- Written by Bill Handren
"This is why my athletes do almost no “conventional” aerobic training. All of our aerobic work is a by-product of our anaerobic work. My athletes or clients can get their heart rate in the recommended aerobic range for 15 to 20 minutes, yet in some cases, they do only three minutes of actual work.".....Mike Boyle
It is gratifying that coaches are finally accepting what weightlifters have known for several decades. Consider a weightlifter with a heavily loaded barbell across his shoulders about to do squats. He draws a deep breath, holds it and descends all the way down. The breath holding or "Valsalva" maneuver is necessary to maintain spinal stability when using heavy weights. Anyone who says a lifter should inhale smoothly on the way down and exhale smoothly on the way up has never had anything heavier than a broomstick across his shoulders.
As the lifter rises from the bottom of squat he continues holding his breath. At the halfway up point, where improved leverage makes the exercise easier, he will slowly expel the breath until he reaches the top position. The lifter pauses, takes several deep breaths to partially recover, holds the final big breath and repeats the movement.
I once asked an old timer how many repetitions I should do. He said; "It depends on how GD long you're willing to stand under the SOB as it crushes you." That's why someone coined the phrase, "Stand there long enough and you can do another." As the heart pumps like mad for several seconds between each rep, our lifter recovers enough of his leg strength, endurance and "wind" to do another. High repetition squats were called "breathing squats" in past decades. The old timers discovered how effective they were for improving aerobic capacity. No labs. No scientists. Simple observation. And these old timers grew big and strong as they increased their "wind" rather than emaciated and joint damaged as so many runners do. These old timers breathed pretty hard during most of their workout. If they spent an hour in the gym, their pulse was always elevated. In effect, cardiovascular conditioning was an accident of weight training.
Yet, despite studies which confirmed the above, the aerobics and medical community turned up their noses at heavy weight training. They classified weight training as anaerobic - oxygen deficient. They ignored the point the heart pumps hard to restore oxygen to the muscles and carry away waste products both during and after anaerobic exercise. When someone can grasp the idea that how one keeps the heart rate elevated and whether the blood is momentarily oxygen deficient doesn't matter, all sorts of opportunities for workout efficiency present themselves.
The Soviets never bought into the long, slow aerobic training concept. Pavel Tsatsuline called aerobics "an insult to the body", and he is recognized as one of the fittest men around. He popularized the use of kettlebells which have since become the favored tool for MMA training. Long used by the Soviets and Europeans, kettlebells addressed several areas of conditioning simultaneously - explosiveness, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular capacity. Check the heart rate of an old farmer as he tosses bails of hay for an hour. Total functionality. Maximum efficiency. John Deere does not sell running shoes.
The intent of the first Petie article was to show how a time pressed person can manipulate his or her karate program to develop good cardiovascular fitness. The father of aerobics, Dr. Kenneth Cooper actually advised one do no more than 30 minutes of running three times a week. He stressed beyond that range, it is more about ego than fitness and is damaging to the joints.
Before anyone mis-interprets what I am writing, I am not condemning aerobics. Stand alone aerobics may be appropriate for the general population, but for the serious martial artist there should be little need for a separate aerobics program if one trains at a pace which is challenging for the individual. Not brutal, just challenging. Karate, although composed of technically "anaerobic" explosive movements is essentially aerobic because of pacing, although the way some go about it makes me wonder. Why drag one's feet during the karate practice only to later do "aerobics?" Why add additional wear and tear especially for older trainees? If it were possible to combine strength training with karate, my weights would be in the next garage sale. I do not like lifting but I have never found an adequate replacement since the legs, back and hips are so strong
Over the years I have owned and used every training device imaginable. Besides a Tunturi Ergometer exercise bike I have owned for over forty years, Nordic Trac, Total Gym, Air Dyne, speed jump ropes, running shoes, a full set of kettlebells, exercise bands, medicine balls, pulleys, suspension training and other items sit in corners of my gym. I occasionally play with them, but it is always the same conclusion; refine what I already do, don't add more. Train efficiently.
And this brings us to the single most glaring flaw of cardio training.........