Maffetone has used that knowledge to develop The Maffetone method, his successful low-stress fitness program, which can be tailored to any individual. It means "training slower to go faster," says Mike Pigg, world champion triathlete and Maffetone client. The Maffetone Method includes: A ten step program to reduce stress and increase overall fitness; Exercise techniques designed for increased results with decreased pain; The real lowdown on some of those fad diets. In short, this is a fitness regimen for champions that everyone can use to reach their own goals whether it be running a marathon or walking around the block.
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About the Author
Dr. Maffetone was named Coach of the Year in 1994 by Triathlete magazine. He served as chairman of the International College of Applied Kinesiology from 1990 to 1994. His recent general audience books include In Fitness and in Health and Training for Endurance; Complementary Sports Medicine, a textbook, was published in 1999. Dr. Maffetone continues to write and lecture extensively on sports, exercise, diet, and nutrition, and complementary medicine, and his work is seen in many magazines throughout the world. He is currently president of the MAF Group, which publishes the Maffetone Report.
Read an Excerpt
The Maffetone Method
The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness
By Philip Maffetone
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2000 Philip Maffetone
All rights reserved.
The medical literature is full of studies showing the benefits of working out. But rarely are we told how to do it right. And the media doesn't help—with images of fast-paced aerobic dance classes, marathoners sprinting to the finish and collapsing, and of course all those pictures that portray "the agony of defeat."
Proper exercise has two primary components. One is that it's done in a balanced way; in particular this means that it should comprise a balance between aerobic and anaerobic exercise and the right training equation. This is the educated approach. When this path is taken, you can obtain the full benefits of exercise, including increased fat burning and energy and many others discussed in this book. The other primary component is fun. This is a very simple and straightforward concept. Working out is fun when it is properly done. Throughout this book I discuss a variety of components of a fitness program that can reduce or eliminate the fun of exercise when they are not done right. This applies especially to balance.
In a sense, this is a book on the educational aspects of exercise. It should also inspire you, clear up the many myths you encounter, and help you modify, fine-tune, or start a program based on your needs. Unfortunately, most people get caught up in a guessing game when it comes to working out. If you're going to guess, you're most likely going to get in trouble, in which case you might actually be better off as a couch potato. In short, don't just do it, do it right.
Before taking the first step, or improving your current program, you should understand some very important exercise concepts. Not only will they help you understand exercise better but they can help you avoid the common regression periods that most exercisers encounter. In addition, if you can define the various components of exercise, you'll be able to ignore the commercials for ab machines, the lure of overtraining, and the "no pain, no gain" myth, whether from trainers, exercise partners, or family members. In short, once you understand the big picture, you'll accomplish your goals and have fun doing it.
A main focus of this book is balance. Therefore, concepts are often paired. Like the Chinese concept of opposites—yin and yang—these paired concepts help set the stage for a more complete understanding. If we don't have balance, we create imbalance, which can lead to various physical, chemical, and mental signs and symptoms called injuries.
There's no better teaching tool than experience. We all have experiences, and ideally we learn from them. One of my more profound experiences was getting back into shape after a long period of stress and illness. I was nearing the end of my school years and ready to enter private practice. But physical illness due to stress had sidelined me. I was not just inactive and run down: on several occasions I had to be hospitalized.
As part of the recovery process I decided to begin walking. At first, even when I ascended a short flight of stairs I had to stop halfway to rest. A 10-minute walk was my limit. But soon I was walking 20, 25, and then 30 minutes. As I started to feel better, my walk became a bit more brisk, and a year later I was walking 45 minutes to an hour five days a week.
One day, following my walk, I watched the Boston Marathon on TV. "These people are really healthy, if they can run 26 miles," I thought. After more than two years of walking, I wondered how healthy I really was, and I thought that perhaps I should "test" myself. I thought the New York City Marathon, at the end of the year, would be a good test of my health. I was a great runner in high school and in college, and it would be good to run again. So I began walking faster, gradually working some jogging into my workouts, and eventually I began to run longer. All this training led to my marathon test.
The cannon that announced the start of the marathon was so loud that it shook the Verrazano Bridge. The crowd of 18,000 runners began to move. All went well through the first 10 miles. Though the excitement made me run a bit quicker than I had planned, I felt great. By 15 miles I felt as I had expected: tired but able to continue. Within the next couple of miles, however, I began to shiver. Even though I had been drinking plenty of water, I was dehydrated. And I was craving cotton candy. How odd that seemed.
