Intense Exercise Shows Physical Breakdown

At the highest capacity of function, the body shows weakness. When the body is stressed it shows physical breakdown.

Take an elite athlete; they are young, healthy, and their bodies function almost to perfection -- until they reach their maximum output. But you may never know what their highest levels of functions are until they are pushed beyond their capacity and train in these high levels of function.

The Best Exercise

These high levels are a point where a person reaches Metabolic Capacity, crossing the metabolic threshold of function and performance. For every athlete, all the physical training and conditioning, diet, mental focus, and everything else that is important, is to improve performance and to push beyond the metabolic threshold.

As well, for us normal people, we plan and are diligent in these healthy endeavors as well in our attempts to improve our own health if nothing more than living a strong, long, active life. We're similar as the athlete -- just a matter of scale.

What do you do to push the limits of human function? You must direct attention to all aspects of the person; again, that is physical training, diet and what fuels the body, positive mental focus on why this is an important endeavor - to improve health and maintain it. You cannot overlook one area, you must attend to them all.

But for our purposes today, let's stick with exercise because it is so demonstrable and I have a machine that I'm going to use to explain this in detail.

If asked you to go hiking with me and we're going to hike 3 miles, you might be interested. But if I followed up and said that this hike is through the wild Eastern Oregon, United States mountains, and instead of hiking we're going to be carrying a bow in one hand, wearing a 30 pound backpack and the terrain is sometimes up rocky hills and down into steep valleys and we're leaving at 4:00 am in the morning and we won't be back to camp until 4:00 pm, would you be game? Would you be ready to leave tomorrow? Are you physically prepared to go?

Take another scenario. Forget about hiking. Instead I'm going to meet you at your local track and all you have to do is sprint as fast as you can for as long as you can. Are you game? Are you ready?

I know, how you answer these is dependent on everything: your age, your fitness level, even on if you want to do this after meeting me.

My point is: are you prepared physically, well enough to meet the challenges of your day? But that's just your day -- do you ever push yourself beyond your capacity to gain any adaptability that your body can provide?

The other day I met with a group of doctors, fitness people and a physiologist/researcher in my office where we had a demonstration of the Myoride Exercise Machine. Two points she made stood out: 1) your exercise has to be safe 2) you have to push yourself to gain any benefits of exercise.

Let me expound on that.

Think about this. What benefit is someone getting from jogging on a treadmill for 30 minutes who jogs on the treadmill every other day for 30 minutes? Really think about this. After a point of physical work there may be no benefit. In fact, might not this 30 minutes be enough time to just deplete the metabolic reserves without pushing into the metabolic threshold where the body has to respond to the crisis and make adaptations to higher levels of function? It is when the body is stressed and moves far from homeostasis that better functioning takes place.

Go back to our "hike" (it's really elk hunting with a bow). What can you do for 3 weeks prior to departure, that may not at all be related to everything I described, that might prepare you for a full week of this kind of activity?

Certainly your metabolism must be efficient at the end of the 3 weeks training. This includes your cardiorespiratory systems, hormone output and receptibility, and even neurological stability.

Here's a prime example of physical activity causing breakdown. Meet my friend Chuck.

Dr. Chuck had never been on the Myoride and I was impressed that he kept good motion, if only for 46 seconds, going all out high intensity.

Here's where we see the point of this discussion. Chuck had been in an accident and had severe injuries a few years ago, one of which was a left shoulder injury. When you watch the video of Chuck, at first, his left arm range of motion is less than his right and as he continues with high intensity exercise on the machine his left arm moves less and less while both his hips go further into flexion (the hips gain more range of motion). In his case, and I bet in every other case, the intensity of the workout will elicit physical breakdown. He works as long as he can, recruiting more muscles, increasing cardiac output, increasing respiratory function, until he cannot continue the vital requirements, that is, his cardiorespiratory system exhausts. The shoulder injury becomes apparent and begins to fail in its function and the legs try making up the difference to satisfy the vital functions (the oxygen debt!).

He will not be efficient until and unless his body functions are improved. In his case, the injured shoulder needs to be fixed. Now if he never does more than walking around, or "exercises" more than 30 minutes at a low intensity on a treadmill, or ever has to push his body, he will probably have no problem. But the intensity, the crisis placed on his cardiorespiratory system, will elicit the weaknesses in the body.

What should Chuck do? He should get his shoulder fixed and then he will have the opportunity to increase his fitness level by increasing his cardiorespiratory function, if that's what he wants to do.

Take it to another level. Pick any elite athlete you want. Their fitness level may be high but can it be increased? Absolutely, if their physical exertion is at a higher intensity than they have ever experienced. That is, if they are pushed beyond normal limits. In this way their body (like yours and mine) have to respond well past metabolic threshold, well into metabolic capacity (without having physical injuries -- safe! As the physiologist said).

Only by pushing the body (for a short time is better if not safer), will you ever increase metabolic capacity and fitness levels. Chuck just showed that his body went into physical exhaustion in 46 seconds. That is enough, and I hope you saw it, to determine many biometrics that he can use to improve his physical outcomes, performance, and fitness level. His body broke down under the intensity.

Just a note. Chuck could exercise his shoulder against resistance into better ranges of motion, without addressing his shoulder specifically, but that's not the best way for him overall. The injury needs to be addressed and simultaneously exercised for more of a complete healing. Then onto improving fitness.

Peter Lind