Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why “Cardio” Exercises Won’t Put You Into the Shape You Want to Be In

In order for a muscle to have the powerful effect in shaping the body, it has to be worked to a sufficient intensity to produce muscle failure in approximately 25-50 repetitions, or about a minute. Any exercise that does not produce this muscle “failure” in that time, is not of sufficient intensity to shape the body -- by producing contractions powerful enough to make a dramatically noticeable difference -- of the kind I‘ve described previously as possible, and which most people do not experience and therefore are discouraged by not getting that immediate “feedback.” Obviously, therefore, an exercise or activity that can be sustained for 30 minutes or more, cannot produce the quality of muscular contractions that would produce such a convincing body-shaping effect -- and that is why they need elaborate explanations and justifications of why they need to continue to do it everyday for a year before one can see any "visible" results.

Meanwhile, the quality and intensity of muscular contractions that do produce immediate "visible" changes in the body, is that which is attained and strived for by athletes training for bodybuilding competitions -- or just to look better. The mistake many make is thinking that that effect can be speeded up even further by adding more weights and therefore lowering the number of repetitions required to produce such muscle failure -- without realizing that the added weight may make the performance of the proper movement impossible, thereby nullifying such an advantage.

So the proper duration of any effective muscle-shaping/building exercise (movement) is one-minute, or about 25-50 repetitions until the muscle is totally exhausted and “fails” to be able to continue. Obviously, a "cardio" exercise that can be sustained nearly indefinitely -- does not produce muscle contractions of this quality and intensity sufficient to produce an immediate transformation (change) -- or a longer term one, for that matter. It is simply reinforcing the status quo -- or the shape one is in presently.

Most people do not embark on a fitness program to stay in the shape they are in presently -- but preferably want to change that shape into something more to their liking. That can be achieved easily -- once one is NOT distracted and diverted into exercises that cannot produce that effect -- while thinking that they can, on an “experts“ say so. Once one can achieve this effect, one doesn’t need any compelling scientific arguments for utilizing such practices daily -- because most people want to look and perform their best. Instantly -- if they thought it was possible and within their range of capabilities.

As most proficient “bodybuilders” take for granted, that is the “high” they get from their training -- this ability to induce a dramatic and instantaneous transformation -- that the best get better at effecting, while many others, will actually regress because of their improper understanding of what they are doing and their objectives.

Many will believe that simply using more weights (resistance) while lowering the number of repetitions will obtain better results -- without realizing that more resistance may merely make the "proper" movement difficult, if not impossible -- and it is the movement itself and not the resistance that is important. The properly performed movement actually produces its own resistance! That is because a fully contracted muscle, produces its own resistance to being contracted further -- while muscle contractions significantly below those thresholds, can be continued indefinitely, as is typical in most cardio exercises -- without producing dramatic, desired effects of instantly putting one into the shape one wants to be in.


At January 26, 2006 9:15 AM, Blogger Edward Ott said...

fantastic article than k you for posting it.

At January 26, 2006 10:15 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Powerfully effective exercise of this type therefore, must be be brief and limited -- as an indication that it is of the sufficient quality and intensity to produce failure (exhaustion) within 25-50 repetitions, or approximately one minute. An exercise that can be sustained for much longer, does not produce the quality and intensity of muscular contractions -- that will change the shape of the muscle as well as the body overall -- visibly, in the manner possible to anyone, even in their present “out-of-shape” condition.

Really gifted athletes in this way, take this for granted -- assuming that everybody experiences and understands this phenomenon, and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t experience the gratification they feel is so obvious. Physically gifted athletes have this greater “feedback’ loop that is hardwired into their genes; they don’t know anything else -- have never known anything else. It is inconceivable to them that everybody doesn’t have this superior neurological efficiency and intelligence.

