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Summer’s On Its Way: Exercise Questions Answered
Petty Officer 3rd Class Abimelec Apolinaris, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Philadelphia, does high intensity interval training with his crew at the station, Aug. 2, 2012. The station's entire crew does the training together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham, U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Abimelec Apolinaris does high-intensity interval training with his crew, Aug. 2, 2012. They train together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham, U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr)

During our hour on high-intensity workouts, we spoke with fitness experts about everything from warming up to modifying exercises for those with injuries. So, before you head to the gym, take a moment to review these important tips.

Chris Jordan, co-developer of the 7-minute workout, cautions that high-intensity workouts aren’t for beginners:

High-intensity training is not for beginners, and I think most peopel would agree with me there. These are hard, vigorous workouts really for the intermediate or advanced exerciser. There’s a chance, there’s a risk that someone, a beginner, might try these workouts without appropriate guidance and get themselves possibly injured. One thing we recommended in our original article is that these workouts aren’t for everyone, and anyone’s that interested should get pre-screened medical clearance and go see a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor to get guidance on the first time they go round at the very least.

Exercise physiologist Jessica Matthews emphasized that both high-intensity and moderate exercise share the same benefits:

They both provide great benefits — that’s the take home message that I will always mention to individuals. If somebody has an established routine of physical activity and it involves 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes of moderate, steady-state exercise, continue doing that. There’s great benefits to that. And, at the end of the day, whatever we choose to do in terms of being physically active, in order to reap all these great benefits — whether it’s high-intensity training, whether it’s moderate, continuous steady-state — we have to regularly stick with it.

If you have injuries and struggle through some exercises, Jordan recommended finding someone qualified to assist you:

The best thing you can do is get some help from a certified professional. If you go to a local fitness center, YMCA or something like that, and ask a certified fitness professional to help them guide them through alternative, modified exercises that they can do in a safe, effective manner. There are many exercises you can do that will allow someone to work around – not through – an injured part of the body or a part of the body that shouldn’t be stressed. So it’s really about getting professional guidance.

Matthews explained the the importance of a dynamic warm up and a static cool down:

What is best suited for a warm up is a dynamic approach to warming up. That’s kind of preparing the body, it’s increasing core body temperature, taking the joints through the full range of motion. It’s basically giving your body — an easy way to think of it is a preview of what’s to come during the actual workout.

The dynamic warm up is going to be key when we’re talking about high-intensity training. So that could include doing something basic primary movement patterns, such as half squats, doing this like cat and cow pose — or cat/camel as it’s often called — just beginning to warm the spine. There’s a number of different exercises — bird/dog’s a great one when you’re on hands and knees and extend opposite arm and leg, really promoting core stabilization, that spinal stability that’s so important.

We’re now seeing that there’s benefits too at the beginning of a workout, before we do that dynamic warm up, we’re now seeing benefits to doing like myofascial release — if you ever see people using foam rollers, tennis balls, different devices. Those now research is showing is an important part of a warm up.

The static stretching is fantastic. It’s really best reserved for after the workout is done, while your body’s nice and warm, your muscles are more pliable. So we reserve now to the end of the workout.

After the show, Matthews tweeted a guide to tissue density/myofascial release exercises (PDF).

For more advice, here’s our full hour on high-intensity workouts:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000133683604 Rick Devereux

    Hi Tom, 

    I’m a regular listener and a great admirer of both your preparation and your abilities as an interviewer. Imagine my surprise on May 24 to find myself exasperated by your complete lack of preparation on a topic that I spent my professional life involved with (exercise and health). To make matters worse, rather than asking questions that might have prompted a more intelligent discussion with your guests and callers about the many issues and concerns involved in following the very strenuous Cyclone Fitness TV exercise program, you sounded like a cheerleader, your voice aquiver with amazement and enthusiasm. Your intentions may have been above reproach, but you sounded like a naive, first-time buyer, lobbing vague questions right and left.            

    Eventually, without prompting from you, Chris acknowledged the risks involved - as he was obliged to do in order to avoid terrible professional liability. You let him soft pedal the risks in a way that probably avoided his alarming anyone thinking of going head first into Cyclone. When Jessica Matthews of ACE (a reputable organization I’m very familiar with) pointed out that equal benefits ensue from moderate exercise of longer duration, which is appropriate for a wider population than Cyclone, you could have asked about the challenges and set-backs faced by those who try to stay with a regular exercise program or activity, or invited her to explain in lay terms what happens in exercise at different intensities. 

    I don’t have to state the obvious: that fitness fads have made little or no contribution to expand overall exercise participation and adherence. 

    My purpose in writing isn’t to call you out for a single botched hour, but to urge your program to take a hard look at what is a very important and difficult topic for tens of millions of Americans: EXERCISE ADHERENCE. 

    Increasing daily exercise, like dieting, is something almost everyone has tried and failed at in terms of reaching their goal.
    As with the weight loss industry, the fitness industry can offer no quick fitness fix that works for most people. There is no one  way to motivate non-exercisers to exercise: everyone responds differently to appeals and to individual forms of exercise – what works for one, fails for another. 

    As a make-good for the disappointing show of May 24, I would ask that you and your team reach out to guests who could help prepare you to moderate an intelligent, informative discussion.

    Here are some recommendations for possible guests to help you create a program on the topic that would be a credit to you:

    1. Professor Steven Blair, Univ. of South Carolina (formerly at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas; author of the Surgeon Genera”s Report on Regular Exercise)

    2. Dr. Pam Peeke, Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery TV

    3. Dr. James Rippe, Founder if the Rippe Lifestyle Center, Professor at UMass Medical School Lives in Weston, MA)

    4. Dr. Ken Cooper, Founder of the Cooper Center in Dallas

    5. Margaret Moore, Founder of WellCoaches (lives in Wellesley, MA)

    Whatever you do, please do more homework before you invite guests and tackle the topics of exercise and fitness. 

    Thank you. 
    Rick Devereux90 Forest St.Needham, MA 02492erdevereux@gmail.com

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