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Chevell's Guide to Fitness


Did you know that 85% of all people who start a 'get fit' program do not last more than three months?

It's true. They give up. Why? Because they just don't see enough meaningful results.

Most of us have been taught we should exercise with an elevated heart rate, 45-60 minutes, three times per week.

If you're exercising in this way, you will probably end up being disappointed and even give up.

When it comes to fat and cellulite, your body wants to get rid of it as much as you do?

Over the last 25 years, aerobics and walking - sweat, sweat, and sweat - has been idolised as the be-all and end-all of exercise. Wrong, wrong, wrong - it is NOT

That highly repetitive, steady state activity such as walking, jogging etc., does little to improve the strength of your muscles and bones, takes a lot of time and contributes to injury, and in the end, results in minimal fitness.

That's why today's conventional approach to fitness too often falls short on delivering its' promise.

So, exercise really is for every body, every shape, every age - everyone. But how do I know what works best for me?

Exercise, in a nutshell, is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature. The key word here is "demanding." If an activity is not demanding, then it does not qualify as exercise. Through exercise we are sending an ultimatum to the human body. This is perceived as a threat by the body, although it can be affected with safety.

What are the key elements of physical fitness? Through exercise, the aim is to see continuous improvement in these factors - STRENGTH and endurance of our muscles and bones - STRENGTH and maximum efficiency of our heart/lung system in consuming oxygen - STRENGTHEN and enhance our flexibility and ability to move freely - REDUCING our levels of unwanted and unneeded body fat - INCREASING our resistance to injury. This becomes a bonus, and should follow from all other factors. It should go without saying that these factors should lead to safer movement in any activity.

Last year 1.4 million injuries were sustained as a result of exercise, recreational and fitness activities in this country. If this many people in Australia were injured as a result of some dreaded disease such as polio or tuberculosis or AIDS or the result of some criminal element we would be organising telethons, doing research, raising money, delivering speeches, holding rallies to stamp out and denounce this villain. But exercise? That's OK.

And remember, most of these activities are performed in the pursuit of health.

Exercise has immense potential benefit - probably more than most of us suspect. But I have little confidence that only a very small percentage of Australians are reaping these benefits.

Most of the problem stems from a misunderstanding of what exercise can do.

Understand the difference between exercise and recreation. Do not try to make exercise enjoyable. Do not try to make recreation exercise.

If you confuse and mix exercise and recreation, you will compromise many forthcoming physical benefits of exercise, and may destroy a degree of the fun that recreation should bring. Accept both for what they are.

If you can place exercise and recreation in their proper perspective, the quality of your results from exercise will improve.

As you exercise, you should be constantly aware of the level of effort you are currently making and give it a level rating of say, between 1-10. You should feel that you just managing to "hang on", and this would say feel to you about a 7 or 8 out of 10. You may experience a burning sensation in your muscles or laboured breathing and you're 'huffing and puffing'. You may not be breaking any new world records, but to you it certainly feels demanding.

When you exercise like this, expect that each session may only last 15 mins to 25 mins. This is perfect!

There are no additional 'prizes' for turning this kind of exercise workout into a 45-60 mins session.

The real results don't come by adding more volume, i.e. more time. In fact the opposite will occur. Your best improvements will come from more effort each time you exercise

True improvements come from how much effort you put in, not how much time you put in. Remember, you can't replace effort with volume, and you can't substitute quality with quantity.

So, you can say to yourself - how much effort am I putting in now? Would I say it's WEAK - MODERATE - STRONG - or EXTRA STRONG?

And in an instant you know what your answer to this question would be. And if you answer, between STRONG and EXTRA STRONG, then you are on the right track. You will get stunning results always. High effort equals high yield. Now doesn't that sound more like it!

So then you get back into it for a few weeks, knock off some of the extra weight you've gained, and when all the progress stops, you'll just go back to where you were - because nothing else much good ever happens for you!

These "hour a day", three times a week methods, will give early promise. In those first few weeks, you get some encouraging signs. But, unfortunately your improvements will plateau as your body systems adapt. So then, you'll probably go looking for a change to your routine. Take out an exercise hear and there. Add in a new exercise hear and there, giving that a try.

The exercises may have changed, but the way you go about it, hasn't. So, therefore neither has your progress. Trouble folks! Trouble. I have seen this thousands and thousands of times over a twenty-five year period of teaching and coaching fitness.

So, getting back to the all-important message - the key element you must remember is that with exercise you either WORK HARD or WORK LONG. You can't do both! Not you, not me, not the best in the world.

And when you work hard, you will only last 20-25 minutes - THAT'S IT!

You can't work for 60 mins, and say that you're working hard. Because if you were working hard, you would have only lasted around 25 mins.

Let me explain another thing - FAT hates vigorous exercise - it wants to get out of there. But it doesn't much mind moderate exercise - you know why? Because moderate exercise effort doesn't threaten fat, but vigorous exercise effort does!

And if fat doesn't get threatened, it doesn't need to go anywhere - and it won't.

What are the best forms of exercise I can do? That's an easy question to answer. Without hesitation, Rowing is the best overall and complete exercise of all. Why, all the Olympic associations worldwide agree that the Olympic rowers are the fittest of all athletes.

Rowing in-roads the strength of your upper and lower body muscles together, and makes you work your heart and lungs harder because it needs to deliver fresh oxygenated blood to the upper and lower limbs at the same time. And all with the absence of bone jarring impact that you get from walking, jogging and running.

