In our society, if you want someone to take notice of a product, label it “extreme”. It seems like everything is extreme now.
“This is the new and extreme version of potato chips, the flavor is EXTREME!”
“Volume 2 of our exercise system is even more extreme than volume 1!”
Just because something is extreme, doesn’t mean that it’s good for you.
Extreme exercise systems have been growing in popularity recently, and The New York Times ran an article discussing this topic. These extreme exercise systems espouse the theory that they train you not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable. They claim to “forge elite fitness”.
But just because something is extreme, doesn’t mean that it is good for you. The marketers who use the term “extreme”, “elite”, “insane”, are playing on the thought that if a little bit of something is good for you, then a lot of it must be even better.
That is not always the case though. Vitamins are a great example. The right amount of vitamins can help your body to function at a higher level and can prevent injuries and illnesses. But take too much of a vitamin and it can build up to toxic levels in your body and cause an illness.
Exercise is the same. Mild to moderate exercise is sufficient and suitable for most people. Too much exercise, too much intensity or too much impact, will cause the muscles and body to break down and eventually will cause an injury.
As humans we live in a complex world that puts undo stress on our bodies. Some people take the perspective that if they have a physical job, that job will keep them in shape. I look at it as you have to keep yourself in shape if you want to be able to keep performing your job. Otherwise your body will break down and you’ll have to stop working eventually.
Most people who want to exercise, aren’t looking to get into crazy, extreme, insane shape. Most people want to feel good so that they can perform regular, activities of daily life that are repetitive and are responsible for most of the pain and injuries that we suffer from.
Most people want to keep themselves in shape to deal with real world stresses such as: gardening, golfing, lifting luggage into an overhead compartment, travel, walking, chasing after your kids or grandkids, etc.
In my experience, many of the people who want to start a new exercise routine haven’t exercised consistently in years, are overweight, and are in pain, who have been told by their doctor that they need to start consistent exercising to prevent their disease processes from getting worse.
Most of these people can’t handle an extreme exercise system. If they tried to start an extreme exercise routine, they will only injure themselves and have to stop exercising. This is due to a few factors.
First off, as we age our bodies don’t recover as quickly as we did when were in our 20’s. Also, as we age we build up wear and tear and have more of a history of injuries. This wear and tear and prior areas of injury and trauma are easily injured and irritated the older we get.
If you are in good shape, and have been exercising consistently for years, and looking to get into better shape, then an extreme exercise system is for you. If you have very little pain and are looking to get faster, stronger, leaner or any other changes to your body, then an extreme exercise system is right for you.
But, if you are overweight, haven’t exercised in over a year, have chronic pain, are past age 40, then extreme exercises are not for you.
Extreme exercise systems are great if you can stick with them. Statistically, 73.5% of those who participate in extreme exercise systems will injure themselves and have to stop exercising. If you are in good shape and looking to get into better shape, these extreme exercise systems are great. The issue is sticking with the programs long enough to get any benefit out of them. Only 25% of those who participate in these programs will be able to stick with them long enough to get any benefit.
So why are people flocking to these extreme exercise programs? I believe it is partially due to lack of knowledge. Most people that I encounter think that they have to go hard and have to be in pain in order to get into shape. This is not the case. You can be in shape and feel good, and get all the benefits from being in shape, and still be overweight.
These extreme exercise systems play on the fact that most people want to look like they are a ripped and lean 20 year old. This is simply not realistic. Sure, some people have the genetics to be ripped and lean and look like they are in their 20s when they are really in their 40s or 50s. Just like some people have the genetics to withstand the pounding of extreme exercise, or marathon training, or iron man triathlon training. Not everyone has the genetic makeup to become a professional athlete, no matter how hard they train. And some people have the genetic makeup that will prevent them from having 6 pack abs.
If you haven’t exercised in over a year, are overweight, are in pain, or over age 40, then the extreme exercise programs are not for you. Stick with low impact and low intensity exercising. This will prevent injury and keep you feeling good. This strategy will allow you to stick with exercise for the rest of your life so that you can continue to reap the benefits. This strategy will prevent injury and will decrease pain.
Don’t fall for the “extreme” marketing that we are all subjected to now concerning exercise. Exercise smarter, not harder. If you are not 21 anymore, then don’t exercise like you are. You will feel much better for it in the long run.
This, is the Pain Free way.
Here are a few other articles that I wrote on the topic of extreme exercise programs: