I have been motivating and educating people on exercise and fitness for almost 20 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 the article Aerobics is Dead!, Dr. Al Sears 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 10 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.
Few people understand that when Nautilus exercise machines where invented (early 1970's) the big idea was more than the unique cam shaft allowing for a more consistent and smooth motion with variable resistance. A big part of the big idea was "the program."
The program consisted of how all of the different machines were used in sequence and without rest in between sets. It was called circuit training.
The university I was attending on a football scholarship purchased all of the Nautilus machines, and actually built a separate room so that each machine could be strategically placed and used exactly as prescribed.
I will never forget my first experience with Nautilus. The entire football team was brought to the Nautilus room and each machine was manned. The remaining athletes stood in line waiting their turn to jump into the circuit. The instructions where that on the coaches whistle everyone was to work as hard as they could on the machine they were on for only one minute. When the minute was up the coach blew the whistle again and everyone hurriedly moved forward to the next machine, and the whistle blew again immediately.
When I finished my 10-minute workout, as described, I ran out of the building and did what just about every other well conditioned athlete did... I threw up!
Many years later I stepped out of professional football and into a sedentary job. I went from pushing weights to pushing pencils! My playing weight as an offensive tackle in the NFL was 285. This, coupled with my lack of desire to exercise (I felt like I had exercised enough for two lifetimes)-along with a serious back injury from a parachuting accident-produced a fitness crisis.
I was thick and tired of it! Remembering my Nautilus circuit training experience, I went to work on figuring out a way to do a series of exercises that could be done in the convenience of my own home, at a very high level of intensity. I was determined to recreate my unforgettable Nautilus experience but in such a way that would allow me to get the same results without big expensive machines.
The conventional approach of exercising 2 to 3 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes, was not working for me, and for that matter not working for most of my friends who were also busy professionals with families. I had an idea. Instead of working out a few times a week for long periods of time, what if you could get the same results by working out every day, but in only 10 minutes?
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 EVERY DAY 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 10 and 15 minutes max.
(2) Rest only briefly between exercises, and as you get into better shape eliminate your rest stops altogether.
Goodbye aerobics... goodbye jogging for hours on end... goodbye feeling guilty for yet again missing a workout at the gym because the 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.
Now that you've exercised your mind, why not change your body?
Former NFL player Dave Hubbard, known today as America's Fitness Coach®, has been lecturing on how to Get Fit For Life for over 20 years. He is the author of FAT to Fit In Only 10 Minutes a Day! Learn more about getting fit in 10 minutes a day at www.Fit10.com and read more from Dave on his blog at www.davehubbardfitness.blog.com.