Friday, February 22, 2008

What Is HEART.MUSCLE.MIND Fitness?

The HEART.MUSCLE.MIND [H.M.M] approach provides an open and complete structure for fitness to ensure your body and mind are getting what they need to achieve optimal fitness both inside and out. Without a complete paradigm for thinking about fitness many people tend to focus in on only one or two components of H.M.M. Sometimes we just navigate to what we are good at or what we know. Other times people are placating to their vanities and wearing blinders by doing what they think will achieve a certain result, alas they are missing some key pieces of knowledge. For instance, there are often a fleet of women on ellipticals or treadmills who do little else or the macho men who lift heavy weights but maintain a belly and cannot touch their toes. And no matter how many sit-ups you do, you won't have a six pack if you don't address the fat on top with calorie burning cardio work and good diet. For a visceral understanding of how a laser focus on one component of fitness can end up, lets look at a few pictures of bodies that have been crafted by...

All HEART All MUSCLE ALL MIND
fusion cross-training fusion cross-training fusion cross-training

"Fitness is not Marathons or Bodybuilding or Yoga,
it's All of them, so Cross-traing."

HEART.MUSCLE.MIND Bodies
fusion cross-training

Now I'll break down each component so that you can understand why it is needed, how it can be achieved, and at what point it should be included in the workout, explaining my design of the H.M.M Cross-training workout.

HEART -
Cardiovascular Conditioning
The HEART component addresses the most important system of the body, the cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood, arteries, etc. When the heart stops we die and that has happened for an alarming number of Americans with heart disease being the #1 killer for years. If you think of HEART as the engine of your car, then you know you need to run it often with clean oil so that it runs well and lasts long. Same for the cardiovascular system.


fusion cross-trainingIn cardiovascular conditioning we are aiming to raise the heart rate up to 60-90% of max heart rate (220-Age). At the lower end of that range it is an aerobic workout that forces the heart to pump harder, burning more calories, flushing blood through the body and strengthening the heart. At the higher levels it becomes anaerobic and forces the lungs to use oxygen more efficiently, which in turn elevates the metabolism and increases the number of calories our body burns at rest.

In the H.M.M Cross-training this currently takes the shape of both interval and distance running and biking, kickboxing and suspension training and will certainly appear in other formats as we evolve. It always kicks off H.M.M Cross-training because it not only warms and loosens the muscles for the MUSCLE component, it is the best at getting the heart rate up, which can then be maintained through MUSCLE before being purposely lowered in the MIND segment.

MUSCLE - Resistance and Flexibility Training
Everything in nature will only develop as much as it has to, to survive the challenges which it is presented in life. These days most people's jobs and daily commute put more strenuous effort on our wrists and ankles then the rest of our musculoskeletal system, so our muscle mass dwindles away (1 lb every year over 25), our bones get brittle, connective tissues weaker and muscles tighter. Likewise however, our structural system responds powerfully to resistance training and its not just the muscles, bones act in much the same way, regenerating stronger after resistance is applied.

fusion cross-trainingThe resistance portion of the MUSCLE component can take several forms as it does in our H.M.M Cross-training including traditional weight lifting and resistance bands as well as Pilates, Yoga, Boot Camp and Suspension training which all use your own body weight as resistance. The technique and amount of resistance used can deliver different desired body types, but some form is essential to maintaining a fit body and healthy weight. In the H.M.M Cross-training we try to hit the body with a wide variety of techniques, but we emphasize a "work to fatigue" approach that makes for a time efficient, high calorie burn workout that averages 10-15 reps per set. This range builds strong, lean, toned muscles (avoiding "bodybuilder bulk") as well as increasing stamina.

The flexibility portion of the MUSCLE component is often times overlooked. Simply ask any athlete, coach or person over the age of 50 the value of stretching to get a plethora of answers such as injury prevention, maintaining range of motion, enhanced performance and comfort in day to day activities like bending over to pick something up off the floor. With each year of aging we not only loose muscle mass, our muscles and connective tissues tighten if not elongated regularly. In H.M.M Cross-training this portion always follows resistance training so that after the strong contractions of the muscles, they can be stretched and soothed, which is a big reason why clients leave feeling great and not haggard and aching. This can take the form of basic stretching, both dynamic and static, or follow more developed programs that we like to use such as yoga and Pilates.

MIND - Relaxation

What does Mind have to do with Training your Body?
I want everyone to understand that the mind and body are one and should not be treated separately nor should the mind be ignored in the perfection of the body.
The condition of mind directly effects the condition of the body and vice versa. Think of your mental state when you are sick or injured or the way your body feels when you are depressed or angry. Studies prove the connection is real and the the medical community now warn of the dire consequences of not addressing the stress and anxiety in our lives. Chronic mental stress causes heart attacks and debilitating panic attacks. On a lower level mental stresses manifest themselves as headaches, back pain/tension and distractions that kill our motivation for taking good care of our bodies. For example, under stress many people end up bingeing on fast food (or starving themselves), working too much and sleeping too little all of which are real physical consequences deriving from one's mental state.

fusion cross-trainingWhile the mind can be a major detriment to our bodily health, it can also be the key to achieving optimal health. The beauty of it is that the choice to use our minds to support our health or eat away at it is ours on a daily basis. Of course our Western culture provides little training on how to deal with natural and self inflicted stresses, so we need to each learn the tools and methods for de-stressing our bodies, namely: exercise, stretching, breathing and any enjoyable, focused activities that allow our minds to lighten and let go of the life issues that we generate stress around.

With this understanding of the physical effects on our bodies of the full range of emotional states, we can open your perspective about fitness and wellness to be more than just working out and eating, it has to be a complete lifestyle, HEART.MUSCLE.MIND. In H.M.M Cross-training the stress relieving, focus and relaxation starts during flexibility training and culminates in final rest, the few minutes of quiet, complete stillness and breathing that lowers our heart rate and clears our mental palette allowing our body and mind to restore and begin healing itself after a challenging workout. These few minutes can be transformative in creating a positive workout experience and jump starting the
renewing process.

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