The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It? (cont.)

Before you head out to see if you're good enough to pass the 300 test, heed the caution from William J. Kraemer, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "This [program] was done for a stylistic effect, to look like a Spartan," he says. Forget about trying to do the graduation test right out of the box, he says. "The out-of-shape person who starts [the 300 graduation test] is going to be dead the first day. No one could do this without prior training. You have to progress."

Even if you start out slowly, Kraemer recommends proceeding with caution and checking in with your doctor first.

The breakdown of muscle fibers, for instance, may be severe enough to be toxic to the kidneys, he says. "If you have [heart problems] or are not screened, you could have a variety of exertional problems [with this workout], from serious tissue breakdown to heart attack to kidney problems," he says. "It's too extreme for the average person."

Walt Thompson, PhD, a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta, agrees. "This kind of workout is for a very, very small subset of the population," he says. "The person who could probably benefit from the Gym Jones workout is the person who already has a long and extensive 'career' in exercise. It's not for a beginner."

Advice for Beginners

That does not mean if you are a beginner all hope is lost. Thompson and others recommend beginners start out slowly and consider hiring a certified trainer to learn proper form, especially for weight training. The top three certifications, in Thompson's opinion, are those offered by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Council on Exercise.

Hiring a trainer who is certified by one of those groups, if even for a few sessions, he says, will help ensure you learn proper technique and form in weight training and other muscle-strengthening exercises. "It helps to keep someone from being injured," he says.

Next at Your Local Gym?

Even though the entire regimen is viewed as too intense for the average person, don't be surprised if a modified version of the 300 workout appears at your local health club, says Brooke Correia, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a Boston-based industry group that has 4,000 U.S. health clubs in its membership.

"Remember Striptease, the movie with Demi Moore?" she asks. Soon after that 1996 movie was released, striptease pole dancing classes began to be offered at health clubs nationwide, she says.

Published March 30, 2007.


SOURCES: Mark Twight, founder, Gym Jones, Salt Lake City. William J. Kraemer, PhD, professor of kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs. Walt Thompson, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health, Georgia State University, Atlanta. Brooke Correia, spokeswoman, International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, Boston. Gym Jones web site. Orna Zadeh, publicist, Warner Brothers.

© 2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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