By Dr. Cory Altabet, D.C
I think we can all agree on that answer being, yes. This is why it is vital to any anti-aging and health regime to exercise as many components of your metabolism, nerves and muscles as possible in ways similar to our youth.
When we are young, in order to engage in sports like tennis, basketball and wrestling, we need to have a mind body connection through the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that can handle the multitasking ability to incorporate rapidly shifting complex movement from different body parts simultaneously. Let's not also forget that this is being done under the duress of physical exhaustion and mental strategy.
When you are young, the nerve circuitry that connects the mind and body will develop according to the needs I just described. When you no longer use that connection, it will rewire into a new connection that supports your current mental/physical connection because the old connection from your youth becomes baggage.
Many people as they get out of high school and college will no longer participate in organized sports. Their nervous system will adapt with a new, less complex connection to the muscles and other involved aspects both known and unknown.
This is certainly not associated with your youth. Getting back into these organized sports will help re-grow connections that are associated with youth, but this is not the case for many, as their life has no room for regular participation all year around that's needed to maintain youthful mind body connections.
Can the Fountain of Youth be as Easy as Swimming Fast in It?
As of yet, we can't reverse baseline biological aging but we can slow it down and reverse the exaggerated effects of aging due to an unhealthy lifestyle and toxic environment. As part of an anti-aging lifestyle regime I call the Brutal Anatomy Protocol™ (BAP), I added a multitasking exercise routine that incorporates complex full body motions that use simultaneous super-fast and super-slow resistance body movements, all while under the duress of high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Of course there is nothing better than actually doing the competitive sports and varieties of them, but the BAP exercise routine can be used by many as a convenient alternative that should fit into a hectic life easily. The BAP exercises can be adapted to any physical level of fitness to suit advanced athletes as well as beginners.
For serious amateurs or professional athletes, BAP can be used in addition to many other training routines for an enhanced competitive edge due to its effects on coordination of the mind/body, and coordination of core muscles in relation to the rest of the body. You can strengthen the core but a true athlete needs to coordinate the core with the rest of the body for skilled explosive power.
Please note that the BAP exercise routine is not a "cure all" for a sedentary lifestyle but it would certainly give you tremendous gains done by itself. For ideal health and longevity, in addition to the high intensity BAP exercises and other forms of HIIT, you need a balanced active lifestyle. This should include moderate intensity exercise in the form of recreational or productive exercise, stretching (Yoga), posture care, and muscle and joint maintenance care, like massage and Chiropractic.
Keep in mind that strength/resistance training is part of the BAP exercise routine. Those are all major contributors to optimal fitness but certainly not limited to that list of course. BAP exercises should be used to "up the bar" on your already active lifestyle not replace it. If you only have a minimum of time, BAP exercises would be my top choice because they cover many important aspects of fitness in one short routine that takes 10 to 15 minutes, plus a few minutes of warm up time and cool down.
I say this because the BAP exercises accomplish the aerobic and anaerobic aspects that affect cardiovascular health, strength and enhancement to the brain/body connection through a more complex nerve circuitry.
Why do BAP Exercises Work so Well?
BAP exercises take advantage of mental and physical associations to survival to help maximize the efficiency of adaptation. This results in "more bang for the buck" from the time invested in exercise. Using survival associations for adaptive efficiency is especially helpful since we are using low weight for safety and short duration for convenience. This concept certainly needs explaining.
Deep within our genetic code, we are programmed so that anything associated with survival is given high growth priority when it comes time to adapt to enhance your ability to stay alive as long and as functional as possible, which is the goal of our innate intelligence. Associations made by the mind/brain are a key part of survival. Isn't that obvious? Yes, but taken for granted on how powerful it is and how it can be applied to your health both physical and mental.
The BAP exercises are going to use survival associations to gain health but in order to support the concept of using associations, there are plenty of examples of how associations can ruin health or give health when you break those associations.
The late L. Ron Hubbard made a worldwide "self-help" empire of Scientology concepts based on breaking unneeded associations we make while under mental duress. He called these associations Engrams. Although Scientology is quite controversial, there are millions that have been helped because of understanding the concepts of associations made by the brain during emotional duress. Also, Dr. Mercola promotes a technique called EFT that uses energy techniques to break unneeded associations such as unnecessary fears.
