Fitness Checkup: Why You Need to Try the Nitric Oxide Dump Workout

nitric oxide dump

Story at-a-glance -

  • Exercise is a key component to any health program and a necessary daily activity to prevent chronic disease and boost your sense of well-being
  • High-intensity exercise such as the Nitric Oxide Dump is a highly recommended, time-efficient workout that can be completed anytime, anywhere in about four minutes
  • The Nitric Oxide Dump workout stimulates the release of nitric oxide, a soluble gas and free radical stored in the lining of your blood vessels that can catalyze your health by making your mitochondria work harder
  • In addition to high-intensity exercise, I recommend you make time for walking, stretching, weight training and yoga; if you have joint issues, consider water-based activities instead
  • It’s never too late to start exercising and you can get started by taking action to reduce the time you spend sitting, while incorporating more activity and movement into your daily routine

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By Dr. Mercola

Our anniversary week is a great time to check on you with respect to your fitness goals. We're just past midyear and now's the time to revisit your plan to ensure you will finish the year strong. If you are new to exercise, it's rarely too late to start. Simply look for ways to get more activity and movement into your day or choose a form of exercise you can commit to doing regularly and get going with it.

As you think about the exercise you are currently getting or about types of exercise you may want to begin doing, I hope you will consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT focuses on short bursts of intense exercise that stimulate your mitochondria to work harder. I often mention you're only as healthy as your mitochondria, mainly because mitochondrial dysfunction is at the root of virtually all disease. One particular HIIT I hope you'll consider is the Nitric Oxide Dump.

It is a four-minute workout featuring four exercises that address your 16 major muscle groups. While it may be hard to believe, in those few minutes you can achieve the same quality workout and benefits as if you'd exercised in the gym for an hour. That's because the program is designed to stimulate the release of nitric oxide, a soluble gas and free radical stored in the lining of your blood vessels that can catalyze your health. Let's take a closer look at this workout and some of my other fitness recommendations.

Why the Nitric Oxide Dump Is Perhaps the Best Workout Ever

If you've been following me for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about HIIT. It's one of my favorite forms of exercise. I love HIIT not only because it takes less time, but also because it makes my mitochondria work harder, ensuring my body is primed to resist disease. As I mentioned earlier, a particular HIIT workout called the Nitric Oxide Dump requires just four minutes to complete and it features basic exercises to address all 16 of your major muscle groups.

Dr. Zach Bush, whose triple-board certification includes expertise in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, says the Nitric Oxide Dump is efficient anaerobically and the more you do it, the better it works. I demonstrate a version of the workout in the video above. This routine works best if you complete it three times a day, waiting at least two hours between sessions, which is how long it takes for nitric oxide to synthesize in your body for subsequent release. Bush comments:1

"Our blood vessels actually only store about 90 seconds' worth of nitric oxide before they need to manufacture more, so working each major muscle group out for 90 seconds gives you the most efficient workout to tone and build muscles. The body has the ability to regenerate nitric oxide every couple of hours, giving you the opportunity to release it multiple times a day. What that means is the most effective way to increase your muscle function is to work out very briefly every few hours."

The Nitric Oxide Dump program is one of the best ways to start toning your body's systems, plus it's free and so easy nearly anyone can do it. This workout is so convenient you can perform it multiple times per day at home or work and even while you are on vacation. Beyond loose-fitting clothing, no special equipment is required and you can do the workout indoors or out.

How a Free Radical Like Nitric Oxide Can Benefit Your Body

The key to the Nitric Oxide Dump workout centers on the release of nitric oxide. It is produced by nearly every type of cell in your body and is one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health. While you often hear about the negative effects of free radicals, your body needs some of them to be healthy. Nitric oxide is a free radical that acts as a vasodilator, which means it causes your blood vessels to expand and dilate, promoting blood flow and lowering your blood pressure.

It also improves your immune function, stimulates the thinning of your blood and decreases blood viscosity, which in turn decreases platelet aggregation. As such, nitric oxide helps reduce your risk of developing a life-threatening blood clot. Another benefit of nitric oxide is that it's a powerful anabolic stimulus known to help increase your lean body mass. When you increase your muscle mass, your body is more easily able to burn fat for fuel.

The increased presence of free radicals such as nitric oxide signals your body to create more mitochondria — a process called mitochondrial biogenesis. This is necessary to keep up with the heightened energy requirement. Your mitochondria are the energy storehouses of your cells and are also the energy source for your skeletal muscles. Mitochondrial changes can have a positive impact on your skeletal muscle, fat tissue and even your liver, brain and kidneys.

Five Benefits of the Nitric Oxide Dump Workout

When performed daily, multiple times a day, the Nitric Oxide Dump can help provide health benefits such as:2,3

1. Improving age-related decline in your muscle mitochondria: The Nitric Oxide Dump may assist with counteracting mitochondrial decline because exercise forces your mitochondria to replicate themselves in response to the higher energy requirement demanded by the workout. Even though aging is inevitable, the ability exercise has to spur positive mitochondrial changes may help slow some of the effects of biological aging.

