Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is It Time to Re-think Cardio?

Fellas, the wifey and I are in the process of moving, so I'll finish up my story about Willy next week. Nevertheless, I wanted to leave you guys with a blog post from one of my personal health and fitness heroes: Steve Maxwell.

He is a physical and conditioning educator, who has been in the fitness and martial arts fields for over 40 years! As you can see from his physique, this brother knows what he's talking about.

Oh, did I mention that he's

OK, pick your jaw up off the floor and read the 10 top reasons why he does not do aerobic exercises. This was taken from his blog, and I encourage you guys to check out his website too.


I spend my days at a corporate gym. It's a sweet gig and a temporary livelihood.

One morning, while observing a female member endlessly running the treadmill-to-nowhere-fast, I realized I see the same people returning day after day, iPods silently blaring or, worse, mindlessly captivated by one of the ten wall-mounted television screens, while grinding away on those steppers and treadmills.

The drudgery of their Sisyphean tasks compels their attempts to lose self-awareness by inundating themselves with external stimuli. Often, their bodies reflect this lack of self-awareness in skewed gaits and other imbalances.

These same people come in religiously to get the feel-good fix, believing somehow their mindless, movement addiction is in some way benefiting them. Interestingly, they stay fat, show no progress, and sometimes even get fatter, especially after holidays. Most of these people are loathe to touch a weight, much less engage in any kind of productive strength-training. You see this same phenomenon in gyms all over the country.

Some will say, "Well, some exercise is better than none,"

But I say, if you're going to spend the time, why not produce something worthwhile?

Here are ten reasons why I don't do aerobic exercise:

But first, what is aerobic exercise? Any steady state locomotion elevating the heart rate into the zone for twenty minutes or more. The zone is determined by formulas based on age and resting heart rate.

Now, ten reasons why it not only doesn’t work but is a poor use of exercise time:

  1. Oxidative Stress
    Which causes a breakdown of tissues. It also predisposes one to cancer and heart attack.

  2. Elevated cortisol production
    Which causes a breakdown of muscle tissue and increases fat storage or depot fat. People do aerobics to alleviate stress yet end up creating more stress.

  3. Lowered testosterone and HGH levels
    For men, aerobics are a form of chemical castration. Low T-levels are associated with lowered libido, depression, anxiety, increased body fat and decreased muscle tissue. This contributes to muscle-wasting and lowers the basal metabolic rate.

  4. Increased appetite and a tendency toward binge eating patterns
    Aerobic exercise makes people hungry!

  5. Excessive Muscular Fatigue
    Making it difficult to do other more productive forms of activity. Aerobics creates muscular weakness.

  6. Conversion of fast-twitch muscle fibers to slow-twitch
    The loss of fast-twitch muscle fibers contributes to aging and the loss of explosive power and speed. People become slower and slower.

  7. Burns a relatively small amount of calories vs. the time spent
    One large meal completely offsets the pitiful amount of calories burned in an hour aerobics session.

  8. Overuse injuries to the feet, ankles, and knees from excessive, continual force transmitted throughout the body
    This is exacerbated by over-engineered running shoes which cushion the feet in such a way to create a neural amnesia.

  9. Shortening i.e., deformation, of the muscle tissue from repetitive mid-range (partial range) movements
    This creates inflexibility, immobility, and muscle imbalances. Besides being tight, the bodies postural alignment becomes compromised. Aerobics create tight, inflexible bodies that are in chronic pain.

  10. Adrenal burnout
    A consequence of the “feel good” neurotransmitters which also stimulate the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the fight or flight hormone. Excessive adrenaline creates an addictive response and people going routinely for the so called “high” of running end up with adrenal burnout, e.g., chronic fatigue and depression.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the father of aerobic exercise (and the person who coined the term) completely recanted his assertions regarding aerobic exercise. After observing a disproportionate number of his aerobic-enthusiast friends die of cancer and heart disease, he reversed his ideas on the benefits of excessive aerobic exercise. He now claims anything in excess of 20 minutes has greatly diminishing returns. In fact, he's now an advocate of scientific weight training.

In strength and health,


I have always hated doing cardio even though I owned a club quality elliptical machine, which I used on and off when I first started my weight loss journey. The thought of getting up only to spend 30-45 minutes doing the same motion over and over was very uninspiring to say the least. Once I started working out with kettlebells, I came across Mr. Maxwell and other physical culturists who wrote about the diminishing returns of doing too much cardio. I'm happy to say that I've made the most dramatic changes in my physique through proper nutrition, anaerobic exercises (read: weight resistance training), and HIIT (high intensity interval training), so I couldn't agree more with what Steve is saying here. However, not everyone agrees with his view on aerobics as you can read in this one Judo discussion forum thread about Steve's blog post.

OK, so I'm really interested in hearing your views on his points. So, please feel free to post a comment and/or vote in the poll to the left.

Keep working out guys and new pics are coming soon . . .


Tara said...

I personally have always agreed with this, but I also think that it depends on the individual.
It seems like people who do better on low carb diets also usually do better with strength training.
But some people cannot handle eating as much fat and protein, and do better with aerobics.
I definitely an NOT an aerobic person, so I'm glad the word is getting out about this.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Thanks for your comment Tara, and I can definitely understand where you are coming from. I just wished that more of the folks who can't tolerate protein and fat as much as some would really look into using whey protein shakes to supplement their solid foods. Then, I think they'll do just as well with strength training as low carbers ;)

Tara said...

Mr. Lowbodyfat, where are ya?

Are you still busy moving?
Congrats on the new place.

I need your advice on how to support my boyfriend as he tries to lose weight.

I am losing weight and my success inspired him to cut carbs, but I want to give him more hope that he will succeed.

He has been down on himself about his weight for so long.
He used to be all buff and hot back in the day.

I showed him your pics, and I think it made him feel more hopeful.

Any tips would be appreciated.


Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Hi Tara. Email me kujifikiria~gmail.com

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

Good stuff. Maxwell is a great example of how to train for strength and fitness.


Mr. LowBodyFat said...

You can say that again Craig. Thanks for you comment, and you have a great site. Keep up the good work, and I plan on picking up your book soon!

Dana Seilhan said...

I think he's got a point, I mean, if you think about it, back in prehistoric times we wouldn't have spent a lot of time jogging or dancing. Running would have been in short bursts and dancing was largely ceremonial, as far as we can tell.

I wonder if you really do need to do aerobic exercise to keep your heart healthy, though, as was also claimed, or whether simply following a healthy diet will do it for you.

lefty said...

I think that post left aerobic excercise looking like a bad guy.

Hypothetical scenario:
A buff, ripped bodybuilder who is averse to aerobic excerise is walking down the street, when suddenly a lean, but nonetheless muscular man (who happens to train for the 800m dash) lifts his wallet and bolts off. Bodybuilder attempts to give chase, but the 800m runner if far too fast and his stamina is much too great for the bodybuilder, who is left gasping and clutching is chest after several hundred metres at a pace that the fitter man could have maintained for 10 minutes.

I would like to point out two things further:
1. Aerobic excercise does not have to be carried out indoors - one can run, hike, bike, or swim outdoors.
2. One of the specialised characteristics of human beings that sets us apart from many quadrapeds and consequently began our ascension to heights of great success as a species is our aerobic stamina. Most animals can easily outsprint even the fastest man over a short distance, but very few can run at a fair clip for hours at a time, as humans can. This characterisitc allowed primitive hunters to chase their faster-over-short-distances quarry unto exhaustion, and ultimately make the kill.