From time to time, I feel it’s my sacred duty — as your most personal trainer — to tell you about exciting developments in the world of getting stronger and lasting longer that you otherwise might not know about, leading the crazed and busy life you do.
That time is now. So welcome to the brave new world of high-intensity exercise, or Peak Fitness training, as it’s now being marketed by one of its most breathless champions, the controversial and courageous Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Adding individualized anaerobic workouts to your exercise routine — one or two sessions a week, just 20 minutes each — will dramatically boost your fitness, burn your fat, rip your muscles, rejuvenate your heart and much more, says the good doctor. All this, while saving you hours in the gym.
It’s a major exercise mistake, Mercola insists, to focus exclusively on long hours of aerobic training. (Think running, walking, biking, swimming.) Aerobic exercise is wildly important for all the reasons we know, but what we don’t know and what Mercola wants to teach us is the tremendous value of exercising anaerobically, as well — 20-30 second sprints of all-out exhausting effort, followed by 90 seconds of recovery.
In one of his 20-minute Peak Fitness workouts, ideally done on a recumbent bike or elliptical cross trainer, you’re aiming for eight cycles of 30 second sprints for a total of four minutes of the hardest work you’ll ever do. The intensity will vary greatly, from person to person, heart to heart, but the results that Mercola is reporting are the stuff that fitness dreams are made of.
Based on the latest research, Mercola says that pushing your heart rate into your target zone — your anaerobic threshold — and holding it there for 20-30 seconds is the only way to activate your super-fast muscle fibers and naturally boost your production of growth hormone (HGH), the holy grail of healthy aging. Anaerobic training also changes your biochemistry in a quick, efficient way that helps you regulate your blood sugar and levels of insulin.
“Normalizing your insulin level,” says Mercola, “is the most important factor for optimizing your overall health and preventing disease of all kinds, cheap accutane from diabetes, to heart disease, to cancer and everything in between.”
To learn about the many benefits of high-intensity training, sprint over to www.mercola.com for several lifetimes of more detail, and please watch the videos of Mercola himself demonstrating what it looks and feels like to anaerobically exercise.
It looks like the worst 30 seconds of his life. Mercola, on a recumbent bike — fabulously fit for a man of 56 — is pumping his legs as quickly as he can, against fierce resistance (a 19 out of 20), sweating bullets, unable to talk, panting so loudly, it’s a little scary.
But Mercola knows what he’s doing, and more importantly, he knows he’s only going to be doing it for 30 seconds. After the sprint — the extremely challenging part of anaerobic exercise, when you push your pulse to a certain target zone and keep it there — you get to relax and recover for 90 whole seconds … and then you go again. If you’re still alive.
In the video, Mercola is expertly coached through eight sets of sprints by Phil Campbell, author of “Ready Set Go,” a book that details how anaerobic exercise stimulates your super-fast twitch fibers — something aerobic exercise does not do — and increases your growth hormone levels naturally, without nasty shots or risky drugs.
“The higher your levels of growth hormone (HGH), the healthier and stronger you’re going to be,” says Mercola. “And the longer you can keep your body producing high levels of HGH, the longer you will experience robust health and strength.”
As intriguing as it is, anaerobic exercise presents some real-world challenges. It’s a brutal workout. It’s impossible to talk or catch your breath for short bursts because you are in oxygen debt. You have to build up to it gradually, mindfully, checking with your doctor, listening to your body, developing stamina and endurance as you go.
Mercola adores it, but it’s not for everyone. What is?
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! JOE KNOWS
“I’ve been trying this out for several months now, and in the first three months alone I dropped 5 percent body fat without ever touching a treadmill.” — Dr. Mercola