3. Aerobics: Myths,Lies and Misconceptions

3. Aerobics: Myths,Lies and Misconceptions

By Mike Mentzer

If you seriously doubt that overtraining may have long-term medical implications, bear in mind that exercise is a form of stress. While most think of a suntan or muscles as merely cosmetic, that’s not why they exist. Suntans and larger muscles are defensive barriers the body erects to protect itself from future assaults from the same stressors, but they can be overwhelmed. Someone who repeatedly overexposed himself to intense August sunlight would soon die, as the sun’s rays would literally cook his skin and underlying tissues. By the same token, chronic overtraining could inordinately tax the overall physical system and result in a breakdown somewhere, such as the glandular system. Cooper (Dr Kenneth -Aerobics Inst.) has gone so far as to attribute the Hodgkin’s disease of hockey great Mario Lemieux and distance runner Marty Liquori to chronic overtraining.

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A widespread myth among fitness enthusiasts has it that one must train one way for increasing muscular size and strength and another way for improving cardiovascular condition: lift weights to build strength and jog to enhance aerobic condition. As Arthur Jones (Nautilus Strength) stated, “Half of that belief is true, since jogging will do nothing to build strength and size and will, in fact, if overdone, as it usually is, do quite a bit in the way of reducing both muscular strength and size. But it’s not true that proper strength-building exercises will do nothing for improving cardiovascular condition.” How did Jones arrive at that conclusion?

In 1975 Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries funded one of the most important studies in the history of exercise science. Project Total Conditioning was conducted at the United States Military Academy at West Point and was overseen by Colonel James Anderson. The purpose of the study was to pin down how to use Nautilus exercise equipment properly and identify the physiological consequences of a short-duration, high-intensity-training program. It asked such questions as
– How much skeletal-muscle strength can be achieved from brief, intense workouts? and
– How does strength training affect cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and overall body composition?

The subjects included 18 varsity football players who trained all of their major muscle groups with 10 different strength exercises three times a week for eight weeks. The workouts were brief but very intense, with each exercise performed for only one set to failure. An extensive battery of tests and measurements was administered to the subjects after two weeks of training and at the conclusion of the study. According to the study report, “The prestudy testing was not scheduled until after two weeks of workouts to minimize the influence of what is commonly referred to as the learning effect on individual performance.”

Results? After only six weeks of training, the 18 subjects had increased the amount of resistance they used in the 10 exercises by an average of 58.54 percent. What’s more, despite such a tremendous increase in their strength—and the associated increase in overall physiological stress they were exposed to—the duration of their training dropped by nine minutes.

As a measure of the functional application of intense, brief strength training, the exercising subjects and a control group—which didn’t train at all or did so on their own—were tested in three areas: a two-mile run, a 40-yard dash and a vertical jump. On the two-mile run the exercising subjects’ improvement was four to 32 times greater than the control group’s. On the 40-yard dash it was 4.57 times greater, and on the vertical jump it was close to two times greater.

What about cardiovascular improvement? While conventional strength-training practices preclude cardiovascular improvement, especially when trainees take long, arbitrary rest periods between sets—which keeps them from maintaining an elevated heart rate—at the end of the study the training subjects tested better than the control group in all 60 indices of training effects on cardiovascular function.

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So, don’t get on a Cardio machine to improve your Aerobic capacity and endurance- just rest less and move quicker when you weight train! You’ll save time, stimulate more muscle and get LEAN.

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Thanks. Jax

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1. Aerobics: Myths,Lies and Misconceptions

1. Aerobics: Myths,Lies and Misconceptions
By Mike Mentzer

This was one of the last features Mike Mentzer wrote for IRON MAN before his death in 2001. It’s an interesting and eye-opening look at aerobics and conditioning.

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For three decades, ever since Kenneth Cooper, M.D., published his first book on the subject, the public has been force-fed the idea that aerobic fitness is the be-all and end-all of fitness and that highly repetitive, steady-state activities, such as jogging and bicycling, are the best means of achieving it. None of that is true. Aerobic conditioning is only one element of a broader concept—total fitness—which is made up of several components, including skeletal-muscle strength, skeletal density, flexibility, endurance, maintenance of lean body mass and, finally, a positive self-image. Only a properly conducted high-intensity weight-training program can achieve total fitness—and in a minimum of time.

If you’ve been engaged in a fitness program that includes some type of aerobic activity involving the mind-numbing, repetitive use of the legs or a few skeletal muscles, you’ve been wasting your time. Aerobic activity does nothing, absolutely zero, to provide for increased skeletal-muscle strength; in fact, by overworking a few muscles to the exclusion of others, aerobic activity creates certain dangerous imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, which increases the likelihood of injury. Furthermore, as Greg Anderson of Ideal Exercise in Seattle explains in a brochure he gives to all of his members, “Running is an extremely high-force activity that’s damaging to the knees, hips and back. Aerobic dancing is probably worse. And so-called low-impact activities, such as stationary bicycling, aren’t necessarily low force.”

Aerobic activity doesn’t improve flexibility, anaerobic endurance or lean body mass. In addition, owing to the gross overtraining that many aerobic obsessives engage in, it can actually cause them to sacrifice lean mass—known as overuse atrophy—and thus lose muscle tone. That’s what causes a deterioration of their physical appearance, which is responsible for the flabby look many of them have.

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Dr.Kenneth Cooper ‘Jogging’ the fitness craze of the ’80’s

Aerobic exercise activates so few muscle fibers that it burns very few calories and is, therefore, a poor way to get rid of fat. Despite what you’ve heard over and over, steady-state activities such as jogging, cycling and dancing burn very few calories. In fact, one pound of fat will fuel at least 10 hours of continuous activity. Some alleged experts have suggested that aerobic activity is important, as it increases the resting metabolic rate. Since aerobic exercise burns so few calories while you’re doing it, how much can it increase the rate of calories burned when you’re not doing it?

It was never cast in stone that you must limit your exercise activity to repetitive movement of the legs to improve cardiorespiratory health and fitness. The cardinal principle for improving cardiorespiratory fitness is that you sustain an age-related elevated heart rate for 12 minutes or more. As a number of studies have demonstrated, that’s best accomplished with a program that works not merely the legs but all the major skeletal muscles with high-intensity weight training that limits the rest between sets so you can maintain an elevated pulse.

Many well-known aerobics advocates are finally admitting that the concept of aerobic training is erroneous. Former cardiovascular surgeon Irving Dardik, M.D., for instance, exclaimed a few years ago, “The basic concept behind aerobic conditioning is wrong.” Dr. Dardik also made the point that the best way to train is by using short bursts of elevated intensity followed by a brief rest, followed by another burst of demanding activity.

Then there’s Covert Bailey, author of Fit or Fat and once the guru of so-called gentle aerobic activity, who now recommends high-intensity wind sprints to those seeking maximum fitness. Wind sprints, while high-intensity, are a dangerous high-force activity that will inevitably result in torn hamstrings, strained Achilles tendons and damaged knees.

A properly conducted high-intensity weight-training regimen, on the other hand, in which the muscles are worked relatively slowly through a full range of motion for 10 to 15 reps to failure and the forces are low to moderate, is the ideal way to exercise, with practically zero risk of injury.

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