Just a few days ago, I attended the NYSAHPERD Suffolk Zone Conference, which was a workshop for physical education and health teachers in the area. As a member of both the AAHPERD and the NYSAHPERD, I’m a little nerdy and was planning on going anyway. Plus, it was a requirement for one of my classes. I didn’t have an option!
After getting off to a late state on Tuesday, (I slept for an extra 1:15 through my alarm), I made the mad dash to Adelphi to pick up three classmates. After a quick trip down the Northern State Parkway, we arrived at Half Hollow Hills West High School with just minutes to spare; the first presentation was starting in 3 minutes. With the same brevity of my check-in, I bring you my review of the 4 presentations I attended.
This first presentation, CrossFit: Implementing Functional Lifelong Fitness into PE was made by Brian Costello and Ian Fogarty of Crossfit Long Island, and during it they discussed the benefits of the CrossFit training ideas, as well as application of it to a group fitness setting and/or physical education classes. The presentation started with a film of some common Crossfit training, and then an explanation of the domains of fitness that Crossfit requires proficiency in. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. According to the CrossFit definition of fitness, adaptations occur across all of these demains for their training to be effective. One of my favorite things which Ian and Brian discussed was the diversity in Crossfit training. Ian used the phrase “Specialize in not specializing” to explain the general physical preparedness that was gained by following the programming. It’s designed as truly functional fitness; helping you get better at your daily activities, at functioning in the real world. This can be directly applied to the physical education setting, where you want to reap the most benefits for your students. By instituting a CrossFit program, you have non-stop exercise during that workout, and participants are maximizing their benefits for any given period of time. However, despite the benefits of Crossfit, there are many risks. The injuries associate with the activity weren’t addressed (for obvious reasons; they were selling a product, where they not?) While the concept of metabolic conditioning and training efficiency are certainly ones that need to be addressed in everyone’s programming, the randomness of CrossFit is not the best idea for schools. While the perpetually changing Workout Of the Day keeps things interesting, it can also lead to over-training and over-use injuries. While the ideas of CrossFit are idea’s that I love in the conceptual and ideological aspects, I dislike their lack of true program design, and I abhor the disregard for form and proper technique that are present in many gyms and workouts. While time efficient training and metabolic conditioning, as well as emphasis on those 10 domains of fitness, are a great idea, CrossFit in schools may not be the best of ideas.
Caloric Expenditure of Circuit Training was a lecture given by Josh O’Brien, M.A., a part-time professor at Suffolk Community College and exercise physiologist at J.P. Verdisco Exericse. Josh did a wonderful job laying out the caloric expenditures of different styles of exercise training; Free Weights, Circuit Training, and Cardiovascular Training. I’m about to shrink an hour long presentation into a few sentences. You burn more calories during cardiovascular training than you do during free weight training or circuit training. This isn’t anything new, considering the studies on this topic have been around for a while. Josh also discussed the effect of EPOC, or Execess Post-Exercise Oxygyn Consumption. EPOC is your body’s increased use of oxygen after a bout of exercise to help repair the oxygen ‘debt’ that occurs; essentially, it’s catching up to the work you’ve done. Josh explained that while the EPOC effect is higher in anaerobic training than aerobic training, it’s not enough to warrant focusing on anaerobic training over aerobic training. A disciple of the Adelphi University exercise physiology department, Josh recommended using a ‘one set to failure’ protocol, and spending more time enhancing cardiovascular fitness. This may be a good idea if your exercise goal is to maximize caloric deficit per workout, but I find a number of problems with his reasoning.
