Steve Maxwell, age 56

This is a great article from my colleague Steve Maxwell, who at 56 years old is in better shape (and I mean true genuine, functional fitness, not just appearance / bodybuilding nonsense) than most of us could ever dream to be.

In this article Steve explains in detail why performing too much aerobic activity is counter productive and can actually be bad for you. In fact, he gives us ten very compelling reasons why he doesn’t do any aerobics himself.

There’s a group of individuals I have come to refer to as “over aerobicisers”.  In my many years of experience as a personal trainer and coach I’ve run into many people who are addicted to their aerobic activities.  And the more they do the better. There’s often a pattern for many where they evolve from casual joggers into marathoners and triathletes. I keep seeing this more and more with adults over age forty as well. In my observation there’s also been a pattern that they share. It’s not completely consistent, but generally these are some of the common traits.

– Are happy with their scale weight.

– Look good in clothes, but they have fat deposits in places they can’t get rid of.

– Crave starchy carbs and justify eating them because they believe they can burn off the extra calories.

– The women prefer not to wear bathing suits, especially the two-piece styles.

– Are frustrated as to why more aerobic activity is not working for them.

– Love the way they “feel” from their time spent running, biking, or swimming.

– Feel “off” when they can’t run, bike, or swim.

– Are very often resistant to the idea of changing their fitness program to one focused on resistance training without their aerobic activities.

In my fitness programs we’ve always focused on “muscle first”. But if strenuous exercise is too challenging for you, I recommend walking as a great way to burn fat, especially if you have the time.

So, if you perform a lot of aerobic activity, and in spite of it you’re still fat, please read what Steve Maxwell has to say in the article below. And you just might want to pass this on to some of your friends too!

Press on!



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10 Reasons Why I Don’t Do Aerobics
By Steve Maxwell

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. (Editor’s Note: *Sisyphean task – This phrase describes any seemingly interminable or impossible job.)

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?

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,
Steve Maxwell

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