Stop Rolling Coal with your workouts.

Maybe it's because I grew up in central PA, but this just feels right to me.

Maybe it's because I grew up in central PA, but this just feels right to me.

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

This was one of my first AGT posts before I knew the term AGT

You may have noticed in the last couple of years that diesel trucks don't smoke very much. That's likely because of the EPA's 2007 heavy-duty diesel requirements. But when a diesel does smoke, what's happening? A diesel engine is designed to run lean (unlike a gasoline engine which always runs at a 14.7:1 air:fuel ratio no matter what), there's always enough air in the engine to burn all of the diesel fuel injected into the cylinder. In the old days, when hard acceleration was needed, it was easy to set up the injectors to dump fuel into the engine. Since there wasn't enough air to burn all of the fuel, lots of unburned fuel (soot) came out the stacks. You got maximum power - all the air was burned - but wasted tons of extra fuel. That doesn't happen anymore because of all of the computers on the engines.

Basically, the old, easy way to get maximum power out of the engine was just to dump in more fuel than could be used. Even ignoring the environmental impact, this is bad: running like this for a long time isn't good for the longevity of the engine. Exhaust temperatures soar, potentially melting important components like the turbo. Soot can clog things. It's generally not a good idea to run a smoking diesel.

Mitochondria are the power generators in your body. They gently chug along burning fuel, generating energy for your cells to use. What happens when you need extra power? Your body dumps more fuel (sugar) into the mitochondria and tries to burn fuel faster than what they were designed for.

What happens when mitochondria burn sugar in high quantities? They leave behind large quantities of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and can't clean up after themselves because it's too much volume. Ever hear of anti-oxidants? The reason they're good is they help clean up the ROS which are very reactive and cause lots of bad downstream effects.

How much fuel is too much to push through the mitochondria? Well, it turns out that "fat burning zone" that's on all the fancy cardio equipment is the exact wrong level of effort.

If you follow the conventional wisdom on how to do your cardio, you're at a rate that's too low to get stronger and better, but too high to recover from, and it causes you to burn too much low-quality fuel way too fast.

If you're training for strength you need to go hard enough to get stronger, and we do that by programming heavy weights and lots of rest. If you're training for endurance, you need to go low enough that you're not spending hours burning too much low-quality fuel. By going really slow, you'll be actually stimulating mitochondria growth in your cells - increasing the power density - it's like building a bigger motor so that when you dump fuel in, there's enough air to not cause it to create soot.

Michael Deskevich