PACE or Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion, designed by Dr. Al Sears, is an intense workout programme that lays out a step by step plan to lose fat in a short duration while protecting your heart from heart attacks. PACE program does not demand long hours of workout to lose weight.
Just set aside as little as 12 minutes a day and you are on your way to achieving the fit figure that you long for. PACE program brought a huge change in the way people exercised and challenged the age old view that lengthy workouts lead to better results.
Traditionally, most workout programs such as aerobics and cardio training stretched for more than an hour a day to reach a desired fitness level. PACE involves short intense bursts of one or two minute workouts that allow maximum exertion followed by short recovery and then the repetition of the exercise with raised intensity until one reaches exertion point. The whole session should last no longer than 20-minutes. But how can a 12 to 20 minute intense exercise with rest periods work better than a lengthy session of workout? Let us understand the logic advocated by Dr Al Sears.
Normally during the first 20 minutes of the workout, our body draws its energy from carbohydrates and then shifts into fat burning mode. So we all believe that, longer sessions of workout are more effective in burning off the fat and short burst of exercises will only help in spending the carbohydrates consumed.
But, when we are working out for long hours and eventually losing fat, the body will start accumulating fat so as to prepare our body for the subsequent sessions of exercise. In other words, the body will replenish the lost fat, instead of muscle, to help us face the next session of workout. This way we are caught up in cycles of losing and gaining weight. But PACE programme works against the fat build up to induce weight loss.
PACE recommends a 12 minute workout having short burst of intense exercises with recovery periods in between. The duration suggested by Dr Al Sears will work on the carbohydrates. But, how does it help us in burning off fat? According to PACE, we start to burn fat after the workout, but not during the workout.
The short and intense exercise consumes only the Carbs and hence body will make all efforts to recoup the same by drawing energy from the existing fats. Thus body is burning the fat gradually throughout the day.
The benefits of Dr Al Sears PACE programme goes beyond weight loss and helps in increasing lung capacity. The typical aerobics and long hours of endurance training will only limit the person to work within his or her aerobic capacity whereas PACE works upon improving the lung capacity thus saving the heart from heart attacks.
Since PACE incorporates exercises of varying intensities gradually increasing the exertion levels, it trains your lungs and heart to cope up with the increased activity and thus expands the lung capacity.
As you widen your limits by progressively increasing the intensity, your lungs start to take in more oxygen and your heart can pump more blood. At the end, the reserve capacity of the heart is raised and you are better equipped to deal with the stress there by protecting yourself from heart diseases.
PACE program - a step by step guide
The best part of PACE programme is that you can choose any form exercise, sport and exercise equipment and adapt it to the PACE method. But the key to achieving success lies in progressively increasing the intensity and also changing the form of exercise from time to time. You can go for sprints, treadmill, trampoline, cycling, swimming, stationary bike, stair climbing, elliptical machine, kettle bells or similar activities.
If you have been sedentary all along and are a beginner, you can start with modest walking. The whole idea behind the PACE programme is to keep on increasing the intensity to raise the exertion levels and thus induce quick weight loss along with increased lung capacity.
This is the sample work out under PACE programme. Let us base the example with sprints, the workout for first two weeks may be planned accordingly.
Warm up (3 minutes)
Exertion - 4 minute sprint
Recovery ( until heart rate has come back to 20% of your maximum heart rate)
Exertion - 3 minute sprint
Exertion - 2 minute sprint
Exertion - 1 minute sprint
Walk or stretch yourself for two minutes and wrap up. Remember that while you are on recovery, you are still moving, but at a very slow pace. In other words, you are shifting between high intensity workout and exercise with easy pace during exertion and recovery periods respectively.
Change the exercise from sprint to any other form like treadmill or running after two weeks and also remember to increase intensity level. For example, if you have been working at level 7 on treadmill for first two weeks, increase it to level 9.
Before you start on PACE program
1. Always consult your physician before starting the PACE programme. Get your fitness levels checked and seek medical advice before starting high intensity workout.
2. Play safe, always begin with comfortable range during the first week of the programme and gradually challenge yourself as you progress.
3. Discontinue the exercise at once if you feel giddy, light-headed or nauseous during the workout.
As the name suggests, cardiopulmonary exertion involves stimulating the heart and lungs to work harder, speeding up the breathing and pulse. The workouts are shorter as the time from peak exertion and resting is lesser. It rests on the premise that exercise can work dramatic results on the body; only when it is doing a different exercise over time.