My complaints stem from the research. The studies that were quoted for resistance training involved doing a set of an isolation exercise, taking a 30-60 second break, then moving on to the next set of an isolation exercise. They used the Cybex Circuit, the bane of my existence. They didn’t use any ‘new’ styles of training, utilizing super-sets, giant-sets, complexes, or fillers. To me, this is focusing too much on the science you want to be right and forgetting about the real world application of physiology. If you have the desire to be correct, then you’re going to be correct; you’ll disregard the things that prove you wrong. In this case, the newly popular model of metabolic conditioning proves the Josh O’Brien/Adelphi Ex. Phys. school of thought wrong. The term ‘metabolic conditioning’ is vague and undefined, and research on the topic is limited. However, we know anecdotally that metabolic conditioning is more effective than steady state training for eliciting positive body composition adaptations. Frequently in exercise, the numbers don’t add up. Please explain to me why in THIS study participants in the HIIT group expended half of the energy (57.9 ± 14.4 vs.120.4 ± 31.0 [MJ]) yet they lost 3 times more fat (13.9 vs. 4.5). If you read the chart provided in that study, you realize that it doesn’t make any sense. Until you read studies such as THIS one, which demonstrate that exercise intensity has a greater effect on lipid oxidation and hormonal markers than we thought. Lastly, HERE and HERE we see that intense exercise increases metabolism to a significant degree. Outside of the body of research on the topic, which of the following modes of exercise seem to be more effective and efficient for making the best out of your time and body:
During Myths and Misconceptions about Resistance Training, Josh O’Brien again lectured about the facts and fallacies about exercise. This presentation had me feeling like I was going to be split in half. From the onset, Josh alternated between points that I either loved or hated, making my emotions sway more than they do when watching The Notebook while eating Häagen-Dazs after your boyfriend breaks up with you during that time of the month. Yea, it felt like that. I’ll give some examples of what I mean.
Point 1 was that girls won’t get big lifting heavy weights. To me, this is an obvious fact, although I constantly hear refrain “I don’t want to get bulky.” I hate to break it to you, but it’s pretty hard to put on muscle mass; ask any 155lb high school senior and they’ll tell you about it. What you’d like to hear even less, is that if you do find yourself bulking up while weight lifting, and that’s not your intention, is that your diet probably sucks. Eating too much of anything is going to make you gain weight, it’s not the lifting’s fault. Stop getting those girly drinks at happy hour! For girls to put on muscle mass lifting weights takes some genetic gifts (or curses, depending on your view of it) and some really hard work. If you’re the 1 in 100 that can easily put on muscle, good (or bad) for you. If not, then you should try to be a little more awesome, and start picking up heavy stuff. (Note to readers; I’m teaching my girlfriend to deadlift in the morning. AWESOME!)
Another point that Josh made was that protein supplementation doesn’t need to occur for muscle growth. In fact, I think you’d actually benefit more from working to get more dietary protein in your diet from food sources; eggs, chicken, nuts, eggs, steak, eggs, milk…eggs….eggs. Alright, so I like eggs. There are plenty of tasty protein sources out there, and by basing your meals around one each time you eat, you’ll set yourself up for success. Eat the good stuff, and you’ll feel better and look better; you don’t need the powder to have a healthy diet.
Go back and look at that picture above of that girl in a deep squat. Squats activate more muscle mass than almost any other exercise (deadlifting might win on that front) Squats are awesome. They’re so awesome, in fact, that if I meet that girl, I may marry her. Or at least workout with her. Something that Josh said which made me squirm in my seat was that machines work just as well as free weights. He made the point that there isn’t any statistical signifance in their effectiveness; basically, they tie. However, when you’re looking at the big picture, there has to be clear superiority here. Can you see it? You can’t see it?!? We want the best results from our training. We want to feel better, move better, look better, and get stronger. Which would fufill all those requirements, moving around from machine to machine, or moving your body through space with or without external load? Again, I refer you back to the picture of our lady friend squatting.
Related to this, Josh again brought up the one set vs multiple sets issue he presented in his first lecture. Again, he stated that there is no statistical significance. While personally I think this is total bullshit for it’s application to the real world, that’s not the issue here. Let’s again examine the total effect of training. It’s not only about strength; let’s use the 10 domains from CrossFit that I mentioned above. If you’re using multiple sets, you’re getting better at a big chunk of those domains. Unless you have certain orthopaedic issues, multiple sets is the way to go.
Let me lay out those past two points in a format that will make you facepalm because the facts are so obvious. I’ll stick with the ‘fact’ that the differences between compound/isolation and one set/multiple set are stastically insignificant. I don’t really believe this, but we’ll say it’s a given. Here are two different ways to train your lower body, using Josh’s reasoning and Harold’s reasoning.
- Leg Curl, 10 reps
- Leg Extension, 10 reps
- Hip Extension, 10 reps
- Hip Abduction, 10 reps
- Hip Adduction, 10 reps
- Squat, 5×5
- Self high-five for awesomeness.
If this isn’t a no-brainer to you, then you’re either lazy or have terrible skills of deductive reasoning. I’m not even going to explain this one to you. I’m just going to leave you with a video of awesome training, hopefully to inspire you to go out there and get it done. Eat protein when you’re done. Avoid anything that’s electric, save your iPod.
Now I have to figure out how to edit this for a class…