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Living A God-Glorifying Life Through Good Health.
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When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was no obesity epidemic, and children were not developing old-age maladies such as heart disease. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and autism were virtually unheard of. Living a healthy lifestyle was a lot easier. More...

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Interval Training or Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion is the Key to Heart Health and Weight Loss

Is Cardio/Aerobics Dead?

Cardio is king--or so you would believe from its hundreds of thousands of devotees in gyms across America. Stationary bicycles and stairmasters are in constant use by members who spend countless hours every day pumping away, trying to lose excess weight which has crept on through the years.

This almost obsessive devotion to aerobics is shared by the John and Jane Does across America as well. You see them everyday jogging along the streets and in parks.

Aerobics or cardio is an integral part of today's bodybuilding scene too. While preparing for my last amateur show in 2001, my then training partner had a fit because I didn't want to do cardio. You see, we've been taught that in order to lose bodyfat successfully, you have to combine cardio with a sound nutritional plan.

I almost never did cardio not because I didn't think it was effective, but because I was afraid I would lose too much weight. I have always had a rather fast metabolism.

But today I have come upon an article which is making me rethink the whole cardio program. The science, studies, and logic behind it are hard to ignore.

Studies Prove There is a Better Way

Cardio is used as a method to: (1) drop excess weight and (2) build heart endurance/strength. But, isn't the heart performing its endurance task without a special exercise program? What is your age? Whatever it is means that your heart has been constantly pumping blood for those number of years--all without any stoppage!

Cardio will cause your heart, lungs, and muscles to physically shrink. It also destroys your lung and heart's reserve capacity.

Reserve capacity is necessary in times of a medical emergency such as an injury or physical trauma. It also is critical for severe emotional stress, or intense sex in the bedroom.

Reserve capacity means your heart has the ability to pump more blood, faster in times of stress. Reserve capacity for your lungs allows them to deal with high exertion like lifting, carrying, running or going up stairs.

Reserve capacity for your heart and lungs gives the following benefits:

  • Rebuilds Your Lungs - Even if you're an ex-smoker!
  • Reverses Heart Disease - And Prevents Heart Attacks
  • Adds Years - Even Decades - of Healthy Living to Your Life
  • Pumps Up Your Immune System - Making You Virtually Disease Proof
  • Builds Pounds of New Muscle - Without Lifting Weights!
  • Many studies show that a specialized type of training -- interval training--is what is needed for not only effective weight loss, but heart strength.

    Did you know that long-distance runners, marathoners for instance, suffer a higher risk of sudden cardiac death than any other athlete?

    Enter Interval Training or Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion

    Harvard researchers performed a study of exercise and cardiovascular health among middle-aged men. They looked at the health of those who performed cardio which is comprised of long duration exercise versus interval training which is a short but intense exercise program. The table below documents the results:

    Long-Duration ExercisersShort-Duration Interval Exercisers
    10% reduction of heart disease risk20% reduction of heart disease risk
    showed signs of heart distressimproved cholesterol levels
    increased blood & oxidation levels of LDL & triglyceridesmaintain healthy testosterone levels
    had elevated clotting levels & inflammatory factorshad maximal cardio output
    frequently discontinued exercise program due to boredomeager to continue exercising

    The results are astounding. Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion (PACE) or interval training or high intensity training (HIT), whatever you want to call it, excels in all categories. The men who exercised using interval training doubled their reduction of heart disease risk factors over the men who used the standard exercise protocol.

    The Flaw Behind Endurance or Cardio Training

    Endurance training or cardio does not prepare your body to respond efficiently to any sudden stress which may be placed upon it. This is the reason why heart attacks can happen when an intense effort is placed upon it.

    Exercising for long periods of time reduces the capacity of your heart, lungs, and muscles so that they can go longer using less energy. Your cardiovascular system becomes trained at handling a 30 or 45 minute jog or stationary bike ride. But it has no capacity to provide you with short, intense bursts of energy in an emergency. This actually makes your heart that much more vulnerable to a heart attack.

    Your body is a very efficient and adaptable marvel of creation. When you constantly train your body with endurance exercises, your body adapts and becomes more efficient. This efficiency manifests itself by shrinking your heart and lung capacity. This results in less fuel being used for the same amount of effort.

    In addition to shrinking heart and lungs, aging naturally shrink the capacities of these organs.

    What Is Interval Training?

    The essence of interval training is the application of short, intense bursts of exercise followed by a period of rest. The exercise program provides short bursts of challenges with rests in between to restore and preserve heart capacity. Years of declining heart and lung capacity can be reversed with the application of progressively greater effort for these short bursts.

    Interval training will provide the following:

  • Boost your lung capacity for increased endurance and disease resistance
  • Improve your heart's pumping ability for an ageless heart
  • Strengthen muscle and bone you thought was gone forever
  • Reverse the age-associated increase in fat around your middle
  • Return your strength and speed to youthful levels
  • During long-duration exercise such as cardio, fat is burned. This actually teaches your body to keep a supply of fat in reserve for the next exercise session. You're locked in a catch-22 situation. You do an hour's session of cardio to lose fat and your body makes more fat for your next cardio period.

    Cardio Versus Interval Training

    The following table shows how your body burns fuel under various levels of exercise intensity.

    .Protein CarbsFat
    Resting rate1 - 5%35% 60%
    Low intensity5 - 8%70%15%
    Moderate intensity2 - 5%40%55%
    High intensity2%95%3%

    The table is based on information derived from the book Sports and Exercise Nutrition. According to the numbers, the most fat is burned, 60 percent, when your body is at rest! How can this be?

    This amount of fat is burned after a session of interval training. This is the after-burn experienced by bodybuilders, sprinters, and other similar athletes. After-burn does not occur after a cardio session. The after-burn continues for up to 24 hours after interval training. Your body learns that it doesn't need this fat, so it stops making it.

    'As your body adapts to the demands placed upon it when you exercise, it replenishes your fat the next time you eat in preparation for the next endurance workout. In doing so, it sacrifices muscle to preserve fat. And high-intensity aerobic exercise won't keep your heart healthy the way many doctors and fitness "experts" say it will...' (The Stretching Handbook)

    Sources: Dr. Al Sears, MD
    Stretching Handbook

    Interval training and fast twitch muscle fibers

    > > Interval training