Editors’ choice of the very best health and fitness features from over the years.

The MAF Method is a very simple concept that focuses on balancing health and fitness, yet there are many components. If you miss one you might not be seeing the big picture. To help you find your own balance, the MAF staff has picked out the 10 most important all-time articles. Have you read them all?

 

  1. The MAF Method: What It is and Where to Start
  2.  Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Two-Week Test
  3.  Seven Signs of Fat-Burning
  4. MAF-GPS Test (If you don’t use a GPS device, read What Is the MAF Test?
  5. The Benefits of Natural Folate
  6.  The sun and Vitamin D: Improving Athletic Performance
  7. Seven Steps to Better Health
  8.  The 180-Formula: Heart Rate Monitoring for Real Aerobic Training
  9. The Overtraining Syndrome
  10. Sleep Well and Prosper

Whether you’ve followed MAF from the beginning or are new to the program, reviewing or checking out these 10 articles can help you on your way to better health and fitness.

5 Comments

  • Judy says:

    I’ve read them all. 🙂

  • Darkest Yorkshire says:

    I have some questions about combining MAF with strength training methods. Would doing Leonard Schwartz’s Heavyhands training at MAF heart rate work? The hand weights aren’t heavy but the system is designed to build considerable strength as well as endurance, so I’m not sure if the two methods would compete against each other.

    MAF normally advises blocks of aerobic training separate from strength. Does this include lower intensity, higher volume methods like the 1×20 system of Michael Yessis? It advises doing 1×20 three days a week and aerobics on three alternating days. Could this work with MAF (particularly for total novices) or would it still be better to build the aerobic base first?

    Does respiriatory muscle training with something like the Sports Breather or Ultrabreathe improve aerobic performance?

    What do you think of StrongFirst’s attempts to integrate MAF with kettlebell training and the Selouyanov method to combine aerobic and strength training, make slow-twitch muscles stronger and give fast-twitch muscles better endurance?

    When you talk about aerobic speed you mean things like steady running speed, but what about explosive speed? How fast is it possible to throw a punch or swing an implement whilst remaining in the aerobic zone? How far could aerobic strength be developed? It would make an interesting science experiment (but possibly a very boring sport) to see how strong people could become without ever leaving the aerobic zone.

    Just out of interest, what are the limiting factors on aerobic capacity? What stops a person from just getting faster and faster until they can run a whole marathon at 100m sprint pace whilst still at the MAF heart rate? 🙂

    • Darkest:

      Great questions. The full answer to this merits a full encyclopedia.

      More than a method for “training aerobically,” the MAF Method is more importantly a rubric for understanding when and where to incorporate anaerobic and strength training. The reason we advocate aerobic training in blocks is because of the amount of people that have some sort of aerobic deficiency. In other words, a lot of people don’t have a healthy aerobic system. So doing regular anaerobic intervals would interrupt a block of aerobic development that is necessary to get the body to a baseline of health.

      It’s necessary to build an aerobic base first, as it is the foundation of health and fitness. All the waste products produced by anaerobic work go through the aerobic base to be processed—or if the aerobic base isn’t strong enough, they tax the body’s purification organs such as the liver and kidneys. So any athlete who doesn’t get injured and overtrained from a mixed workout regimen already has a powerful enough aerobic base to handle that kind of training. The only reason they’re not building an aerobic base in their present training is because they already did.

      StrongFirst and Heavyhands are excellent ways of developing well-rounded physiology. But someone with a very poor aerobic base or overtraining will require a generous chunk of aerobic training before they can benefit.

      MAF training cannot benefit your explosive speed. You’ll find that people who are aerobically deficient will develop explosive speed even through exclusive MAF training, but this is just because the improved aerobic base allows the body to support more Type II fibers. So if you just improve the “soil” (the aerobic base), you’ll see some explosive speed improvement. But for a well-trained, fully-healthy body, the only way to develop explosive speed is to do anaerobic training.

      The reason we don’t come out of the gate saying “do aerobic training but also anaerobic training” is because most people simply are not healthy and aerobically powerful enough to just go into a mixed workout regimen and not expect a significant injury six months or a year down the line.

      The aerobic range is always the moderate range. You cannot achieve your maximal speed with your aerobic muscle fibers only because aerobic muscle fibers are not the body’s “maximal” engine—the anaerobic muscle fibers are. So if you train aerobically, speed at your moderate exercise intensity will increase (as evidenced by a faster pace at a moderate heart rate) but there’s simply no way to get to your maximum heart rate and also stay aerobic. What stops a person from being able to run a marathon at their 100m sprint pace is that your Type II fast-twitch fibers are not active below your aerobic threshold. So no matter how fast you get at your aerobic speed, you can still run faster by tapping into your Type II fibers.

      In this vein, aerobic training (and its corresponding heart rate) is a very specific kind of training. It is not meant as a maximum training heart rate, and not at all as a maximum competitive heart rate. Exclusive aerobic training is for people who are ill, injured, or overtrained, who have chronic illnesses (-stress, -fatigue, heart disease, etc.), and for individuals who are training for overwhelmingly aerobic events.

  • Darkest Yorkshire says:

    Ivan, if you or Phil are looking for a new book project, I vote for that encyclopedia. Or a full-length book on endurance for strength athletes, heavy manual workers and the military and emergency services.

    Training the aerobic, glycolytic and alactic energy systems change the metabolism, including oxygen consumption. Normally this isn’t an issue as there is no shortage of oxygen in the atmosphere, but what impact does this have for a scuba diver or firefighter who is breathing a limited supply of air? For example would someone extremely muscular and strong exhaust their tank faster? Or would their strength make everything easier and the tank last longer? If there were two equally strong individuals under the same conditions, one who got their endurance aerobically and the other from glycolytic puke circuits (tyre flips, Prowler push, etc), whose air would last longer? Or would the specifics of the conditions change the answer? Are any training methods particularly known for extending the life of air tanks (or dangerously shortening them)?

    On a different note, I enjoy programs like Strictly Come Dancing and often wonder about the demands it puts on the body and what sort of training they have beyond technique. Do you have experience training dancers? Are there any distinct methods to it?

    • Darkest Yorkshire says:

      I’ve got an answer to this now. It would depend on the task and each would use air more efficiently at what they had trained for. So the aerobic individual would do better at lower intensity and the glycolytic at higher intensity. But if both had to do both tasks the aerobic training would have more carryover so the aerobic person would do better at the glycolytic task than the glycolytic person would do at the aerobic task. At least this is the theory I’m currently working with.

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