Fitness Wisdom - a conflict in terms?!?!?
This article will be lengthy, and it might make you think..
Read it when you have some time. It will include my description
of a lunch with a Personal Trainer in Las Vegas, my conversation
with a woman who I know is about to achieve the fitness result
she's been striving for, and a description of my brand new 21-Day
Journey to Excellence. These will all come together to reveal
the flaws in conventional fitness and weight loss "wisdom."
been warned. Read at your own risk . . . only if you're willing
to re-think many of the fitness and weight loss ideas you believed
to be absolutes.
1: The coach and the trainer
had the opportunity to connect with a number of high school
and collegiate strength coaches, and while I'm aware there are
many great coaches, there are others who are stuck in unfounded
convention, believing things to be law simply because historically
others held the same beliefs. You'd think that with the sophistication
of professional sports, coaches at the professional level would
all be experts in improving athletic performance, but on a recent
Sunday, sitting at a restaurant in Las Vegas, I learned that
even at the pro levels some coaches are crippled by primitive
discuss the Las Vegas lunch in a moment, but allow me to first
point out that "convention" is perhaps a plague that's
facilitating that snowballing decline of American health and
well being. Statistics are growing increasingly alarming, and
solutions are so elusive it's no wonder so many throw in the
proverbial towel. People reach a point where they're willing
to have gastric bypass surgery, to ignore the warnings on stimulant
weight loss products, and where they're willing to purchase
controlled drugs from laboratories cranking out who-knows-what
because some web sites promise discount weight loss drugs. These
are acts of desperation, and desperation is the by-product of
learned helplessness. The saddest part of all is, nobody is
helpless, at least not unless they choose to be. With the right
technology of change, anybody, and I mean anybody, can bring
about gradual and ongoing physical improvement.
back to Vegas. I was at the IDEA World Conference, invited to
speak to fitness professionals about changing the existing paradigm,
about shifting to an approach where fitness centers educate
and empower rather than simply sell memberships. I received
an e-mail from an accomplished Personal Trainer who had run
into an ethical issue and he asked if we could meet.
he arrived for lunch, the Personal Trainer, I'll call him Barry,
held in his hand the "training manual" for a professional
team. Barry was confused, frustrated, and furious, and I don't
blame him. A
professional athlete, a member of the team for which the manual
was created, came to Barry in the off-season with expressed
hopes of improving agility and power. This pro athlete was determined
to have his best season ever the following year, as a contract
negotiation was impending. Barry began showing me through the
manual and I was shocked. With Barry's permission, I'll reprint
some of the chapter headings (I promised not to name names so
please don't ask me the name of the team or of the athlete).
to the manual . . .
continued to chat, I continued to type, and as the plane touched
down onto the runway at West Palm Beach International Airport,
I decided I'd write this article, outlining some of the points
that make my new 21-Day Journey to
Excellence effective, dedicated to her. Luisa, this article's
for you. I can't wait to hear of the changes you bring about
by throwing convention to the wind and turning exercise into
productive, result-oriented play.
3 - Convention Shattered
Exercise Burns Fat, Weight Training Builds Muscle - this
is a long-held belief. It is inaccurate at best. It might be
better rephrased as, "if all of the other vital elements
of the necessary synergy are in place, you very well might burn
fat during your aerobic exercise sessions, and it's possible
some of that fat may come from adipose stores. It's also possible
that the weight training stimulus, assuming intensity and frequency
are sufficient, may ask the body to take ingested protein and
synthesize new muscle tissue." OK, maybe that sounds a
bit complex, but the belief that "aerobic exercise burns
fat" is flawed.
time you're in an aerobic state, which means any time you meet
oxygen demand (like, right now) your body is capable of burning
fat as fuel, but it also has the ability to burn glucose, and
in most physiological states glucose is more accessible. Aerobic
exercise is a piece of the puzzle, but if you rely on it for
your fat burning you'll wind up disappointed.
"weight training builds muscle" part of the statement
infers that the act of lifting weights is a direct precursor
to muscle development. Weight training is simply the stimulus.
Other factors must be in place. You must have adequate nutrient
intake and adequate recovery for the stimulus to result in muscle
statement further infers that if you want fat loss, weight training
isn't important, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Weight training is not only the stimulus for building muscle,
it's also the stimulus for maintaining muscle. As we age, unless
we intervene, metabolisms slow at the rate of 2% - 3% per decade.
Maintaining muscle is a key to maintaining metabolism with chronological
advancement. In other words, neglect weight training and keeping
the body efficient at maintaining desired body composition becomes
an ever-increasing challenge.
Need at Least 48 Hours to Recuperate (or you Catabolize Muscle
Tissue) - in most gyms you'll hear this conversation with
this idea circulating in conventional circles that you can't
exercise the same muscles two days in a row. Next time you see
a muscular construction worker, ask him whether he gives his
deltoids 48 hours to recuperate. If he's lifting cement blocks
every day, the answer is, no! Yet his muscles are well developed.
