by Michael Hannon
(Rawai, Phuket, Thailand)
I’ve been a personal trainer for many years and have had the chance to observe my clients and gym members training. I’ve seen what works and what definitely does not. In fact my livelihood solely read on as you maybe pleasantly surprised and also for some have a eureka moment.
Exercise covers a broad spectrum of activities from walking, mountain climbing to yoga. But the one I am referring to is aerobic or more specifically prolonged, consistent, strenuous aerobic activities.
Prolonged, consistent, strenuous aerobic activities cover aerobic classes, spin, jogging etc performed longer than a six week period.
Now, ask yourself, are you one of the thousands of people that jump around, cycle and jog 4-5 times a week but still feel like they are impersonating Roseanne Arnold as opposed to Jane Fonda.
Read on and let me explain possibly why this is.
Aerobics equals fuel/fat efficient:
Ask yourself what burns more fuel, a fuel efficient car or an inefficient car. The answer is the inefficient car does. The body only cares about survival not you wanting to look good in a bikini and if you continue to expose it to extended efforts of aerobic work it will become better at using the main fuel source which is fat, by using less of it. Yes, less.
Aerobic work causes the body to become fuel efficient and as a result the longer you continue with this type of training the harder it will be for you to lose fat from your body.
What do you want to be a Ferrari (anaerobic) or a Volvo (aerobic).
We are not designed for it:
As Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin states “we are designed to throw a rock at the rabbit, not chase it”.
Cave mans movement activity was walking with intermittent bursts anaerobic activity such as hunting, climbing and fighting. They squatted to talk, eat and defecate, lunged over rocky landscape, pushed and pulled prey, bent to pick up rocks for building and twisted for throwing and sprinting to catch prey.
The human genome changes 0.001% every 100,000 years. Which means we have not changed much from our caveman ancestors. Cave men did not jog, prance or cycle around trying to lose a few lbs. They did what every human being was designed to do and that is walk, sprint, fight and climb. That is why if you are trained by a professional personal trainer you will certainly become acquainted with squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending and twisting. These are the movements that we are designed to do.
Doing anything otherwise is like trying to put the square block into the circular hole. It won’t work!
Learn from the smartest minds in health and fitness:
This may come as a surprise but these minds in which I’m referring, belong to wild animals and children.
Before you dismiss this, ask yourselves who are the most vibrant, energetic, positive, bright individuals that you know or have seen. Who else do you know will run down the street for no apparent reason other than to relieve themselves of access energy? When was the last time you had access energy that did not come in a cup or with a prescription.
Animals that live in accordance with nature, do not have diabetes, arthritis, need four Lattes with their blood pressure medication and pop Prozac to get up in the morning. They are vibrant, positive, mystical creatures that deserve our respect.
What you will notice is that if left to there own devices children and animals will naturally sprint, fight, crawl and climb.
Our closet descendants are the apes, and when was the last time your saw bubbles and his mates swing down from the tree, put on his tracksuit and jog. Never, there is a reason for that.
It is noteworthy to observe the animals with the slimmest waists are the animals that eat meat and perform in the most intense anaerobic activity, just like we are designed to do. The opposite is true for the more aerobic herbivores.
Real world examples:
The greatest, leanest physiques I have ever seen have come from rock climbers, martial artists, gymnasts, sprinters and weight lifters.
Aerobisisers are stereo typically chubby, weak tired looking people with a look of desperation in there eyes which is usually alleviated with a latte and cup cake.
While at one of the health centers I worked at, I and two other instructors had our fat% worked out with calipers. I used mostly weights as a form of training, the other was a professional break dancer/acrobat and the other swam, jogged, cycled and lifted some weights. The results came out as follows; I was 10%, the acrobat was 8% and the instructor who was perceived as the fittest because of all the aerobic work he did was 15%. This is not an isolated event; I have found it to be true with gym instructors and gym members. I cannot tell you how many aerobically fit flabby people I have met.
The representative for aerobics in America is Richard Simmons a frizzy haired, pale, chubby man. Even Jade Goodyear and Oprah Winfrey have performed the ultimate event in fitness, the marathon and with respect, I would not call them lean.
Burning fat is half the story:
It is not as simple as calories in calories out, we are a complex, holistic organism, whose physical, mental and spiritual well being has to be taken into account. Burning a little fat for ½ an hour is not even half the story.
Aerobic activity is prescribed on the basis that while working in your aerobic zones you are using fat as the primary fuel source. Though this is true, the story is much more complex than that. Yes you maybe using fat as the majority source of energy but once you stop so does the calorie burning. But with more anaerobic work such as sprints, weights, interval and resistance work you get much more. You can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, though this will be split between blood glucose and fat, improved lean muscle mass thus increasing your basal metabolic rate (calories burned just staying alive) and a mechanism known as Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption leads to an increase in metabolic rate for several hours after you have finished the session. Wow, still burning calories after the session has finished.
Aerobics and stress:
We live in stressful times. London just happens to be one of the most stressful cities in the world and as a result we as a whole release from our bodies more stress hormones than our grandparents did. Stress hormones have there place and our indeed important but once tipped over the edge negative things happen to our body. Excessive aerobic exercise has been linked to an excessive increase in stress hormones and a decrease in anabolic hormones. Symptoms of this our increased fat storage, especially for women around the abdominal area, the inability to lose fat in general, increased aging, tiredness, anxiety, headaches, lowered immunity, arthritis, difficulties concentrating, loss of short term memory and depression.
When people especially women generally feel tired or anxious, relief is usually found in a chocolate gateau, muffin a glass of wine. This does nothing to help with fat loss but that’s another article.
Find yourself an aerobics instructor that has been teaching 3-4 classes a week or more for many years, and what you will usually find is tired looking, chubby person who indulges into much caffeine and sugar. Now, find yourself a personal trainer who trains with resistance work in an anaerobic fashion and usually what you will find is a lean, positive, confident individual.
Gym members will usually perform between 30-60min worth of cardio followed by behaving like a cockroach on its back having an epileptic fit for 5mins (crunches), they will do this 3-5 times a week. If this is you, I’m here to tell you to change, as this is a counterproductive program that will lead to very little results if any and a host of physical, mental and spiritual disappointments including over time becoming fatter.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein
We are born with an innate knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. This knowledge is lost to indoctrination, fear, weakness and the requirements of modern society. Listen to your instincts not dogma.
Do you have a question for Michael Hannon? Michael has been passionately involved in helping people reach their health and fitness goals for 6 years. He specializes in achieving fat loss through resistance training and healthy eating habits.