I have been motivating and educating people on exercise and fitness for almost twenty years. I enjoy teaching people the truth concerning how their body works—either for or against them—depending on how they exercise.
I believe it’s best to first exercise your mind before you exercise your body. Comedian Emo Phillips once said, “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” Very funny! But seriously, it is your brain that tells you what to do. So if you expect your brain to instruct you accurately, it must receive accurate information.
Let’s begin this session of mind-exercise with the following statement of fact: As it relates to cardiovascular fitness—especially building a strong heart and lungs—aerobics is bad science!
Yes, you read that correctly. If your goal with exercise is cardiovascular conditioning to prevent heart disease, a heart attack, and to build a strong heart and lungs—there is a much more effective method of exercise than aerobics.
Most people don’t think about the fact that their heart is a muscle. Here’s a fact missed by just about everyone. To keep your heart beating longer and stronger, long duration endurance training is the last thing that it needs. You will do much more for your heart by exercising in brief spurts.
Less is more: Conventional wisdom says that your heart needs endurance training to remain healthy. But heart attacks aren’t caused by a lack of endurance. Heart attacks typically occur at rest or at periods of very high cardiac output. Often there is a sudden increase in demand. A person lifts a heavy object, receives an unexpected emotional blow, etc. The sudden demand for cardiac output exceeds that heart’s capacity to adapt.
What you really need is faster cardiac output. By exercising for long periods, you actually induce the opposite response. When you exercise continuously for longer periods of time, your heart has to become more efficient. Greater efficiency comes from “downsizing”. You give up maximal capacity because smaller can go further.
A recent Harvard study examined middle-aged men, exercise, and cardiovascular health. Researchers found that men who performed repeated short bouts of exercise reduced their heart disease risk by 100% more than those who performed long duration exercise.
In an article by Al Sears, M.D., titled “Aerobics is Dead!” he states:
The biggest mistake of the 1980s is finally over and done with… Jumping around for 45 minutes to an hour won’t boost your lung capacity, it won’t strengthen your heart—it won’t even help you lose weight. Even worse, aerobic training—the kind most doctors and even the federal government tout as the path to good health—can actually wreck your body. Do enough, and aerobics will make you sick, tired and old before your time.
If you only exercise within your current aerobic limits, you do so without improving your aerobic capacity. In other words, you never push hard enough to stop to catch your breath. This kind of aerobic exercise trains your body for endurance and efficiency.
That sounds great, right? But this kind of “logic” causes “shrinkage:” Smaller muscles, smaller heart and smaller lungs. What’s worse, it wipes out your heart’s and lung’s reserve capacity.
Your reserve capacity is what your heart and lungs use to deal with stress. Injuries or physical trauma, a shocking emotional blow [etc.]… these all demand reserve energy.
Reserve capacity means your heart has the ability to pump more blood, faster in times of stress. Reserve capacity for your lungs allows them to deal with high exertion like lifting, carrying, running or going up stairs. Without reserve capacity, you are much more likely to drop dead from a heart attack or pneumonia when faced with stress.
How’s your brain workout so far? In this mind-exercise session, that was your stretching! I know at this point you’re saying to yourself, “Are you kidding me … all those hours of aerobic exercise have been counterproductive for my heart and lungs?” “Certainly that can’t be right!” But it is right. Let me ask you this; have you ever seen a Cheetah jogging? For that matter, have you ever seen any animal jog?
The animals that have the strongest hearts and lungs—and oh-by-the-way—the strongest leanest bodies, are those animals like Cheetahs whose physical exercise consists of; (A) short bursts of highly intense sprinting in pursuit of their prey, and (B) after pouncing on their catch, continue their short-duration-high-intensity-strength-training by using every muscle in their body in a wrestling match. After all that (it usually takes less than ten minutes), they settle down for a big meal.
Notice that the preceding “exercise” description was void of aerobics. It was rather, a brief but highly intense anaerobic workout. Therein lies the secret, you do not have to do aerobic exercise to have a lean strong body and a strong stress-proof heart.
Good news: You can greatly increase your metabolism and lose weight by exercising in short intervals at a high intensity where the demand for oxygen is much higher than can be supplied. This type of exercising (Burst Training) creates a debt of oxygen in just one minute. As you resume normal activities, your body will repay that debt of oxygen. This repayment of debt means that your body burns extra calories throughout the day without any additional workout time.
The following statement had a profound impact on changing my attitude about how long and how often I exercised:
IT’S FAR BETTER TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH
FOR 2-3 MINUTES A DAY, THAN
FOR 45 MINUTES 2-3 TIMES A MONTH!
The key to your fitness success long term, is to exercise EVERYDAY, but at a very high intensity level. Get in, get out, and get it over with! If done correctly, you will have exercised harder, and at a much higher efficiency level then otherwise spending 30-45 minutes.
(1) Increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise, (2) Decrease the time spent doing it to between ten and fifteen minutes max. (2) Rest only briefly between exercises, and as you get into better shape eliminate your rest stops altogether,
Good bye aerobics…good bye jogging for hours on end…good bye feeling guilty for yet again missing my workout at the gym because my day got too busy. Hello lean strong muscles…hello strong heart and lungs, and energy to spare…hello satisfaction for having worked out like a Cheetah everyday this week.