After about 18 miles I no longer could feel my feet. I stopped to have a look: they were numb but still there. That was when I began talking to myself. "My hamstrings are cramping," I said out loud. At the same time, I realized that I wasn't thinking rationally. All I could remember was my goal: to finish the race, proving that I was healthy.
Apparently I looked worse than I felt, for two officials tried to take me off the course, but I wouldn't stop. Somehow I fought my way through the next few miles. I knew the end was near because I was in Central Park—a discovery I made when I ran into a TV camera in the middle of the road. As the pain became more intense, the crowds got louder, and for the first time in quite a while I had a clear view. I could see the finish line. I have very little memory of those last few miles, but I'll always remember the finale.
Someone hung a medal around my neck, my reward for finishing, and what little fluid was in me came out as tears. I recall thinking that I had passed the test: I had proved that I was healthy. But something wasn't right.
The next thing I knew, I was in the first-aid tent near the finish line. Lying on the dozens of cots in the tent were finishers who were clearly in pain and who were being treated by doctors, nurses, and EMTs. But proud finishers they were. Looking around I asked myself, "Are these people really healthy" I knew then that I hadn't really proved my health. But I had learned an important lesson, one that would benefit not only me but also those I would work with for decades to come: I had made myself fit enough to run 26.2 miles, but this fitness was different from health. From that point on, I thought about my new goal. I would improve my health and balance it with fitness.
Health and Fitness
Two words tossed around as casually as a pair of running shoes are health and fitness. But the difference between them forms the foundation of an exercise philosophy and a workout ethic.
Health is a state in which all the body's parts, including the muscles, nerves, bones, hormones, organs, and glands, are in balance, or what some call "harmony." A perfect state of health may not be attainable, but always improving our health is something we can all strive for.
Unfortunately, many people assume that health necessarily declines with age. While it is common for health to decline with age, the decline need not be significant. The more we care for our body, the healthier it will become and the longer we will be able to withstand the adverse effects of aging. We have the potential to increase our brain power as we age, get into great physical shape, perhaps the best shape of our lives, and to feel better than ever. This is one of the benefits of proper exercise.
Fitness is the ability to be physically active. For some, this means working out; for others, it means playing tennis again after years of disability; and for some it means being a Master's athlete. If you work out four times a week, you're probably more fit than the person who doesn't exercise. If you win your club's tennis tournament, you're the fittest tennis player there.
But your fitness does not necessarily reflect your health. And being healthy won't necessarily make you a fit athlete. Health and fitness are two different things. What's important is to balance the two, to become both as healthy and as fit as possible considering your potential, schedule, and desires.
A common imbalance in industrialized societies exists in the person who is fit but unhealthy. The majority of athletes—the thousands I've seen in practice—fit this description. They strive to get into better and better shape through training, but often at the expense of their health. Take, for example, the injuries. With few exceptions, an injury is due to a decline in the health of the person who's injured. (Exceptions include major trauma, such as from a fall from a bike or a collision with another player.)
Most injuries arise from a long-standing imbalance in a person's health, such as a muscular imbalance (which can cause an injury to the bone, joint, or muscle), a nutritional problem (e.g., a calcium deficiency, which can in turn result in weak bones, which can lead to a stress fracture), or a nervous-system stress caused by improper exercise shoes (resulting in a knee problem).
Some individuals are willing to sacrifice their health in order to achieve more fitness, such as by taking performance-enhancing drugs. But more common are those who want to lose weight or get into shape in an unreasonably short time. These people may exercise excessively, causing an injury. This scenario is common in January, after many people abuse themselves over the holidays, and again in the spring, when they want to be sure they will be able to fit into their summer clothes. Others suddenly decide to get into shape fast. This often occurs after seeing an infomercial for some new exercise gadget or reading about a special rate at the local gym or in anticipation of an upcoming fortieth birthday. Attempting to make up for lost time is another way to develop an imbalance between health and fitness.
Health A state in which all the body's parts, including the muscles, nerves, bones, hormones, organs, and glands, are in balance.
Fitness The ability to be physically active.
Aerobic and Anaerobic
Both aerobic and anaerobic refer to specific systems in the body, much like the many other systems you may be more familiar with, such as the digestive, skeletal, and muscular systems.
