[Written by Mary, who has her own very fine blog Sheesh. Crabby is currently scheming to persuade Mary to hang out at Cranky Fitness and keep the Crab company].
Drop Acid? Wait a Minute...
Yes, this is a post about fitness. Or at least a rant about fitness. And I do remember the 60s. But I remember the 70s even more.
Thirty years ago, fitness was all about goofy-looking track suits and people dutifully jogging round and round a track until their legs fell off from boredom.
Twenty years ago, it was Jane Fonda and people deliberately wearing spandex until they felt the burn.
Ten years ago, it was Covert Bailey, and LSD* (long steady distance, also known as long slow distance) work that would promote fat-burning.
Now that's all passé. Yesterday's fitness. Today it's all about high intensity interval training: hit-the-body-with-a-quick-burst to promote fitness. In a way, this idea is a throwback to the concept that you have to feel it for the exercise to be any good. It's as if these ideas seem to cycle in and out of fashion.
This is not, not, not to say that interval training is a bad idea. Au contraire.
What I am saying is that The Merry objects to fitness being treated as if it were fashionable, something trendy. The press tends to trumpet the latest discoveries as if the scientists had re-invented the wheel, when in reality they haven't even re-invented the Krebs cycle. The basic principles of human biochemistry have been known for awhile now.
These approaches to fitness all work, to one extent or another. Even jogging around a track ad boredom does help the cardiovascular system up to a point. But a lot of people, including fitness experts (who should know better, except that they're usually promoting a book), seem determined to focus on one approach only, regardless of what works best for any one individual. We hold these truths to be self-evident: just because an expert is promoting a book, it doesn't mean the expert's approach will help with your specific goals. These different approaches should supplement each other.
Should you stop LSD and start HIITing yourself instead?
Both Long Steady Distance and High Intensity Interval Training can work to increase fitness. But they are not created equal.
If you're trying to increase your endurance, you want to increase your fat-burning capability. After two hours of steady cycling, your body is going to be relying on fat-burning to keep going.
Likewise, if you've been an obese, sedentary couch potato for years, long steady exercise sessions are a much more healthy approach than sudden intense exercise. If you're not in shape, HIIT would probably be a marvelous way to hurt yourself.
On the other hand, if you are in shape, HIIT could be the perfect way to work yourself off an annoying plateau, while LSD could make you bored out of your gourd. (Unless you want to be the next Lance Armstrong.)
It shouldn't be about the latest expert's theory of fitness.
It shouldn't be about the latest expert at all.
It should be about you.
* Okay, so LSD in this post doesn't have anything to do with acid, strictly speaking. It was a cheap, meretricious trick designed to make you look at the post, that's all. I'm deeply ashamed of myself. Opinions expressed by minions of Cranky Fitness do not necessarily represent the views of the womanagement.