Truth and Ethics in Exercise
Posted April 28, 2017 by Matthew Romans
Fads in the commercial fitness industry tend to be short-lived. Since its inception in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the commercial fitness industry has seen many fads come and go, such as dance aerobics classes, functional training, and cross-training (those of us that are old enough can remember Nike's cross-training ad campaign featuring Bo Jackson and Howie Long in the late 1980s). To most of the American Public, it's very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, to understand what is true and what is false as far as exercise is concerned. Most fitness philosophies (and nutritional philosophies, for that matter) mislead you with false promises and unrealistic expectations. Because of this, it's no wonder so many people wind up frustrated and disillusioned, or worse, injured as a result of their commercial fitness experience. Because of our commitment to truth and science, I would like to contrast the Total Results/High Intensity Exercise philosophy with four other philosophies found in the commercial fitness industry.
CrossFit - This form of training has gained in popularity over the last decade. There are even competitive games broadcast on television dedicated to elements of this type of training. CrossFit involves performing ballistic calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, and very fast strength training/body weight exercises. You can go on You Tube and watch demonstration workouts, as I have. The risk of injury in this type of training is very high. CrossFit violates principles of safety, physics, and motor learning. The bottom line is that unless you are training specifically to compete in the CrossFit games, or are a competitive Olympic-style lifter (more on this later), there is no sane reason to participate in this type of activity.
Orange Theory - In the interest of full disclosure, there is an Orange Theory studio located just down the street from our Total Results facility, so that's what prompted me to research them. Orange Theory incorporates elements of steady-state activity, ballistic resistance movements, body weight exercises, functional training, and aerobic dance. On their website and marketing materials, they mislead you into thinking that you can burn between 500-1,000 calories during one of their workouts, which is virtually impossible. They also say that you keep burning calories for up to 36 hours after a workout. Even if exercise were simply about burning calories (which it is not), they fail to take into account the amount of calories burned due to one's basal metabolic rate. Since Orange Theory's methodology (if you can call it that) has a high risk of injury due to its high volume and disregard for speed of movement, it violates principles of safety, principles of motor learning, and shows a complete and utter ignorance of how the body's metabolism works.
Olympic Weight Lifting - This philosophy is very prevalent in athletics. Boyd Epley, who is the long-time head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Nebraska, was the first to popularize this philosophy at the collegiate level, and most other collegiate and professional programs have followed his lead. Some Olympic lifting exercises include power cleans, squats, and the clean-and-jerk. Simply put, Olympic lifting is very skill-oriented and involves mostly throwing and catching of extremely heavy weights, thus placing a significant force on the muscles, connective tissues, and joints. Any professional who is responsible for the safety and well-being of a client/athlete that utilizes this approach is guilty not only of scientific ignorance, but also guilty of malpractice, in my opinion. In addition to a high risk of injury, there is very little effective muscular loading involved due to the high-force nature of the activity. Unless you are a competitive Olympic lifter, there is no rational reason to perform this type of weightlifting.
Aerobics Philosophy - The leader of the Aerobics movement was Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who is an M.D. and former Air Force colonel. His philosophy exploded in popularity in the late 1960s following the release of his book Aerobics in 1968. The aerobics philosophy was built around the use of the VO2 Max test; this is where his philosophy runs into problems. The test was originally designed to measure the minimum oxygen uptake of comatose patients; it was later to be used to measure the maximum oxygen uptake of people running on treadmills. VO2 Max has been completely invalidated; as Dr. Doug McGuff has stated, one's VO2 Max is about 90 percent genetically predetermined. Dr. Michael Pollock, who conducted more studies involving VO2 Max than anyone, admitted to Ellington Darden, PhD, that the VO2 Max test wasn't a valid test of anything. It's also important to understand that one cannot separate the aerobic metabolic pathway from the anaerobic metabolic pathway. Depending on the intensity of the activity you are performing, you may use a greater degree of one pathway than the other, but never is one completely shut off at the expense of the other. Not only does the aerobics philosophy contain a high rate of injury (both acute and overuse), it is founded on bad science.
Total Results/High Intensity Exercise philosophy is the only exercise philosophy that is congruent with the traditional hard sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, and concepts of motor learning). We are the only exercise practitioners that are conscious of the importance of proper head/neck position, avoidance of unilateral loading (particularly in the entry/exit of each machine), and the avoidance of Val Salva (breath holding). We utilize a safe, slow speed of movement, with an emphasis on avoidance of undue acceleration and careful change of direction. Our workouts are brief, infrequent, and intense, and we keep detailed records of every workout. Regulation of exercise volume and frequency are paramount. We stimulate the body to adapt, and then allow you to reap the benefits.
We are always searching for a better way. A day may eventually come when we are proven wrong, but this philosophy has been around for almost 40 years, and it's still just as rational today as it was back then. We'll continue to improve as instructors to keep giving you the safest and most efficient workout possible.