Cycling and swimming are also great exercises, and come highly recommended, but are a little behind rowing in value for effort. All three here bring you wonderful improvements in strengthening your muscles, your heart/lungs and your flexibility.

Another outstanding form of exercise is Strength training with resistance or weights. An exercise program that includes a combination of resistance exercises, together with rowing, cycling or swimming is pretty hard to beat.

Notice how I haven't emphasised walking jogging or tread milling. It's because, even though it's a very popular exercise, it does not deliver on its' promise - and that is to make you strong, fit and free of injury.

Did you know that all recent studies fail to provide any evidence that walking-jogging improves the strength off your muscles and bones? Unless you happen to be climbing hills, mountains and stairs there are no corresponding gains in muscle strength.

I'd say that's a pretty important factor in exercise - wouldn't you! Why would you choose as a primary exercise activity, something that didn't do anything to improve the strength of your muscles and bones?

The other factor about walking-jogging is that sooner or later the pounding away on your body is going to have an affect. You'll get an injury. It may be sore shins, soreness and inflammation of the knee, and I can just about guarantee pain in the lower back.

Heaven knows why we all rush into buy expensive footwear designed to prevent us from hurting ourselves while we are exercising! Sounds pretty weird to me. And this is supposed to be in the pursuit of health.

Just remember a point I raised earlier, that 1.4 million Aussies get exercise injuries each year - and most of them are from impact. That's your body being pounded and being worn out from the jarring effects of walking and jogging. Is that what you want?

Choose another form of activity as your primary source of exercise, and treat walking-jogging as a secondary source. After all, it does have some benefits for your heart and lungs. Even though rowing, cycling, swimming for example, all provide cardiovascular conditioning as well.

Did you know the highest ever recorded litres of oxygen consumed in a minute on VO2 max tests has been by Olympic rowers. And not runners! With the Tour DeFrance cyclists a close second. What hint does that give us about the value of those activities - rowing and cycling, to be included in our everyday "get fit" plan.

When you choose an exercise such as rowing, cycling or swimming, rather than aim at spending 10-15 minutes on that activity, make your aim a set distance instead. For example on rowing select 2000 metres or 2 kilometres; or on the bike maybe go for 5 kilometres; or when swimming maybe aim for 100 metres. It's important to note how long in exact time it takes for you to complete each distance. Note that down, and with each successive row, ride or swim you should be attempting to improve on your times. It's more or less a race against your self. Even when you get to the point where it becomes very difficult to better your times, never give up trying.

The point here is, that your effort level always remains high. And remember that high effort equals high yield. Exactly what you are striving to achieve.

Be careful not to give in to temptation to increase the distances you row, ride or swim. More distance (and obviously longer exercise workouts) does not mean more results. More effort on the same distance will yield more results.

Exercisers often refer to how much time they put in such as "I've done this or that for half an hour or an hour today". They express their efforts in references of time. So the more time they say that they have done, the more impressive it sounds.

Not to me. As soon as I hear someone putting in more time, I know it means less effort. Because the only way they can last longer is to spread their efforts out. As soon as they spread their efforts out, the intensity lowers as does the rewards.

Often, I get asked 'Can you give me a program to lose weight?' My answer sometimes startles the person posing this question, when I give the answer 'sorry I don't have any programs for weight loss'. But then I continue, 'do you know why I don't have any programs for weight loss - it's because I don't need them.'

Because when you approach exercise the correct way in the first place, the way it should be done, the human body takes care of itself. It already knows you need to lose weight, and it will correct itself. I've lost count of those who have followed these simple principles and lose enormous amounts of weight in very short time, just by doing the exercises I give them, and no matter hard they try, can never last any more than about 25 minutes. That's because they're not supposed to.

One fellow recently, showed me a photo of himself at 158kgs. He now weighs 90kgs. He explained that he lost 68kg in eleven months just by spending up to 25 minutes a day 4-5 times each week, following the advice contained here. He had previously been to "Gut busters", "Gloria Marshall", had tried every fad diet known to man, had been walking, had been to gyms before, even had a personal trainer and was 'flogged' and hour and a hour a day - all failed to bring any real meaningful progress. A few kilos here and there were all he ever shed.

He stated that he came to us as one final and last ditch effort, and even with that, did not hold much hope that the results would be any different to his previous attempts to lose weight. But when we explained to him that our exercise guidance was completely different to the "mega-miles" approach he was used to, he thought why not, give it a go. And he did, and his body did just what the body is supposed to do - it 'normalised' itself, and now he is 68 kgs lighter, and much healthier as a result.

For busy people, your idea of exercise maybe running to a sale in your lunch hour.

If you want to get rid of those wrinkles on your forehead, and that cellulite on your hips, your'e not really going to do it by using a cream from the beauty counter.

"have you ever tried to open on of those combination locks?"

You can't just get on of the numbers right. Two out of three numbers lined up is still not good enough. You have to get all three right. And it's just like magic when you get all three in position!

I have poured my life into helping others succeed, adopting the principles of exercise, hard work and getting people to believe in themselves.

Whether you're 30 or 60, it's never too late for exercise. It doesn't matter if you've flopped fumbled and failed your way through 'get fit' programs in the past.

The Chevell System will rebuild your body, your mind and your life.