"The human body is the best picture of the human soul."
- LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN
Many people seem to think that fitness implies health; however fitness and health do not always go hand in hand. The optimum balance to be achieved in health and fitness is achieved in training the metabolism. This is what dictates the quality of life and ultimately the physical destiny that we set for ourselves in developing a ripped physique.
It is important to understand the distinction between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, between endurance and power. Aerobic exercise is moderate exercise sustained over time and sustains endurance, the heart, lungs, blood vessels and aerobic muscles. With proper diet and exercise, fat is burned as the primary fuel during aerobic training. Anaerobic exercise on the other hand burns glycogen and causes the body to store fat. Genetics can play a role in how efficient your aerobic your system is.
The level of intensity dictates whether you are using aerobic or anaerobic system. We live in a highly anaerobic state, with a lot of stress which is further compounded by our exercise habits. As a result our bodies to burn glycogen as the primary fuel source rather than fat. Out of frustration to lose that flabby midsection people push themselves even harder at the gym which causes the anaerobic metabolism to burn up blood sugar which has an impact on health and vitality. The nervous system demands two thirds of the body’s blood sugar and when that is depleted there will be negative effects such as fatigue, exercise injuries, low blood sugar, stiff joins, anxiety and depression and headaches.
We live in a society that is anaerobic excessive and aerobic deficient and it is something that is having an impact across New Zealand with low quality of health and high obesity rates. As society has become less physically active to connect to our warrior roots we now design exercise routines for ourselves to make up for lack of physical activity in our daily lives. However as we try to push ourselves to achieve great results in a short time period it also can create an improper balance between health and fitness.
For optimum results it is necessary to build up a strong aerobic base to develop and maximize the aerobic system. Properly developed aerobic system will not only enhance your techniques but will burn off fat, improve immune system, provide more energy as well as keep you injury free. People often see me running, that’s because I practice the fitness methodologies that I teach.
By creating an aerobic capacity you expand the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to every organ and system of the body. I have had several people drop out of training due to injury. Invariably every single one of them was large Polynesian types who were constantly pushing their heart rates in intense short bursts of anaerobic exercise. Does this mean that heavy built people are less adapted to martial arts training? The answer lies with the correct methodology; the Maori students were constantly working in anaerobic state when doing pad work, aggression drills and sparring without having built up the aerobic base which is something taken for granted in military combat fitness. As a result these students are now missing out on training due to injury. This also has a psychological effect of associating pain and injury to training and can affect motivation.
I remember the days when I would train so hard in weekend team sparring sessions that I would be limping the next day. I used to sincerely believe that this ‘no-pain no gain approach’ was making me a healthier and fitter individual. The key is to train the metabolism which can only truly be achieved through a good aerobic regimen. One student told me that he wanted to shed the extra fat through dieting. The effect of dieting actually causes the body to enter an emergency mode where it stores fat even more efficiently. When he eventually would return to his previous eating habits he would find that even more fat is stored from the same amount of food. For burning off fat nothing can compare to aerobic exercise.
When we warm up in class before starting training we prepare the body by mobilizing the fatty acids into the blood stream. This warm up period should ideally take approximately 15 minutes. At the end of class we spend 10 to 15 minutes cooling down. This prevents the blood from pooling in the muscles increasing toxicity and causing soreness and injury. I love to work out because of good training practices which make me link pleasure in my mind to training rather than injury and pain. My advice is to listen to your body, develop body wisdom and notice your body’s ability to perform more challenging tasks. Let training in martial arts become a positive addiction in your life.