For the most convincing proof of associations from a more objective, scientific standpoint, our brain anatomy shows us in "black and white" that we have nerves that go from our nose straight to the limbic brain, bypassing the route where sensory information goes to the brain cortex first for conscious processing.
This direct communication line from the nose to the limbic brain allows us to make strong associations of smells to trigger emotions, memories and sexual behavior. So for the purpose of BAP exercises, we will use associations to survival actions in a positive manner that should generate efficient adaptive growth that helps lead to a body that is brutal against the toxic world we live in.
Much research has shown that exercising your brain with complex mental tasks help keep your brain young, but just as critical for your youth is to exercise your mind/body connection with complex, rapid activity while under physical duress. More specifically, here is the concept that supports BAP exercises. Since we are associating the mind/body complexity and strength with rapid activity and physical duress, we are going to enhance adaptation to the associated strength and multitasking aspects of BAP exercises. Just to be clear, the associated aspects will be strength enhancement and rewiring the brain/body connection for a more youthful connection. There is plenty of science to support this concept.
What is the Lifesaving Formula Built in Our DNA?
The autonomic nerve system is responsible for controlling unconscious functions, such as metabolic and blood changes to support a particular need for the body at any given time. Of the two parts of the autonomic nervous system, the BAP exercises are concerned with the sympathetic division, which is responsible for generating the fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nerve system will get you ready for serious action by instantly warming your muscles with extra blood flow, pumping adrenalin into that blood flow, stimulating goal achievement through the roof, and shutting down your rational thought which interferes with rapid lifesaving "knee jerk" reactions. This part of the nerve system is designed to save your life, thus extend it.
We are internally designed so that when life is at stake, such as escaping to prevent yourself from being food, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in full gear. In a split second, you will be moving rapidly and be under physical and emotional duress due the most fundamental lifesaving technique of all time. That is sprinting. During physical and emotional duress, the mind is subconsciously recording everything that is going on and associating it with survival. So the rapid motion of sprinting is permanently imbedded into our innate memory as being associated with survival since the beginning of time. So anything done regularly enough while sprinting is going to be recorded into the fight-or-flight mechanism and be associated with massive stimulation of the sympathetic nerve system (the life saving system).
Associations made during emotional duress fits in BAP exercises due to the emotional response to physical duress. Remember that things are more easily recorded and associated under emotional duress. This is where HIIT incorporated into BAP exercise comes into play. The 30-second sprint followed by the 90-second rest period repeated 8 times consecutively is going to generate some major physical duress followed where emotional duress is soon to follow in the final moments of pushing yourself to finish. This is recognized by grunts and groans and accompanied facial grimaces of pain as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone – the key to growth. This will act as a magnet to pull in anything done at that time and the association will be burned into memory.
During BAP exercises, strength and mind/body complexity are integrated simultaneously into HIIT. The strength and complexity will then be associated with deep imbedded sprinting survival skills and especially hard wired in due to the emotional and physical duress. The body should give high priority to adapting to strength and complexity as if they were just as important as the sprinting survival skill. The result is giving you the most "bang for your buck" in recuperative power during adaptation. Adaptation is simply a growth response to acute stress that enables you to experience the same stress more efficiently in terms of easier survival leading to longer life. Again, that is the goal of your innate life force. If you did not respond this way to acute stress, you would break down and eventually perish. It is these concepts that are the backbone of BAP exercises, but there is still more for even deeper understanding of how BAP exercises work.
Let's Steal Super Powers with the Oldest Trick in the Book
When you smell/taste your favorite food, do you salivate? Add a bell every time you smell that food and eventually just ringing the bell makes you salivate. (Ivan Pavlov –1901) This shows us that the autonomic nervous system is heavily interconnected to the brain's limbic system where learned associations are easily integrated into cause and effect responses. Integrating strength and complexity into the extreme survival state (sprinting under duress) will teach the body that it is needed for survival by association during fight-or-flight status. Adaptive responses to the new associated stimuli are subject to the same adaptive response intensity as the primary stimulus such as sprinting. Sprinting is given high priority for adaptive recovery compared to adaptations of less survival importance.
