Discovering the Ideal Exercise Protocol, Part 1

In previous articles, we have introduced research showing how:

  • 6 – 12 minutes per week of high-intensity, above-the-lactate threshold exercise training (HIET) doubled the length of time that intense aerobic exercise could be maintained in recreationally-active college students (Journal of Applied Physiology 98: 1985-1990, 2005)
  • 6 – 9 minutes of HIET over a two week period provided the same benefits as 4.5 – 9 hours of conventional aerobic endurance training over the same period (The Journal of Physiology, 575, 901-911)
  • High intensity exercise training (HIET) significantly reduced total abdominal fat, abdominal subcutaneous fat, and abdominal visceral fat in middle-aged (51+/- 9 years) women with Metabolic Syndrome while low intensity exercise training (LIET)had no effect(Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise®. 2008;40(11):1863-1872)

It is evident that high intensity exercise training provides all of the benefits that can be attained by traditional low intensity aerobic or “cardio”-type exercise – plus many more that cannot be achieved through such activity – in a fraction of the time. However, traditional exercise modalities, be it higher or lower intensity activities, share one major disadvantage. Both types are inherently high force.

All injuries are caused by muscular or mechanical structures encountering forces that exceed their strength. Force is defined as mass X acceleration (F=ma). Most people are more concerned with the mass, or weight, yet it is the acceleration factor that can be increased exponentially and therefore potentially more dangerous.

Remember that safety is the most important factor in designing an exercise program. Most traditional aerobic and “cardio”-type exercises are high force, low intensity activities. Sprinting, jumping, plyometrics, sprint cycling, and conventional weight training are examples of high force, high intensity activities. Low intensity, low force activities may be safer, but are not productive for stimulating the physiologic changes desired. The challenge is to find a high intensity, low force exercise protocol that is a safe, yet productive alternative to traditional exercise activities.

The Answer

In 1982 researchers at the University of Florida Medical School impaneled approximately 100 women ages 25-75 in the largest clinical study ever conducted on exercise and osteoporosis research.

Through the management of the $3.5 million dollar osteoporosis study, researchers looked to determine the effect exercise might have on bone strength.

Forced to abandon traditional exercise notions because of injuries sustained by this very fragile population, researchers applied physics and engineering principles to human biomechanics to discover a safe, efficient and productive exercise protocol.

As a result, each woman, one-by-one, in a single voice, said they experienced improved quality of and energy for life as a result of their participation in high-intensity, low force strength training exercise (individually determined based on their own limitations).

Since that time, the technique has been perfected, combining the latest in engineering technology of equipment design, classical sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, etc.), genetics, motor learning principles, and the most recent, up-to-date research involving exercise physiology.

Medicine has advanced considerably over the past 15-20 years and it is vital that physicians, physical therapists, and others in the physical medicine field stay abreast of the changes. Continued use of high intensity, low force exercise can be a vital aspect of a physical conditioning or rehabilitation plan when applied appropriately and with adequate knowledge of the protocol.

As an exercise philosophy, this protocol encompasses a broad spectrum of considerations, including:

  • Increased cardiovascular efficiency
  • Increased muscular strength and endurance
  • Increased bone density
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Enhanced metabolic efficiency, including lipid and glucose metabolism
  • Increased resistance to injury

It is by far the safest, most productive and structured way to exercise.

In upcoming articles, we'll explore how you can implement this innovative protocol to your workouts.

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