It’s an early evening, lying in bed listening to some podcasts while Mandy reads her Bible. I turn to her and say, “I’m really worried about mitochondrial density.” There’s a pause….”well you worry about thay, I’ll worry about other things.” As she goes back to her reading.
It’s the curse of a personal trainer/fitness geek. It’s the things I think about. But I’ve got to talk about it.
You probably don’t think about your mitochondria. Probably not since 8th grade biology anyway. But the mitochondria is so important that recent studies have even indicated that cancer is linked to metabolic disorders, not genetics. Other diseases that are now being looked at at mitochondrial issues are Parkinsons, dimensia, and Alzthymers. As an athletic fueling coach, I pay very close attention to mitochondrial health and function.
The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Of the entire body, the human heart has the densest mitochondria. It’s the component that supplies energy to the cell that allows for its function, whether that be repair, reorganization, detoxing or growth. When the mitochondria is weak, the cell can die or even mutate. Nevertheless, function and performance is halted.
So how could one strengthen the mitochondria? I don’t have enough time to get into all of the practise out there, and you wouldn’t have the time nor money to invest is many of these. However there are, on a practical level, some simple things that can be done.
Every human being should take 5 grams of creatine a day. Creatine is safe and effective for supplying adenosine triphosphate or ATP to the mitochondria. ATP is energy for the cell. This suppliment isn’t just for weight lifters. Studies have shown greater cognitive function as well as digenerative protection in the elderly. Remember, fuel to mitochondria equals stronger cells, even in the brain.
2. Hypoxic training (anerobic)
This would be training to get out of breath, to put it simply. Reaching your VO2 max (volume of oxyge), especially in intervals, has shown a great impact on mitochondrial density than steady state cardio. Try all out 80 meter sprints followed by walking or jogging for a minute or 2 for 6 to 8 reps. You’ll be exhausted but your cells are getting stronger.
3. Anabolic lifting
That’s right, lifting heavy weights. Heavy sets of low reps is one of the best ways to improve mitochondrial density. I believe in the ‘royal court’ of lifting. Meet the royal family…King Squats, Queen Deadlift, and Prince Bench Press. These 3 lifts are your best friends when it comes building strong, tough cells. Try 70-80% of your one rep max for 5 sets at 5 reps. The old Rwg Park 5×5. It’s timely and it works.
I’ll leave this as the last one tonight, and perhaps even the most important one..Sleep is crucial to cellular repair and growth. I feed my cells a mixture of zinc, magnesium and B6 every night as a recovery formula. I also take an electrolyte pill and drink plenty of water. I go to bed early and sleep deep. This allows for regeneration and optimal healing and performance at the most basic level as my body then is able to support testosterone and human growth hormone production. It’s the perfect set up.
I’m doing everything I can these days from plenty of natural vitamin D, blue light blocking technology, high fat/low carb ketogenic diet, and everything I mentioned above to truly optimize and strengthen my mitochondria. I.wasnt joking when I said I worries about it, it perhaps more accurately stated, I’m concerned about it. With healthy mitochondria, the chance disease is nearly eradicated, inflammation is an after thought, and old age is something to look forward to not feared.