So you are teaching your body that strength and mind body complexity are not only needed during intense survival mode (fight or flight) but also that they should get the same priority as sprinting under duress gets for adaptive recovery. The more the association is experienced the stronger the adaptive response will be to the new associations. This means that the magic of BAP exercises will develop over time when repeated regularly. The bottom line is that BAP exercises should give you more adaptive response to strength and complexity compared to doing the same exercises separately from sprinting under duress. Keep in mind that the comparison between the two uses the same intensity of muscle and complexity work. Also to keep in mind, that this is not being compared to the muscle gains you get from focused weight training such as single bicep concentration curls, which allows you to focus on more intensity by engaging all your resources to that single task. The focus of BAP exercise is longevity in a toxic world.
By Now, You Have to Ask Yourself This.
Is there any support that sprinting is given high priority during the adaptive response? A quote from one of Dr. Mercola's fitness articles sheds some light:
This shows us that in order to survive during rapid motion, we need less fat in and on our muscles to make us faster due to less mechanical restriction from fat and lighter weight from less fat. So this shows us that sprinting gets a high priority for adaptation responses compared to slower types of exercise movements since they are not related to survival. BAP exercises are geared toward getting the body to see that strength and complexity training deserves the same high priority response as interval sprinting.
"Researchers believe this type of exercise works because it produces a unique metabolic response. Intermittent sprinting produces higher levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which stimulate more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles."
First, like you would with any intense workout, you need to warm up for a few minutes and during your warm up try to sense if you have any obvious restrictions in motions that need to be addressed before you engage in intense exercise. A deep muscle therapist or Chiropractor can help prevent injuries due to dysfunctional muscle tissue from old injuries, a sedentary lifestyle or posture problems. Your warm-up can be as simple as jumping jacks or jogging in place followed by a short stretching routine as described in in the beginning of my sprinting prep video.
The most advanced version of BAP exercises is most appropriate for people with experienced fitness ability. The instructions here will start with the advanced routine and end with the basic routine for beginners. You should work your way up to a level that matches your inherent ability. As you will see, the exercises are not only physically demanding but also require mentally coordinating your body in ways you are not used to. In the beginning this can lend to issues with good form, so it is important that you gradually work your way up to maximum speed and maximum weight amounts. Because you are using light weight and going very slow, small deviations in form while lifting should not lead to injuries. Most injuries are from lack of warming up and working out with dysfunctional or damaged muscles that may not even be conscious of.
There are six different exercises that you do in sequence with a 90-second rest between each exercise. Each exercise will have part of your body do a speed motion while simultaneously another part of your body does a super slow resisted motion with hand weights or your body weight. You need to choose a weight that will get you to fail in 2-4 reps where the reps are defined as 10 seconds up and 5 seconds down. Once you get to failure, you hold for five seconds as you continue to push the weight even though you can't move it up any further. Keep in mind that the speed motion in the other half of your body is stealing tremendous resources of fuel and mental effort from the super-slow weighted portion of your body. This is part of the BAP exercise magic that allows you to reach failure rapidly in the super-slow contracting muscles. This is why you can use less weight for safety but reach failure rapidly for resistance stimulation you need for strengthening the muscle.
There is no particular order of the six exercises and it is important to change the sequence of them regularly since you want to have your body experience each exercise at different levels of fatigue. And as you can imagine, the last few exercises are going to be brutal. This allows for different types of stimulation under various levels of fatigue to create muscle confusion preventing plateaus in growth. The routine can be done 1-3 times per week depending on your ability to recover and your ability to push yourself and punish your body. Use the same workout frequency rules as you would with any HIT work out.
- Super-slow squat with sprinting arms: This is the easiest exercise where you will sprint your arms as if you were running very fast but keeping your feet stationary as you simultaneously do super slow squats. Do not straighten your knees and hips as you go up. Straighten your knees to about 160 degrees and bend them on the way down to 45 degrees. Be sure to listen to your body's restrictions here and don't stress your knees by going too low for your knee ability. You can wear a weight vest or back pack with added weight to increase the intensity of weight needed to reach failure in 2-4 reps. A few weight lifting plates can be used in your back pack for the desired weight.