Ask most exercisers what the word aerobic means, and you'll hear words like breathing and oxygen. These definitions came out of academic circles, especially in relation to microbes (some need oxygen to survive, others are destroyed by oxygen). There are also complex processes in the body that can be labeled aerobic and anaerobic. But humans are not microbes, and our whole body requires oxygen to live, so I choose not to use the definition of aerobic associated with oxygen or breathing.
A more important and practical distinction of aerobic function is that it is related to the use of body fat for energy. All muscles need energy to work—to carry us through the day and especially through a workout. Although aerobic muscles also burn sugar (glucose) for energy, these muscles can also burn significant amounts of body fat for energy.
Not only can the aerobic muscles burn fat but they are well endowed with blood vessels and have many other benefits (see chapter 4). Aerobic muscle fibers are sometimes referred to as "red" because of the numerous blood vessels they contain and because of the presence of myoglobin, a pigment containing iron. Throughout this book I often refer to the more efficient fat-burning mechanism and other important benefits of proper aerobic exercise.
Unfortunately, if your body's aerobic system is not well developed, you won't be able to burn much fat. Not only will you store this substance (on your hips, thighs, and maybe even in your blood vessels) but you'll have to rely on the anaerobic system to provide you with energy.
The fat-burning capability of the aerobic system truly sets it apart from the body's anaerobic function, which is associated with sugar burning. Anaerobic muscle fibers don't burn fat. They get their energy from glycogen, a form of sugar stored in muscles and the liver, and from blood sugar. These reserves are relatively scarce compared with fat stores (even in lean individuals), supplying energy only for a short period of time. If we relied only on these sources of energy, we'd have only a few minutes worth of energy and then we'd be exhausted. This is the system used in sprinting, whether on the track or when running for the bus. More important, it's also the system that is stimulated when you're under stress. And worse, too much anaerobic stimulation, from exercise or stress, can impair aerobic function. (The important relationship between exercise and stress is discussed in chapter 2.)
It's important to note that measuring the body's capacity to burn fat is relatively easy (although not always convenient). You can determine the amount of fat and sugar your body uses with a gas analyzer, which measures the carbon dioxide you breathe out and the oxygen you take in. For example, while riding a stationary bike, walking or running on a treadmill, or even at rest, you breathe into a tube, where your carbon dioxide and oxygen are collected. The amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen collected can be used to determine the amount and percentage of fat and sugar burned at specific levels of intensity, measured by heart rate. For example, during easy exercise your body may obtain 90 percent of its energy from sugar and only 10 percent from fat. This might indicate that your aerobic system is not functioning as efficiently as it might. Proper exercise over a three-month period could result in improvements to your aerobic system; for example, your body might get 50 percent of its energy from sugar and 50 percent from fat. With more aerobic improvements, you might burn even more fat for energy during exercise, which also means you'll burn more fat even when you're sleeping!
Aerobic The ability to obtain more energy through increased fat burning.
Anaerobic The increased use of sugar for energy, and diminished fat burning.
Activity and Exercise
Many people place exercise in a neat little box; they treat it as a separate routine to be set aside for certain days. But exercise can be defined as purposeful activity, usually done separate and apart from the normal daily chores. In a real sense, it provides us with physical movement no longer provided for in the course of a normal day. You could say that exercise is an artificial way to induce activity.
Consider that the human body has evolved with very high levels of natural physical activity as a primary function. Physical activity has helped us to protect ourselves, to secure food, and to shelter ourselves for millions of years. Unfortunately, only in the past few decades have humans dramatically reduced their natural level of physical activity. Enter exercise.
Exercise becomes the separate habit most of us need to employ just to maintain a level of physical activity closer to normal. In a sense, exercise is artificial activity. Better to do that than risk falling into a "deficiency" of exercise, resulting in the aerobic deficiency syndrome (see chapter 9).
As our population ages, fewer of us remember the high levels of natural activity performed by our parents or grandparents. A typical day was a very active one, beginning with morning chores, including making breakfast, bringing in wood for the fire, feeding the animals, or other activities. Some of us still perform these tasks today, but most of us take the elevator to the first floor at work, spend extra time finding a parking place close to the front door of the store, and use the microwave or the food processor to whip up some fast food or get takeouts. Through exercise we can make up for the potential deficiencies created by living in a modern industrialized society.
