Why I Don’t Want Bony Legs

I just watched a track & field competition… it was the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, where the best athletes from high school, college and the pros can all compete.

As I was watching them run I found myself noticing that the men and women running the 100 and the 200 meter races looked good. They look strong and virile, the way you would want to look.

But by the 400 meter race I thought OK, they look a little lanky and maybe a little weaker. By the time they got to the 800, the 1500 … I watched up to the 5,00 meters. And they looked horrible.

They looked worse than the average person you meet. They looked old, they looked beat up, unhealthy, malnourished. They didn’t even seem to have the ability to move right.

And when I looked at their legs, the bones were showing. That’s what you don’t want, especially if you’re getting up in age.

Here’s why:

The large muscles in your legs are the ones you use when you move almost anywhere or do anything. They power up your whole body.

Strong leg muscles fill you with strength and potential. They give you the feeling of confidence and they ensure you stay mobile and independent.

And the strength of your leg muscles plays a lead role in how long you’ll live.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh followed nearly 2,300 people for five years. It found that low quadriceps muscle strength made you 51 percent more likely to die.1

In fact, I had to look at the study twice to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing… the only two things that predicted death were age and quadriceps muscle strength.2

Another study found that for people who had congestive heart problems, the ones with the weakest quadriceps muscles were 13 times more likely to die within two years.3

Traditional cardio or longer distance running uses the smaller muscle fibers because they are more oxygen efficient. But, these moderate workouts ignore the larger fibers, leaving them weak.

The solution to building strong legs is to shorten the duration of your exertion, but increase the challenge. Like sprinters do.

My P.A.C.E. program is designed to help you do that. P.A.C.E. draws on those larger muscle fibers, which generate more power. By exercising the larger fibers, you get strong, well defined muscles that can handle heavy-duty demands.

In testing P.A.C.E. with my “PACE Study Group,” we’ve discovered is that P.A.C.E. works best when you do three sets of exercises.

The first is a warm-up set. The second is a ramp-up set, where you exert yourself to the point where you could still talk, but you’re out of breath.

The third is for close to peak exertion. It should only last briefly, and you should be pumping hard enough by the end that you could only grunt a word or two if you had to. Like this:

Challenging your peak this way – a little bit each time, followed by periods of rest – is what causes your body to adapt by adding muscle mass.

In between sets, you want to recover so that your heart rate is about 30 beats per minute above your resting rate. It will take only 30 seconds for some, and longer for others. But don’t worry how long it takes at first. Your body will progress as you get more fit.

This is one of the things that makes PACE different. You don’t time your recovery in strict intervals. You recover fully, and then challenge yourself again during the next exertion period.

We’ve also structured a system to make PACE even more powerful.

I call it PACE Express. Instead of running your muscles into the ground, try PACE Express for stronger, healthier legs and more mobility at any age.

One thing to remember is that P.A.C.E. is exertion … not exercise. That’s because “exercise” has negative connotations. We expect it to take a lot of time, and be boring and repetitive. Traditional exercise feels like a chore. And no one gets excited about doing chores.

So stop doing what bores you! P.A.C.E. feels more like play. You can use any physical activity you choose, as long as it challenges your current capacity.

Your P.A.C.E. workout never lasts for more than 12 minutes of total exertion, so you get more benefit in a fraction of the time!

1. Newman, Anne B., et al, “Strength, But Not Muscle Mass, Is Associated with Mortality in the Health,” J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2006; 61 (1): 72-77
2. Swallow, Elisabeth B., et al, “Quadriceps strength predicts mortality in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Thorax 2007;62:115-120
3. Kamiya, Kentaro, et al, “Decreased Strength of Quadriceps Increases the Risk of Mortality…” Circulation 2010;122:A12709