2. Increasing your VO2 max: VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can handle while exercising. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight. As a measure of your cardiovascular endurance, the higher your VO2 max, the greater your stamina.

3. Reducing insulin resistance: Research has proven high-intensity exercise may help decrease insulin resistance, a known precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that losing weight by working out significantly improves your insulin resistance.

4. Targeting your large muscle groups to promote weight loss: The Nitric Oxide Dump features a series of movements that target your large muscle groups such as arms, shoulders and thighs. Doing the exercises correctly will yield both anabolic and metabolic benefits, which will promote both weight loss and fat loss throughout your body over time.

5. Triggering mitochondrial biogenesis for whole-body benefits: Exercise can promote mitochondrial changes that have the potential to deliver whole-body benefits, including the declines in mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial protein quality that are typically influenced by aging.

Because exercise can promote mitochondrial biogenesis in the brain, it has been shown to positively contribute to the reduction or reversal of age-associated decline in cognitive function and assist in repairing brain damage after a stroke.4,5

Getting Started: A Few Reminders Before Doing HIIT

HIIT exercises like the Nitric Oxide Dump may seem intense, especially if you are elderly or have not exercised before. The truth is, with a few modifications and some patience, most people can perform these exercises — at any age — and reap significant benefits.

That said, it's best you talk to your doctor before undertaking any new exercise routine, especially HIIT, to ensure your body can handle it. To avoid injury, you also can consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer for advice on how to customize the exercises to your particular needs and situation.

Other Types of Exercise I Recommend You Perform Regularly

Daily walking: Given the popularity of fitness tracking apps and devices, you probably recognize the positive effect daily walking can have on your health. To get in the recommended 10,000 to 15,000 steps daily, you'll need to take every opportunity to walk by parking farther away from your destination, taking the stairs, walking on your lunch break and so on.

Strength training: As featured in the video above, strength training is an important aspect of any fitness program. It's well-known that working with weights ­­— whether it be your own body weight or that of a dumbbell or machine — is a beneficial exercise designed to enhance your muscle tone and strengthen your bones.

This form of exercise is well-known for preventing osteoporosis and joint damage from osteoarthritis. It also helps boost your metabolism, reduce your body mass index and lower your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Stretching: When used as part of your warmup, active stretching has been shown to positively influence your agility, endurance, flexibility power, speed and strength performance. Active isolated stretching (AIS), a method developed by kinesiology and kinesiotherapy specialist Aaron Mattes, can also help you rehab from injuries.

With AIS, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body's natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of your muscle joints.

Yoga: Yoga is a holistic lifestyle practice focused on promoting a connection among your mind, body and spirit. Research suggests yoga and other meditative practices can alter your genetic expression.6 The benefits of regular yoga practice include improved cognitive function, heart health, immunity, mental health, sexual performance and sleep. Yoga also promotes increased balance, flexibility and strength. In addition, it is a wonderful tool to address low-back pain.

It's Never Too Late to Start an Exercise Program

Regardless of your age and physical condition, it's rarely too late to start an exercise program. Some of my readers have suggested I set too high a bar when it comes to exercise. Given my advanced level of fitness, it may seem my suggestions are out of reach for the average person. I assure you every program I recommend can be adjusted and customized to your individual needs. If you're not sure how, you may want to consult a personal trainer.

In the video above, my late mother, who was 76 years old at the time of filming, proves anyone can exercise. The key is to focus on what you can do more than what you cannot do. Bringing as much movement as possible into your activities of daily living is a great place to start. Instead of sitting for long hours, break up the time with short walks, gardening or household chores. If you work at a desk all day, take breaks every hour and consider investing in a standing desk, which I have found to be beneficial.

If you have joint problems and are concerned about ankle, knee or hip pain, you might consider swimming or another water-based activity. In addition to supporting your cardiovascular fitness and boosting your fat burning and strength, swimming offers one clear benefit for people who have trouble exercising on land: It's not a weight-bearing workout.

If you are overweight or obese, struggle with joint pain or osteoarthritis or are elderly and unable to engage in higher impact activities, exercising in water will allow your body to move in a wider range of motion, often without pain. By exercising in water, you'll also reduce your risk of falls, sprains and other injuries.

Vertical water workouts, such as deep-water jogging, flexibility training, water aerobics, water yoga and more, are a few of the options to consider when you jump into the pool. Given the higher amounts of resistance involved, vertical water exercises are a great alternative to land-based programs or horizontal swimming, particularly if you have chronic pain or mobility issues.

The Bottom Line: Move More and Sit Less

Even if you exercise on a regular basis, research validates 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a few days a week is insufficient to counteract the effects of sitting all day. Whether working at a desk, playing video games, sitting during transportation or other sedentary tasks like reading, studying or surfing the internet, more than half of the average person's time awake is spent sitting.7

The health challenges associated with not moving enough are significant and wide ranging. The chronic illnesses most often linked to lack of activity include certain cancers, heart disease, insulin resistance and obesity. Although I highly recommend you try the Nitric Oxide Dump workout, the bottom line is you need to move more and sit less. Regardless of what exercise you choose or how often you commit to doing it, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing something. Start today!