In addition to finding time for a short period of artificial activity, whether it's a walk, an aerobics class, or time in front of the TV on a stationary bike, we can make a few changes in our daily life that will bring back some of our lost natural activity. Here are some ideas:
* When going shopping, park farther from, instead of closer to, the store. This will give your body some more walking to and from the store. It may also keep those annoying dents off your car.
* If you're going up or down a flight or two in your office building, apartment, or hotel, take the stairs. For most people, even walking three or four flights down is not taxing.
* If you take the subway to work, get off a station before or after your normal stop and walk a few extra blocks. It can serve as a time for meditation before work and mental recovery after.
* At lunchtime, take the long way to the cafeteria. The extra distance can provide a time to relax, which can be good for digestion. A slow stroll back to work would be great too.
* When waiting for the bus, airplane, train, or people you're meeting, don't just stand there: walk back and forth. So what if others think you're pacing. They may eventually follow suit.
Excerpted from The Maffetone Method by Philip Maffetone. Copyright © 2000 by Philip Maffetone. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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Table of ContentsForeword, by Mark Allen
The Maffetone Method Questionnaire; The Method; Is Your Workout Working?; Too Fat?; Are You Aerobically Deficient?
Part 1: Understanding the Basics
1. Defining Exercise
Health and Fitness; Aerobic and Anaerobic; Muscle Fibers; Go Aerobic; Activity and Exercise; Training and Endurance; Overtraining and Undertraining
2. Exercise and Stress
Stressed Out?; Any of These Sound Familiar?; Effects of Excess Stress; Stages of the Stress Reaction; The General Adaptation Syndrome; Your Stress List; Simple Ways to Avoid Stress; Exercises That Increase Stress; Stress Testing
3. The Structural, Chemical, and Mental Aspects of Exercise
Structural Benefits; Chemical Benefits; Mental Benefits
4. Developing Maximum Aerobic Function
Measuring Fat Burning; Top Reasons for Increased Body Fat; Why Build an Aerobic Base?
5. Developing the Anaerobic System
Anaerobic Training; Sample One-Hour Workouts; Build Your Base; Summary of Anaerobic Benefits
6. Exercise and Heart Rate
Measuring Your Heart Rate; 220 or 180-Formula?; The 180-Formula; Modifying Your Heart Rate
7. The Use of Heart Rate Monitors
The Maximum Aerobic Function Test; Steady Progress; MAF Test and Competition
8. Warming Up, Cooling Down, and Stretching
Warming Up; Cooling Down; The Right Rate; Active Warm-Up and Recovery in Competition; Stretching; Even for Golf
9. The Aerobic Deficiency Syndrome
Quantity versus Quality of Life; ADS; Correcting ADS
10. The Overtraining Syndrome
Three Stages of Overtraining; Menstrual Problems and Overtraining; Correction of Overtraining
Part 2: Individualizing Your Program
11. A New Beginning: Starting Your Program
Start Simply; Walking; Children and Exercise; Other Activities; Exercises to Avoid; Starting Out: Exercises to Avoid; Your First Workout
12. Modifying Your Program
Is Your Workout Working?; Goals, Equipment, Aerobic Base; Frustration; Direction and Measurement
13. Rehabilitation: Restoring Your Youth
Quality of Life; Heart Disease; Blood Fats; Hypertension; Blood-Sugar Problems; Osteoporosis; Rehabilitation; Walking in Water
14. Changing with the Seasons
Spring; Summer; Fall; Winter; Dressing for Successful Exercise; SAD
15. Exercise Footwear: Finding the Right Shoe
How Shoes Can Cause Stress; Arch Function; Taping and Other Joint Support; Other Ankle Dysfunction; Proper Shoe Fit; How to Buy Athletic Shoes
16. Anatomy of an Injury
NSAIDs; The Structural Injury; The Chemical Injury; The Mental or Emotional Injury; Mending Your Own Injury; The Correct Therapy
17. The Diaphragm Muscle
The Diaphragm and the Abdominals; Breathing in Step
18. If Einstein Were Your Coach
Bad Timing; Relative Timing
19. Training Schedules for Competition
A Marked Improvement; Less Is More
20. Diet and Nutrition
General Dietary Recommendations; The Top Diet Dos and Don'ts; Carbohydrate Intolerance; The Two-Week Test; The Importance of Snacking to Burn Fat; Follow the Plan; Balancing Dietary Fat; The Good, Bad, and Ugly Fats