Fact: Beer tastes better when you’ve earned it. If you still stink from the gym and people are fleeing from adjacent tables, this is doubly true.
More than one physician has assured us that you can stick to your Basic workouts forever and reap all of the health benefits that come from exercise. As long as you work out within your target heart rate range, you are working hard enough to benefit from it. You can choose to earn more calories by extending the length of your exercise sessions. You do not need to push yourself such that you end a workout by throwing up.
That said, if you want to recapture the vigor of your youth you are going to have to crank it up notch.
Fair warning: Advanced means that exercise is going to become a huge part of your life. You will be hitting the road or the gym for 45 minutes to an hour five to six days per week. You will also spend hours obsessing, planning, scheduling, agonizing, celebrating and even bragging; it seems to come with the territory. This obsessiveness is probably the result of the sheer time commitment. When someone asks, “What have you been up to?” the only truthful response is to describe your latest workouts. Fair warning: only conversations about work are possibly more boring than conversations about personal workout routines. But…exercise really is what you have been doing. This is not to say that you have to give up the rest of your life. But you will be surprised how quickly six hours of physical activity a week starts to suck up more and more of your time. Advanced is very much a mental and physical commitment. The physical commitment is time limited. The mental commitment is limited only by your neurosis. We are the kind of neurotics who obsess for hours over our workouts; fortunately, it tends to be a pleasant process because we mostly do it in the evening over a glass or two of wine. If nothing else, discussing tomorrow’s work out keeps us from obsessing over the latest Hollywood meltdown.
Because you will be spending an inordinate amount of time exercising and thinking about exercise, it is easy to burn out. Fitness can start to feel like work. There will be days when you desperately want to do the equivalent of calling human resources to tell them that you won’t be in the office because you’ve grown weary of your current projects and coworkers. The problem is that unlike work, exercise is easy to cancel; you simply don’t show up. No one calls. No one asks awkward questions. If you miss a workout, only you know. It happens millions of times a day. That’s why your local gym can have over 5,000 members, but only one person will be in there working out on an average Thursday morning. This is also the reason Advanced is all about focusing your exercise toward specific fitness goals.
Your goal can be anything athletic which you find difficult to achieve. But your goal should scare you. The right kind of obsessive athletic goal in Advanced mode should take a long time and a lot of hard work to accomplish. It should involve gut-wrenching intensity, intimidating duration, or preferably both. If you think that you can reach you goal without a long and difficult slog, pick something more challenging.