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Cardiovascular Exercise

  • Should I Exercise Like They Do On The Biggest Loser?

    I was in a discussion forum today discussing The Biggest Loser, which is returning to Australian television shortly.

    As I have written about in the past, I do think that The Biggest Loser is an exceptional way to inspire Australian's to get up and be pro-active in achieving their health and fitness goals. The amount of awareness that this show has created within the general community about body-image and health is excellent.

    My biggest concern with The Biggest Loser are the exercise protocols that are implemented into these morbidly obese people's training regimes. Most of them, with very little training experience exercise vigorously, often performing extremely dangerous exercises. It's no wonder that injuries are extremely common on that show.

    So, the question is whether or not you should exercise like they do on The Biggest Loser. Unless you know what you are doing, have the doctor's okay, with a solid grounding in years of exercise and have been exercising vigorously recently, then it may be okay. But in all likelihood, if you are reading this article because you genuinely are unaware as to whether or not you should exercise like they do on The Biggest Loser, then the answer is no.

    No, you should not exercise in the same manner as these contestants because it can be unsafe, reckless, ineffective and outright dangerous to exercise in this manner if you:

    1. Do not know what you are doing
    2. Do not have the guidance of a trained exercise professional
    3. Have not obtained your doctor's approval
    4. Have any injuries or medical concerns
    5. Are limited in your exercise experience
    6. Have not exercised recently on a regular basis
    7. Have not trained at this level of intensity recently
    8. Don't like training in this manner

    There are some very serious health concerns with training at such intensity, especially if you are unfit and/or overweight, obese or morbidly obese. There are also very serious health concerns by rapidly losing large amounts of weight.

    Coming back to The Biggest Loser, keep in mind that this is a television show. It would not be entertaining to watch a bunch of contestants performing a typical gym workout. The producers need to make the television show exciting, and what better was to accomplish this than to push the contestants to their physical, mental and emotional limits? That's entertainment - but it's not necessarily the most effective way to accomplish a health and fitness goal.

    I have written extensively on this topic and if you are interested in finding out more specific aspects to possible dangers, I do recommend to read a couple of articles on the topic:

    Firstly read The Biggest Loser Australia which was a previous newsletter of ours that elaborated on these idea's I have presented in this post.

    After that, have a read of Yo-Yo Dieting, No-No Dieting which is a fairly comprehensive read of the dangers of rapid weight loss.

    Always remember that whilst losing weight may be important for your physical and emotional health, it is also very important to do so in a safe, sustainable and effective manner.

  • What is VO2max? - The Basics of Aerobic Fitness

    VO2max is term commonly thrown around by scientists and fitness enthusiasts. But it can be darn confusing if you have no clue what "VO2max" is!

    Vo2max refers to the maximum volume of oxygen that each kilogram of your body (on average) can process per minute.

    V: Volume
    O2: Oxygen
    Max: Maximum

    The units are mL/kg/min

    So, why is this useful? Well, the more oxygen your body can process, the fitter you are! Consequently, the higher your VO2max, the more efficiently your aerobic systems operate. This is one measure of fitness.

    In order to ascertain your VO2max, you can undertake a number of tests. One popular method is the beep test (AKA the 20m shuttle run test), which requires you to run between two lines (20m apart) at an increasing pace until you are unable to run any further.

    In our Beep Test Calculator you can input your score and this will calculate your VO2max.

    Your VO2max is greatly affected by the cardiovascular exercise that you regularly undertake. High intensity cardio exercise will have a far more profound impact upon your body's ability to process oxygen. In an article I wrote entitled "The Fat Burning Zone", I cited a study conducted by Tebata et al in 1996. Within this study, they found that a high intensity workout of duration 4 minutes had a 40% more profound impact upon VO2max than a lower intensity workout that was 15 times longer in duration (60 minutes in total)!

    Earlier this year, I was at a conference where I was presented with some of the latest research into VO2max. A review conducted by Shepard, R.J last year found:

    • Men's VO2max declines 5ml/kg/min each decade from age 20
    • Women's VO2max declines 5ml/kg/min each decade from age 35
    • This decline is primarily due to a decrease in inactivity and an increased body fat percentage
    • The first 8-10 weeks of training (brisk walking was considered) had a far more profound impact on VO2max than from weeks 12-52! In the first 10 weeks, VO2max improved by 12.9% from day one, whereas in a year VO2max improved 16.9% from day one.
    • Higher intensities yield greater VO2max gains
  • What Is Pilates?

    Pilates can have some profound benefits on core strength, flexibility and general body awareness. We discuss Pilates in detail and entertain the question "What is Pilates?".
  • High Intensity Non-Gym Workouts

    Don’t have time to go to the gym, or don’t have access to a good one in your neighbourhood? You can get an extraordinarily good workout without the need to set foot in a gym at all.
  • Tips When Buying Gym (Weights & Cardio) Exercise Equipment

    Many of our personal training clients opt to exercise at home because they prefer not to train in a gym environment. Quite a few people fall into this category and if you are one of them, then it may be of assistance to you to know how to make smart choices when purchasing exercise equipment.

    Before we begin with some tips, keep in mind that you don't need to purchase gym equipment. To achieve nearly any health and fitness goal, you don't "need" dumbbells, a bench, exercise machines and a treadmill. If you are on a shoestring budget, you can achieve goals without the initial investment.

    However, exercise equipment can be of great benefit to you. Whilst not necessary, they can significantly enhance your results and provide you with many more exercise options to keep your training fun, safe and effective.

    Establish what Exercise Equipment You Need

    The first thing you need to do is work out exactly what you need. If you have plenty of exercise experience, this will be quite easy to work out. But if you have never exercised before and are now getting serious about losing weight, building muscle, toning up, improving your fitness, or any other goal, the gym equipment that is available can be completely overwhelming.

    As a very (very) general rule of thumb, for most common goals, you can get by with some basic weight equipment including:

    • An incline bench
    • Dumbbells (hand weights) with adjustable weights
    • A barbell (a bar), again with adjustable weights
    • Weight plates to put on the dumbbells and barbell
    • An exercise ball

    Really, you don't need any expensive machines if you are just starting out. You could effectively exercise all your muscle groups with just this equipment, which would be more than suitable for any muscle gain, toning or fat loss goal.

    Meanwhile when it comes to cardio equipment, it really depends upon your preferences. Do you prefer to use a bike, recumbent bike, elliptical trainer, rower, treadmill, stepper, or something else? Pick the machine that is most suitable for you. This includes considering:

    • Any injuries you may have
    • What exercise machine you enjoy using the most
    • Your budget
    • The space you have available
    • Your goals

    Avoid purchasing the cheapest piece of cardio equipment that you can find. On one particular auction site, I have found so many extremely cheap treadmills - I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole! Even the best treadmills are known to experience problems from regular use; I wouldn't like to try using one purchased for less than a thousand dollars new!

    Cardio equipment can be quite expensive, so I would suggest to consider weight training equipment first, prior to purchasing cardio equipment. There are so many outdoor options for cardio such as sports, leisure activities, riding your bike or just going for a run.

    Also with the cardio equipment, try picking an effective machine where you can adjust the level of resistance. As you become fitter, you will want to increase the level of intensity so you can continue to make progress.

    I hope this provides some degree of assistance if you are considering to buy new exercise equipment for weights and/or cardio. You don't have to go over the top to achieve phenomonal results!

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