Single Best Form of Exercise – Which Theory Works The Best?


One of my pet peeves is folks who preach that their type of exercise is the single best form of exercise for the human body.

  • Cardio junkies say their long-slow-distance is natural and gentle on the body.
  • Strength nuts talk about cardio as if it were as useless as a 3 dollar bill.
  • I’ve even heard Yoga gurus say that conventional exercise is dangerous and leads to certain injury.

I’ve waffled through these ideas over the years but have ultimately come to believe these styles of thinking can be dangerous in and of themselves. Not because it’s bad to do any one of these things, but because believing a single mode of activity is best can really limit your potential.

If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s fitness theory that limits our natural potential to experience all the great fitness options available. These ideas tend to come from the theory that the human body is meant for one certain type of activity and everything else is unnatural or harmful. Most of the time, examples of ancient humans or modern daily activity is brought in to add some validity to the argument that we are not built for the sort of exercise under persecution.

With extremes, it makes sense. Most of us wouldn’t find running 100 miles or lifting 500 pounds natural. However even the most basic exploration of exercise physiology blatantly shows that the human body was designed for a very wide variety of activities from running on a beach to pushing a car out of a ditch. Nature never intended us to be built for just one or two types of activity.

Understanding this can give you a great level of freedom in your exercise selection. You’re no longer restricted to “one best” form of exercise because variety is a great way to get the most out of whatever you want.

I see it all the time when weight lifters get stronger by adding some cardio and cardio junkies gain endurance by adding strength training. Nothing is wrong with having a focus in your training, but I really do believe that being so focused that you completely exclude other options can be a massive detriment to your goals.

Do bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to include massive amount of activity in opposition to what you’re doing. Just spending even 5% of your time pursuing other forms of activity can really make a difference by filling in the gaps left by narrow focus training.

So you don’t have to avoid doing, well anything. If you have a desire to go out and explore some of the other modes of exercise available to you then unleash your limitations and your potential.

Above all, it’s important to understand that all forms of exercise have some value. Nothing is worthless if it’s training and conditioning the human body to expand upon its capabilities.

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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