Look at track and field athletes who sprint for speed. They
train on the track daily, working the glutes, the quads, and
virtually all of the muscles of the body, and their legs develop
impressive muscle. If you are going to subject yourself to a
conventional "sets and reps" workout, where you're
pushing against resistance every day, unless you're extremely
well conditioned, any level of intensity will leave you overtrained
. . .but nobody's suggesting conventional workouts. Remember,
convention is failing most people. Think of the frustration
Barry the trainer expressed when he felt he had to decide between
sticking to the "conventional" regimen this athlete
was used to, or breaking the mold and facilitating results.
I assure you, you can work the same muscles every day and see
a very impressive payoff.
- 12 reps for cutting, Max-out for building - "cutting?"
That suggests getting extremely defined, where muscle striations
are visible through the skin. The idea that some set amount
of repetitions burns cuts into muscles suggests a complete ignorance
of physiology. Definition is the result of well-developed muscle
and low bodyfat. You can't "burn" cuts into muscle
by performing a given number of repetitions.
far as "building," while it is true that greater resistance
is more likely to stimulate fast-twitch muscle fiber, the fiber
most responsive to growth, "maxing-out" with any regularity
is certain to put undue wear and tear on connective tissue.
It is also likely to impede recuperation and lead to stagnation
and/or injury. This "take-it-to-the-max" approach
to strength building may be good for the athlete ego in the
short term, but it is in all likelihood a major contributor
to the widespread low back, knee, elbow, and shoulder pain far-too-many
former athletes attempt to battle.
Have to Stick to the Program - No Matter What - This may
apply to androids and computers, but people? I suggest you strive
for perfection, but be thrilled by excellence, or even by a
step toward excellence. The idea that you must follow a regimen
perfectly dismisses the recognition that as humans we have impulses,
desires, moods, and hormonally directed thoughts, and if every
time we indulge in an action that may fall outside of the realm
of perfection, we've "blown" the program, few will
ever find any program effective.
Have to Give it 12 Weeks Before You See Results - this may
be based on conventional thinking, but conventional thinking
in this regard ignores "evidence." People who hold
a vision of a physical outcome use the mirror as a gauge, and
the mirror fails to show radical change from day to day. Out
of this limitation in the immediate responsiveness of the mirror,
the thought process that says, "just wait . . . give it
12 weeks" came to pass. The reality is, when you apply
a sound technology of change, you can see results in days .
. . you just have to know what to look for!
Calories Are Created Equal - Cut
Calories to Lose Weight -
Cutting calories below the body's metabolic need will result
in weight loss and that weight loss will bring with it metabolic
slowdown due to alterations in lean body mass and endocrine
function. All calories are absolutely NOT created equal.
of this question as an extreme example to illustrate the point.
If you were to consume, for an entire year, 2500 calories per
day made up of solely peanut butter cups and whipped cream,
would your body look and feel the same as it would if you were
to consume 2500 calories per day from a nutritionally balanced
combination of natural foods?
foods are more "thermic" than others, which means
some foods will cause your body to burn more calories in the
act of digestion. Resting a weight loss program upon a focus
on caloric intake is a part of the reason the diet industry
is so successful. People keep returning to diets because each
diet leaves them with yet a greater weight loss challenge.
Your Aerobic Exercise First to Warm up the Body - it's true
that "warming up" by increasing blood flow has a solid
foundation in exercise practice, but if the goal is muscle gain
or fat loss, doing an intense aerobic session prior to doing
resistance exercise may actually leave you in a state where
the body wants to cannibalize muscle and cling to fat!
Exercise on an Empty Stomach - The food you ingest today
can be your fuel for tomorrow, so if you "fuel up"
with frequent nutrient dense meals, the muscles and the liver
hold enough glycogen to handle an early morning workout before
any new food requires the digestive tract to compete with the
muscular system for blood flow. I'd even say there is a slight
metabolic advantage for some to exercising on an empty stomach
Eat at Night if you Want to Lose Weight - remember, supportive
meals are "thermic" and aside from providing amino
acids for the body to synthesize new tissue while you sleep,
this evening's meal will ask you body to "work" digesting
while you sleep. Going long periods of time without food (i.e.
from 5 PM until breakfast time) can cause metabolism to slow
and can lead to blood sugar irregularities optimizing the hormonal
environment for fat storage.
4: The Realities Inherent in The 21-Day Journey to Excellence
it wasn't until I started challenging convention that I started
really developing an enviable track record in bringing about
consistent physical change. It stands to reason that if we're
in a society where more than 60% of our population falls under
the heading of overweight, convention isn't working, so today
I find it odd that so many are so tightly bound to outdated
and flawed ideas. My most recent program takes people through
21 days. There isn't any magic in the number, but there is magic
in the process. By integrating ideas and methodologies that
work to increase protein synthesis, enhance recuperative ability,
optimize the efficiency of the heart and lungs, increase performance
output, and increase to boost metabolism and mobilize fat, I've
created a "system" that can help anyone find the path
the race to physical greatness is the result of pursuing a process
of small steps, unconvention steps, steps that become increasingly
easier even as challenges and workloads may be greater. Here
are some of the ideas that challenge convention, yet stand as
cornerstones of my program:
than thinking of aerobic exercise as "fat loss exercise,"
we treat aerobic exercise as a modality for improving oxygen
delivery, cellular transport, and blood flow . . . and fat loss
is a welcome side effect. Since nutrients are carried to
the cells, and waste products (including mobilized fatty acids)
are carried from the cells via the bloodstream, moderate aerobic
exercise makes the machine work more efficiently. The 21-Day
Journey asks you to think, not of the treadmill burning fat,
but of the body being able to release fat virtually all day
long . . . anytime you're meeting oxygen demand. The exercise
regimen serves to stimulate change, and the body experiences
that change while you sleep, drive, think, and relax. This understanding
of foundational physiological principles allows you to find
clear benefit from moderate, short duration, aerobic exercise
strategicallly performed after muscle glycogen stores are depleted.