About fifty years ago, the world’s greatest coaches stopped recruiting just on people’s expressed desire to be successful, their desire to be the best -- and first regarded whether one had all the necessary attributes naturally to give them a genetic advantage in the field of their ambition and interest. Such people have been so genetically advantaged and predisposed, that it is what they were born to do -- and would do it even if there weren’t any competition or rewards given for doing so because that is the fulfillment of who they are. That is the person they have to be; that is their destiny.

Most people are not as specialized -- or gifted with such an abundance of talent so as to have no choice. Mozart has to be Mozart. Newton has to be Newton. Leonardo hs to be Leonardo. Caesar has to be Caesar. Socrates has to be Socrates. Edison has to be Edison. That is who they are.

Because they make what they are doing seem so effortless and easy, others think what they are doing is effortless and easy also, and even that they are doing “nothing” -- which can be disastrous for imitators. Usually there is a systematic rigorous process which screens out the participants without at least some ability -- for their own good and safety, if nothing else.

In watching televised world class performances one is well-advised not to try everything one sees at home, without the proper supervision -- but for less than the spectacular and dangerous, one is well within their capacity to try to see and learn what one’s capacities are -- for which there will be no greater expert than one learns of themselves. After all, who really should be the greatest expert of who one is? The great counselors have always pointed out that the secret of all success, was to “Know Oneself” -- in this simple and obvious way. A lot of people have undoubtedly come along to make it a complex and complicated thing -- inaccessible and mysterious to the everyday man, robbing them of this ability to know themselves and ultimately, to be themselves, to the greatest extent possible.

That is what education should be about -- and not the abomination it has become.

At January 27, 2006 1:13 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Bodies, like organizations, try to maintain the status quo (homeostasis), rather than change -- so in order to stimulate growth, it has to be given a workload just beyond its normal capacity, requiring the body to adapt. If everything it is required to do falls comfortably within its range of present capabilities, it obviously has no need to change, to meet that challenge.

The typical life tries to minimize and eliminate those challenges in a mistaken quest for absolute and guaranteed certainty and security. Then every day is like every other day, and life, history, merely repeats itself -- having the same routines, the same conversations, doing the same rituals unvaryingly. Such a life and body deteriorates because its senses and responses are dulled. When faced with new challenges, it may go for years denying them -- and only after years of being battered and bruised by the new realities into insensitivity and numbness, come to accept them -- just as they are changing again and becoming the old and obsolete responses to evolving challenges.

Many people’s conditioning and education is to avoid failure at any cost -- rather than understanding that failure and how it can be the impetus for developing new capacity. Many “teachers” think that just frustrating the student is enough -- without developing that sensitivity to the fine line that separates success from failure. That is the sensitivity one has to discover; it’s not enough just to drop a refrigerator on a person and think in that way, they will get stronger for it.

With the proper critical understanding, it can be clear how one minute of exercise might be superior to one hour of exercise -- done without that proper understanding. Traditionally, a few people pick that up by themselves because they are particularly interested as their genetic predisposition. Most are not, and rely on “expert” opinion and advice to guide them.

Unfortunately, with professional status and rewards, many are now in it only for the money and not because they are gifted in that way, and all they know, is what somebody else has told them is the truth -- rather than their discovering it for themselves as any true master of a discipline must. In this manner, an entire discipline can be led astray by just one individual who rises to greater prominence and influence than all the others and is imitated rather than questioned -- to probe the depths of that understanding.

The field of physical education is particularly vulnerable to this kind of conformity because that is the tradition of its pedagogy -- one is simply told what to believe and to do, unquestionably. Then when a doctor or “institute” comes along to give it a stamp of approval and high standing, what was merely brute force and coercion before, becomes science and medicine. Yet with that new upgrade and seal of approval, the results are no different. The fitness industry is successful largely because it maintains the status quo -- with a lot of people who need to get into shape BECAUSE they aren’t, and won’t be with that understanding.

Once a person has these significant points brought to their attention, the need for extraordinary attention to being in shape disappears, along with many ways to exploit that kind of failure -- because he knows how to transform failure into success in a moment.

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