- Super-slow pull-ups with sprinting legs: This is probably the most demanding and something that beginners need to work up to. While doing super slow pull-ups sprint your legs through the air with 90-degree bent knees. Don't let your arms straighten. Start a new rep when your elbows are at 20 degrees. An intermediate step would be to just hang from the pull up bar with elbows at 90 degrees until your arms straighten from failure.
- Super-slow row with sprinting legs: Lying face down on a bench hang your thighs over the edge of the bench and with 90 degree bent knees sprint your legs in the air while pulling dumbbells as high off the ground as you can get them and then lower them to the ground but don't rest them on the ground.
- Super-slow back extension with leg sprinting: Lying face down with your knee joint curled under a padded support bar on an exercise utility bench you will arch up super slow while sprinting your arms. Arch as high as you can go and don't rest your body on the bench after the down portion of the rep.
- Super-slow over the head press while sprinting in place: This exercise is done standing by doing super slow dumbbell press over the head and using your legs to run in place very fast. When pressing the dumbbells up, don't straighten your elbows. Reverse the motion when your elbows are at 20 degrees from the straight position.
- Super-slow bench press with a super-fast bicycle kick: Lay on your exercise bench face up and press dumbbells up without locking elbows. On the return do not rest the dumbbells on your body or let the tension of your joints hold up the weights. Muscles should always be in a contracted state. Simultaneously bicycle kick your legs with rapid speed.
- Cool down: Gradually reduce body temp and blood flow by immediately following the exercise routine with brisk walking and then stretching.
For the Beginner:
Safety is our most important concern when doing any type of exercise and preventing injury is our goal. Beginners who really want to start off basic due to possible concerns should use the sprint arm squat exercise only. This can be done with no equipment right in your living room and leave room for those swinging arms and keep your pets out of the room as they may want to jump on you as you are rapidly swinging your arms. Warn people not to come near you as you do this.
To keep this simple and easy as possible don't go until failure of your squatting legs. Focus on sprinting your arms and do squats slow enough that you can do them for 30 seconds without failure. Rest for 90 seconds then repeat this exercise as many times as you can inherently handle. By the end of your last cycle your legs should be reaching failure. Over time, work your way up to 8 cycles just like Dr. Mercola's Peak Fitness regime. Eventually, you will make enough gains so you can add weight from a backpack or weight vest.
The next goal will be to add other BAP exercises and the next best choice would be the over the head dumbbell press and sprinting in place since it will be swapping the fast and slow portions to opposite ends of the body. Once you have added three exercises, start to focus on using the amount of weight that will get you to failure in 2-4 reps and disregard the 30 second time limit and be sure to rest for 90 seconds between each exercise. Add the rest of the exercises as you make fitness gains.
If you don't have the equipment for certain exercises like the back extension or a pull up bar just double up on some of the exercises so you get your six sets in. Change the exercises that you double up on regularly. You will see that in time you will become faster, stronger and more coordinated over time because you brought your brain/body connection back to a more youthful state.
I developed the BAP exercise from my own concepts as well as the work from Dr. Doug McGuff's super slow weight lifting, Dr. Mercola's Peak 8, and Ori Hofmekler's views on exercise, alternating strength and speed in the same workout. I give them all credit for their work and inspiration. The BAP exercise routine I created is a convenient hybrid of many exercise disciplines and my concept that I believe achieves an enhanced brain/body connection, and very efficient adaptive growth response because of simultaneous associations. The 6 exercises offer a nice balance of all general body mechanics where almost every muscle group in your body will go through many disciplines of exercise in a single short routine.
Please watch the video above for visual instruction. The video is just a demonstration of one repetition for each exercise and I did not go until failure.
About the Author
Dr. Altabet is the owner and doctor at the Painkiller Hands Chiropractic Clinic – 22 years of clinical experience including Deep Muscle Release, Exercise Rehabilitation, Laser Acupuncture, Physiotherapeutics, Diet and Supplemental Nutrition.
Check out his Chiropractic blog at www.painkillerhands.com