gut. Women are used to shutting off that little voice when it’s talking about them. Fixing other people’s problems is so much easier! But in the crush of busy lives we tend to ignore the messages we get about ourselves. The question is how loud does it have to get?
In my case for instance, I probably had an inkling before this. But we let it escalate. If you’ve got sleep patterns, wake cycles, symptoms of fatigue or lethargy that just are not “you,” listen and respond. We’ve all heard stories of a doctor who has assured you nothing was wrong. If you know you’re not “right” keep looking for a better listener. They are out there.
Most of all be that for yourself. Or make a deal to chat regularly with a friend about their health care and yours so you’ve got each other’s backs and can step in and let each other know when you have stinking thinking and you really need to do something.
It may be over small things. You don’t need to tolerate even those. Who needs the little extra stressors when life throws things at you that you need to have all your resources for sometimes?
Listen to your own cues. Chat with someone who will listen too. Get a game plan for action.

Interval Training Has It’s Perks

And in case you’re wondering here they are:

If you’re not doing intervals yet or you’re randomly doing intervals I’d love to have you start and give you a boost with how.

Last week I gave two set-ups: one for beginners and one for someone more experienced. So in true personal training professionalism, here’s the progression of each for this week. (This week’s update is Green).


Warm up 10 minutes>>>Repeat this! You always want to warm up!

:30 work to 1:00min recovery x 10>>>:30 work to :30 second recovery x 15

Cool down at least 5 minutes>>> Cool down 5 minutes easy movement


Warm up 10 minutes>>>Yep! You guessed it: repeat!

:30 work to :30 recovery x 30>>>1:00 work to 1:00 recovery x 15

Cool down at least 5 minutes>>>Cool down 5 minutes easy movement

Remember that in between interval days exercising moderate intensity and moderate duration is complimentary to your intervals. Choose activities that are different and complimentary too as much as possible. If you for instance are doing a bootcamp and you have some jumping (plyometrics) or other high impact exercise, then on your alternate days choose biking, rowing or swimming. Walking is OK but it’s still on your feet so if you can get a different type of exercise even better.

I personally love triathlon (and I’m not much faster than when I began 11 years ago) for the cross training effect. After a long run it’s a bike or a swim. By the time another run comes up in my workout I’m recovered and looking forward to it. Nothing gets over-used. I just finished working with a group of beginning 50+ triathletes, not necessarily ready to sign up but because the variety appealed to them so much. It got them “out of the box,” meaning out of their gym.

Consider a change for your summer exercise. A reach outside of your comfort zone is good every once in a while!

Speaking of which… I’m doing just that. I’m really a “flexitarian” at heart. I prefer a lot of fresh plant foods and meals built around them and fish and seafood. I like poultry and I believe that an endurance athlete (I flatter myself) needs some red meat sometimes so I favor lamb (Omega 3 rich) and bison (hey, I’m in Colorado). Although I just pedaled past a pasture full of them and I don’t know, it seems more personal now.

I digress. I’ve had so many questions recently from vegans and vegetarians over 50 who are struggling with the same issues any women with hormone flux can. I feel I need better first hand experience and the best way to learn more about it is to do it. A lot of people do

“meatless Mondays.” Well, for me this is meatless month.


I still have buy in to 25-30 grams of protein at each of three meals and feature protein in snacks. I’m going to have to get creative I know -but I’ve gotten some great suggestions so far and am headed to stock up this evening. Which by the way…leads me to my dilemma today.

I don’t know about you but when it’s nice out I have a really hard time pulling myself out of the sunshine to do “chores.” Including, stock the empty cupboard. So today meal #1 post a bike ride was a creative challenge. I had a vegan protein powder (brown rice) on hand, but that was just short of a serving. I made a smoothie out of what I had with blueberries and coconut milk. Then I stared into the cupboard and ‘fridge. I ended up with a quesadilla with leftover this and that and a can of refried beans! Ezekial tortilla with the beans and almond cheese, a few broccoli sprouts packed in and boom! I hit 30 grams of protein and was proud.

Unless I want to repeat for dinner (I don’t) I’ll have to hit the store after working with a few coaching clients by phone.


Got suggestions or questions about the vegan way? Share them. There’s been quite a bit published regarding whether you can or you can’t get all the essential amino acids from a purely plant-based diet.

Considering RDAs are below what is required for for anything but preventing disease and most Americans fall short of them, it’s no wonder why many argue that you can get all the protein you need from plants. If you’re shooting for 25-30 grams based on preserving lean muscle tissue and boosting metabolism, my jury is still out. I’m searching for answers.

Many physicians end up asking patients to add at least fish to their diet.

What have you heard or what’s true for you?


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