Healthy Decisions for the Love of Health

Chunky Syndrome By Paul Chek, M.S.S., H.H.P., N.M.T

Have you ever gone to the gym and noticed that the same people seem to be exercising on the same machines, week after week? Have you noticed that these same peopleās physique never seems to change despite their dedication? The million-dollar question is WHY? Quite simply, the body is a very conservative machine. During human evolution, food supplies were unreliable and to survive in a feast or famine environment our physiology learned to become very efficient. This efficiency carries over to modern life particularly whenever you participate in an exercise regime based upon cyclical motions (rowing, swimming, cycling, running, or using a step machine). The body quickly becomes calorie conscious, progressively accomplishing the same amount of work with less energy expenditure.

Charles Poliquin and colleagues have identified The Chunky Aerobic Instructor Syndrome. Poliquin found that aerobics instructors quickly adapted to the workload of teaching classes, often performing three hours of exercise a day. Despite the fact that this is the equivalent training level of a professional athlete, the instructors still maintained disproportionately high body fat levels. You can verify Poliquinās findings by simply observing the bodies of people who perform a lot of cyclical cardiovascular activity; there is no question many of them are pudgier than you would expect!

Resistance training is the key to breaking away from the Chunky Aerobics Instructor Syndrome. First of all, lifting weights in the intensity zone of 8-12 reps coupled with short rest periods has been shown beneficial for releasing the androgenic hormone testosterone and growth hormone. These important hormones encourage development of lean muscle mass, which is a metabolically active tissue consuming calories 24 hours a day. Fat, on the other hand is just along for the ride! Aerobic exercise has been linked with the release of the catabolic hormone cortisol, which is antagonistic to the development of lean muscle mass. Cortisol also promotes conservation of glucose and encourages the use of fat. This might sound good on the surface, but you also become as efficient as a Honda Civic running for 80 kilometers on one gallon of gas. Then you are just like those people going for hours at a time on machines, only to utilize miniscule amounts of fat!

The Formula for Changes

1. Alternate between cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.
2. Use resistance exercises requiring multiple muscles; squats, lunges, rows, lat pull downs, and Swiss Ball weight lifting exercises. Swiss Ball weight lifting exercises consume large amounts of calories because staying on top of the ball requires activation of hundreds of muscles as stabilizers, plus the prime movers of the exercise you have chosen. My video program Strong or Stable gives you about 60 exercise options.
3. Keep loads between 8-12 reps per set and perform five exercises in a row without rest (mini circuit).
4. Keep your rest periods between circuits under 1:30 minute, reducing to 1 minute as your body adapts to the development of lactic acid. Just two days of resistance training and two days of cardiovascular exercise a week will do a lot more for your shape than camping out on the stepper. After all, the leanest bodies in the world belong to sprinters, who despise the thought of aerobic exercise!

Paul Chek, MSS, HHP, NMT has over 14 years experience in the fields of corrective and high performance exercise. Author of 12 correspondence courses, two books and over 40 videos, Paul is sought after as a consultant and lecturer around the world. He has developed the Corrective and High-performance Exercise Kinesiology Certification Program for elite level exercise and health care-professionals and is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute in San Diego, CA. For more information on any of Paul's courses, videos, seminars, books go to:

Source: New Zealand Fitness Magazine (Aug./Sept. 1998)


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