While you are capable of burning fat all day long, and you shouldn't
think of aerobic exercise as "fat burning" exercise,
this strategy, as a welcome side-effect, increases the body's
willingness to offer up stored fat as fuel during an aerobic
OK to fall - NOBODY is expected to stick to the program 100%
- I teach people that deviations from the plan are a part of
human nature, and we have to embrace those elements of personality
that allow us to separate ourselves from machines, to enjoy
extreme pleasure, and to step away from regimentation at times
to find great emotional payoff in being the least bit naughty.
If you adopt the right mindset, that it's simply about doing
better than you used to do, and that there's room to mess up
without "blowing it." You never feel as if you've
"fallen off" the program.
notice "results" in 3 days, "see" results
in 21 days - 3 days after applying the exercise regimen
and the supportive eating stragegy you'll find your energy increases
and stabilizes. That's clear evidence that blood sugar is becoming
stable (as opposed to the blood sugar roller coaster most Americans
are on). Energy and blood sugar levels are linked. Thus, energy
and fat release are linked. When blood sugar levels become stable,
the pancreas begins consistent output of the hormone glucagon,
a hormone that allows stored fat to leave the cell and enter
the bloodstream. That means 3 days after you begin you have
evidence that "it's working." After 21 days, if fat
loss is a goal, I guarantee you'll see clothes fitting differently,
the scale will become your friend, and a comparative "after"
photo will be indisputably different than a pre-program pic.
is OK, at times, even desirable, to work the same muscles two
days in a row - remember, the body responds to "a new
stimulus," and if convention says to divide the body up
into parts, I say it's time to treat the body as a whole, as
an incredible mechanism that allows muscular systems to integrate,
coordinate, and act in harmony. In the 21-Day Journey you begin
with six (6) functional movements, six movements that when put
together accomplish the muscle stimulation you'd get from working
your way through every machine in a 15-machine "circuit."
By working the muscles in a similar manner on simultaneous days
you develop new biomotor habits, and what once seemed a no-no
becomes a key to new improvement.
long as you provide a new stimulus, exercise sessions can be
only 15 minutes long - there's no reason to perform excessive
exercise. In fact, exercising beyond the body's proven ability
to recuperate adds to stress levels, can cause the adrenals
to crank out excesses of cortisol, the stress hormone, and can
do more harm than good. When people realize, along the way,
that exercise sessions can be modest in duration, their sense
of potential skyrockets and the results are soon to follow.
don't starve . . . you never starve - the 21-Day Journey
emphasizes the importance of supportive eating, of fueling the
body, supplying adequate nutrients for the development of new
healthy cells, and for eating in a manner that makes the body
more efficient at burning through calories. Nutritionally, by
avoiding the starvation associated with diets, you literally
stoke the furnace and kick metabolism into high gear.
cheat . . . in fact, it's a responsibility!!! -
The "Cheat Day" is not about permission as much as
it's about balance. While conventional diets make a point of
telling what you can't have, cravings, social situations, and
exposure to less supportive offerings lead far too many to abandon
their regimented diet and exercise programs. When you allow
for a periodic "Cheat Day," you find it effortless
to pass up foods knowing you'll be able to indulge without guilt
in a day or two. Over time, when you are allowed the indulgences,
they become less important, and you begin to create clear distinctions
between how you feel when you eat supportively and how you feel
when you "cheat." The ability to cheat without guilt
makes adherence simple.
don't need anything - despite what advertisers say - You
don't need any equipment at all as you can perform exercises
that use your own bodyweight to provide resistive challenge
and any locomotion, walking, jogging, or even moving forward
against water resistance can bring about an aerobic training
effect. Ideally people following my 21-Day Journey to Excellence
will utilize a stability ball, a medicine ball, a light pair
of dumbbells, and some elastic tubing. They aren't "needs,"
simply options, and affordable options at that.
result-oriented program is going to rely upon a synergistic
combination of the three vital elements - I've learned that
the foundation of "what works" is the synergistic
application of three elements, and if any one of the three is
missing results will be elusive. My programs all educate people
in the vital combination of the right nutrition, moderate aerobic
exercise, and a concern for muscle.
Follow convention and wind up just like everyone else.
probably isn't a place you want to be when you look at the statistical
decline in the health of our population. Break the rules a bit,
open your mind to some new ideas, and through application of
some now-proven strategies you'll find the path to physical
greatness is shorter than you might have expected!
you want to know more about the 21-Day Journey to Excellence,