Concentrating only on cardio-vascular exercise would probably leave you thin and very wiry; in other words, fit and healthy but not in a position to take on the rigours of SAS selection or P-Company where you have to carry heavy weights about.

THE EXERCISES DESCRIBED in MMA Fit fall into two groups. Cardio-vascular exercises — the first group — build endurance by making your heart, lungs and circulation more efficient and adaptable. The second group, power exercises, build strength in individual muscles and muscle groups

Aerobic and Anaerobic

You build up endurance by using aerobic cardiovascular exercises. Aerobic means ‘with air’ — you exercise using the air you are taking in through your lungs. ‘Anaerobic’ exercises, on the other hand, like sprinting, only use the small amount of oxygen that is stored in your muscles. Typical aerobic exercises include running, swimming, cycling, walking, rowing and cross-country skiing; the sort of ‘aerobics’ practised at sports centres and gyms has only a nodding acquaintance with fitness training, though undoubtedly it makes you feel better.

The aim of aerobic exercises is to raise your heart rate into the training range where the ‘overload principle’ comes into effect. If you can maintain your heart at that rate for about 30 minutes, your body will ‘realize’ that your heart has been overloaded and it will compensate by building extra muscle in the heart and improving your circulatory system to allow you to do it again. The next time you take that form of exercise, you should find it marginally easier, because your body will have adapted towards being able to do it.

Power Training

The missing ingredient is power training. Cardiovascular work will improve your heart and lungs, but only power training builds the sheer strength and physical toughness that goes with being truly fit.

Arnie Schwal7enegger is an excellent example of the results of an enormous amount of power training (and, alas, some steroid abuse when he was younger). His incredible physique has been developed to the upper limits by the careful use of weight-training routines designed to maximize muscle bulk (and therefore strength), combined with a diet formulated to assist the process. Not that Schwarzenegger would be likely to pass SAS selection; watch him try to run in any of his films, and you will soon see that his physique hampers the movement of his legs. Having trained his body for strength and bulk, Schwarzenegger is not built for endurance — although I imagine that he would be very fast over short distances because of his immense muscle power.

Achieving a Balance

A soldier who turned up for SAS selection or P-Company without having achieved the right balance between power and endurance would be in for a lot of heartache. Without the cardio-vascular endurance to run for io miles or march for 40, he’s. Not going to make it; but without the strength in his back and shoulders, he’s not going to be able to carry the loads. In normal life as well, sticking to one form of exercise is unsatisfactory. You will always get more benefit from a balanced, all-round programme if you wish to achieve a better level of health and fitness.

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