Body for Life

Best routines for keeping fit

Okay, you are sold on the basic sanity of Fit or Fat, (reviewed here) but what do you actually do today? I mean where do you start? The best answer to that question is Body for Life, which pound for pound has more motivating specifics than anywhere else. The catalyst is a simple bargain: you can change the shape and fit of your body in twelve weeks if you are willing to work reasonably hard with a reasonably flexible plan manageable by most busy people. I figured I could stand almost anything for twelve weeks, if it produced results. Well, it worked for me at least, much better than I expected, and it has apparently worked for many others, judging from the photos and the constant friend-of-a-friend referrals this book produces. Most importantly, once your body reshapes itself (this is not about losing weight), the logic of Body for Life (the same as Fit or Fat) becomes habit.

-- KK 04/20/04


"Before" and "after" snapshots of participants in a contest to see how much they could change their bodies in twelve weeks.

Myth: aerobics is better for shaping up than weight training.
Fact: To transform your physique, you must train with weights.

Myth: Muscles grow while you're working out.
Fact: Muscles grow while you are resting and recuperating.

Myth: Lifting a weight is what stimulates muscle growth.
Fact: Lifting and lowering a weight stimulates muscle growth.

Enough evidence now exists to concretely state that lowering the weight is just as important as lifting it. It's true. It turns out that weight lowering causes much of the muscle-cell damage that stimulates an adaptation. You see, when you lengthen the muscle, which occurs during that eccentric portion of an exercise, you literally tear portions of the muscle fibers, signaling a stage of remodeling, or muscle growth. (You'll know when you've experienced this phenomenon because a day or two after your workout, your muscles will be sore. That's a sign that the "earth has moved.")

When you apply the Intensity Index properly to both your resistance training and aerobic workouts, you'll never hit the ceiling. You'll always move up to higher and higher high points. And that means you'll continually be stimulating your muscles while losing fat. You'll become more metabolically efficient. Your body will burn fat at a significantly elevated rate, even while you're sitting at your desk or driving your car or reading a book...even while you're sleeping.

This graph demonstrates the pattern of strength-building aerobics. To maximize a twenty-minute workout, you must press toward your maximum effort and "break through" your intensity level.

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