Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Critique of "9 Habits That Can Do More Harm Than Good": A Workout Routine That Does Not Include Stretching

As promised, the second suggestion that this article makes that I find sub-par is:

#5: Doing Only Cardio When You Work Out (I will paste here.)

"It’s easy to assume that the best way to lose weight is to stick to the same cardio workout, but “if you only do cardio, your body will become so accustomed to the routine that you’ll start to burn less fat over time,” says Joseph Ciccone, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist at ColumbiaDoctors Eastside Sports Therapy in New York. Plus, going through repeated motions on the treadmill or elliptical machine can create tight muscles and lead to injury. Trade in a few of your cardio workouts for circuit training, which involves doing a number of different strength training exercises with little rest between moves in order to keep your heart rate up while also working out your entire body, ensuring that you’ll burn the most calories—without burning out. Integrating resistance training into your routine will create muscle mass, which will help you burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re at rest, says Jennifer Fleischer, exercise and nutrition coach and owner of Holistic Fitness in San Francisco. She also recommends revamping your cardio routine by mixing in interval training once a week. Try doing 30 seconds of high intensity motion, whether you’re on the treadmill, elliptical machine or in the swimming pool, followed by 90 seconds of recovery at a moderate pace, working your way up to 10 repetitions. The bursts of intensity followed by recovery will effectively and efficiently blast calories and fat."

OK, I agree that doing only cardio when you work out is a major set-back; however, this article is missing something crucial. Circuit training (strengthening exercises with little rest to keep the heart rate up) and interval training (several repetitions of 30 seconds of high intensity motions followed by 90 seconds of moderate pace to recover) are suggested in place of cardio. This is all that is suggested.

The ironic part about this is that the physical therapist or the author (it is unclear who) claims that "...going through repeated motions on the treadmill or elliptical machine can create tight muscles and lead to injury." Yet, neither of these suggestions that are made really fix the "tight muscle" phenomenon because neither involves stretching. It sounds like both of the suggestions that were made are also strength-building activities, which do tend to lead to tight, stiff muscles.

So I recognize that simple stretching may not seem like much of a "workout routine," because most people don't think of it as very vigorous or challenging, and don't expect that it will "effectively and efficiently blast calories and fat," as this is stressed in the article.

I suggest to the author or the physical therapist who neglected to mention yoga to try attending an Ashtanga or Vinyasa class and tell me that it's not vigorous, or challenging, and does not have the capacity to not only stretch out those tight muscles that strength-training builds, but also "blast" that fat...

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