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Saturday, August 13, 2011

From time to time I review the fitness infomercials on television. “Mercial” they are, informative they are not. Most of them produce more disinformation than any dictator’s propaganda bureau can produce. Under the guise of something new and revolutionary they repackage the same exercises that everyone uses and lay claim to having created a new approach which will magically burn away the pounds and give you the body you have always dreamed of having.

Most of these info whatevers make more promises they can’t keep than the average corrupt politician, they are the snake oil salesmen of the electronic age. One of their favorite ploys is to make a bad use of good science turning the legitimate term tonus into “toning” and taking the research on specific adaptation to imposed demand and promoting “muscle confusion” They promise longer leaner muscles knowing that muscle length is a function of the skeletal system and leanness is a product of both genetics and good nutrition. They promote the fat burning zone heart rate as the way to maximize fat loss knowing that while the phenomenon is true the number of calories used per unit of work is less than work done above that heart rate.

They use grandiose meaningless name for their workout programmes to entice people to purchase their products. “Muscle Confusion,” No More Trouble Zones,” Thirty Day Shred,” Insanity” and “Kettle Worx” are meaningless phrases to say nothing of bad grammar and syntax. They promote older, proven techniques as if they were newly discovered. Kettlebells are in the vogue now but photos of late 19th and early 20th Century workout facilities show racks of them. Indian clubs are “rediscovered” even though a 1866 copyrighted book on their use includes an endorsement by Ulysses S. Grant. The Pilates Reformer turns into the Total Gym and Total Trainer, suspension training is “developed” by an ex Navy Seal and sold as the “TRX System” The traditional bodybuilder technique of using dumbbells as hand holds for pushups to change the strain on the wrists morphs in to “The Perfect Pushup” Wall mounted cable machines were found in the fitness centres of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Circuit training which was developed as a strength workout using only strength exercises is repackaged with cardio components designed to “keep your heart rate elevated” notwithstanding the fact that traditional strength only circuit training has a cardio benefit. Keeping your heart rate elevated ignores the fact of the paradox that with cardio interval training the training effect occurs during the recovery and not the work phase. High repetition strength movements using mini weights are promoted as strength workouts which promote “toning” instead of the endurance workouts they are and despite the fact that toning does not exist. Body sculpting workouts can only be accomplished with a hammer, chisel and a piece of marble, human anatomy is a function of genetics.
Cardio burns fat is the mantra of the elliptical and treadmill hamsters and gerbils but the reality is that the only way to burn fat is to overcook your breakfast bacon. The body converts body fat to fuel after the stored glycogen is depleted. Cardio without strength work will cause the body to use protein as fuel instead of body fat depleting muscle and reducing the resting metabolism,

You can type and find all the information on the internet for free or you can buy into hype and reduce the fat in your checkbook. The human anatomy has not changed since the time of the Cro Mangon people and how to get strong and fit has not changed since the earliest written records recorded the information. While there are new, expensive and space hogging machines in fitness centres the biomechanics of exercise have not changed even if some of the machines defy normal body mechanics with the movements they require,

KISS is not just the name of a defunct rock band it also stands for Keep It Simple and Successful which is the key to a successful fitness programme. A weight loss programme is only the first step in a lifelong commitment to fitness which is what we owe ourselves and those who depend on us in our daily lives..
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I just wanted to say thank you for your detailed reply. I will be reading it in depth later, and may well have more questions!

    I love that you joined SP to share your knowledge with other people and give so much of your own time to help us. Please keep up the good work
    2799 days ago

    One problem I see with her workouts is the demand to maintain a high heart rate. The research has demonstrated that with interval workouts the training effect occurs during the recovery phase not the work phase and the short interval of ab work would not qualify for that effect. Another point is that if you are doing full body and compound movement exercises the need for dedicated core work is minimized.

    When a workout alternates between strength and cardio segments the quality of both are degraded. This type of workout has become common and misnamed circuit training. Circuit training is a series for strength exercises without any added cardio since the strength circuits supply a cardio benefit.Strength Tabata Protocol workouts are true circuit training.

    The only programme which I have found which combines strength and cardio is par cours which is done out of doors on a fixed course. These consist of a series of strength workout stations space a distance apart. You do the strength exercise then run to the next station to do another strength exercise. Designed for the military this type of workout is mission specific in that it replicates to some exte3nt the stresses which a soldier will confront in a combat situation.

    Three current bodyweight only programmes which are available are TacFit, Shape Shifter and TRX with TRX using suspension apparatus to increase the difficulty of the bodyweight resistance. I have videos of several different four minute bodyweight Tabata style workouts which are killers.
    2800 days ago
    I just wanted to say thank you again. I've been reading through many, many threads regarding the tabata protocol and how it works etc and it's a great tip.

    I know this isn't the best place to ask, but you mentioned the 30 day shred in your post and it was my previous mention of this that prompted you to suggest tabata based exercises....

    In the 30 day shred routine, you are meant to do 2 minutes of cardio (jumping jacks, jump rope, butt kicks etc) then 2 minutes of strength training (perhaps pushups, or squats with shoulder presses, static lunges with bicep curls) and finally 1 minute of abs work, which is your 'rest' interval in that it's less intense. With the cardio and strength, you're not meant to stop at all, and for no more than 5 secs if you really must.

    You just keep going for a total of 20 minutes, so that's 4 'circuits', plus a warm up and cool down. The point, says Jillian, is to keep moving, no matter how hard it is, because that is how you see results.

    Now what I was wondering, is, do you think that this is a routine that has it's basis in the tabata study, or perhaps the later Little study from 2009? It seems to work on the same principals, only over a longer interval. The exercises also seem to be similar to what you might use if you were using the tabata method: making sure you work the whole body as much as possible i.e. exercising the smaller muscles, in line with the larger ones.

    I understand your thoughts on the 30 day shred, but I was curious as to whether it had any effectiveness at all?

    Thanks again
    2801 days ago

    Thank you for the compliment on my writing, you honour me.

    Any and all misspellings are deliberate to ensure that I garner the attention of the reader.
    2804 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/13/2011 11:37:14 PM
    Well written as usual! The only advantage any of those programs may have is getting somebody to realize they need to do something. Other than that they are just hype.
    2804 days ago
    Very articulate and solid. (It's cro magnon, and I mention that only because, as an English prof., I applaud the rest of the blog as a stunningly well-written piece). I also like your expansion of KISS better than the usual.
    2804 days ago
    Good rant. Our anatomy and physiology has not changed so the basics really are the same as they have always been. But how do you create behavior change? If you can promote exercise in a 'new' and fun format, people will buy in.

    Haven't we forever told people to write down goals and chart their progress? It is a LOT more fun to write down exercise with a drop down menu on SPARK, get comments and feedback, and charts to show progression.

    We people are a funny animal.

    BTW--I still use Mark Vella for my exercise basics. I found the book through your recommendation a year ago. Thanks!
    2804 days ago

    Only 20?
    2804 days ago
  • DC2837998
    Drop & give me 20
    2804 days ago
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