The Essence of Exercise
Posted September 08, 2023 by Matthew Romans
Fitness people often overcomplicate things with stuff that truly doesn't matter. This is typically because they lack knowledge and will do anything for pure financial gain. I have said this before, but the commercial exercise world is very much centered on trends and what is popular this year. When one craze eventually burns out, it is usually recycled in a slightly different fashion a few years later and repackaged as some "revolutionary" idea. I'm all for trying to improve and do things better, but for the most part when it comes to exercise there isn't much new under the sun. Forget all of this nonsense about "core-strengthening", "fat-burning", or getting into a target heart rate zone. This stuff is just window dressing put forth by people who are trying to sound like innovators when they really are not. The true essence of exercise is muscular inroad.
Ken Hutchins, the creator of the Total Results exercise protocol and builder of most of the machines in our studio, was the first person to truly define the term exercise. He defines exercise as, "...A process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety, meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength levels within minimum time." There must be a sound and logical system in place in order to achieve optimum physical improvements. The human body is a logical entity, and all body processes occur as a result of specific actions. Just performing any type of nondescript activity on a whim is not going to get it done. Contrary to what the muscle magazines tell you, "muscle confusion", "instinctive training", and "changing it up" are not successful long-term strategies. Exercise should be a logical process rather than instinctive. Most of us, left simply to our instincts, would not perform on our own something as demanding as a Total Results workout. Arbitrary activity is insufficient.
Exercise, simply put, is about muscular strengthening. Other meaningful physical improvements such as flexibility, cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and resistance to injury occur as a result of working to increase your strength. The skeletal muscles are the "engines" of the body; if we happen to feel cold, what is the quickest way to get warm? The answer is to perform some type of movement, and our skeletal muscles control our volitional movements. Skeletal muscle is the one type of tissue that plays the greatest role in determining our body shape. While the heart is certainly an important muscle, the only way to improve cardiovascular conditioning is to perform mechanical work with the skeletal muscles. This happens to a slight degree when we perform steady-state activity (jogging, biking, etc.), but those activities require a low level of effort, hence the ability to engage in those activities for lengthy periods of time. People often spend hours every week slaving away on a bike or an elliptical trainer, and for what? Sure, it might be a form of recreation for some, but will likely produce very little lasting positive change and will put you at risk for an overuse injury. If you are serious about creating significant physical improvements, you need to strength train.
Many people pursue all kinds of different activities for the sake of fat loss. It must be understood that no form of activity, whether it's a Total Result workout or anything else, burns a significant amount of calories when you consider what you can consume in a very short period of time. Exercise is not simply about burning calories, so why waste time and effort on an activity that provides very little return on your investment? Fat loss is almost exclusively a dietary issue, not just in terms of how much you eat but what types of foods you eat and their hormonal impact. Total Results exercise in and of itself is not a fat loss program, but working to build muscle aids greatly in terms of reducing body fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, which results in greater caloric expenditure even when you aren't doing anything other than being alive! The body, by nature, is resistant to change (homeostasis) and wishes to conserve its resources whenever possible. It needs a powerful reason, something that is interpreted as an existential threat (reaching muscular failure) in order to create positive and lasting physical changes. A Total Results workout is just the stimulus you need to make physical adaptations. If you consistently put forth a great effort you will make changes you did not think were possible, provided you meet your body's requirements for sleep, food, nutrition, stress management, and do not overtax yourself with too much additional activity.
The essence of exercise is muscular inroad: fatiguing the musculature deeply and efficiently enough to stimulate a growth mechanism. Arbitrary and haphazard activity isn't enough to accomplish this; you need a systematic plan. Keep in mind that exercise is not a cure-all; it will not be enough to overcome poor personal habits. It won't eliminate every single ache or pain that you have; some physical discomfort occurs as a result of aging with even the most disciplined people. What it can do for you is to enable you to live your life with more energy, less pain, and will help you to steer clear of the medical establishment. Total Results exercise, along with sound personal and dietary habits, can help you get more out of life than you can imagine. It's not complicated, but it works.