In Full Agreement with Drew Baye: An End to “High Intensity” Exercise

Drew Baye recently published a post titled “Why NOT High Intensity Training?“. The timing could not be more perfect. Not more perfect because I had been wanting to make a similar case here on TDL for a few weeks now. The case that by labeling real and proper exercise, “high intensity”, we are in fact perpetuating the insanity that is status-quo exercise lore, myth, and superstition.

In fact, even labeling exercise as “proper” or “real”, or any such thing, only reveals how young the subject matter is, and how utterly ignorant the majority of those who claim to know something about it are. For example, children are not taught “real” addition, subtraction, and multiplication — or “intense” division.

Nor is anyone learning “the secrets of the alphabet” in grade school. Such ideas are nonsensical and ridiculous to us.

And the same attitude must be applied to exercise if the science is to ever drown out the voodoo-shamans of our day like Tony Horton, Jillian Michaels, P90Shit, Insanity Home Stupidity, and thousands of other witch doctors claiming to know anything valid and reality based about exercise.

Exercise is exercise, and then, there is everything else.

And the fact of reality is: Arthur Jones figured out exercise decades ago.

  • Brief
  • Intense
  • Infrequent
  • Safe
  • Purposeful

Anything outside of these bounds is not exercise. It might look like exercise, sound like exercise, and even feel like exercise, but it is not exercise — no matter how many millions of people say it is, claim it to be, preach it as such, sell it as such, or perform it on Youtube with a Flipcam and “thumb it up”.

People are entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts. None of these factors have any bearing on what exercise is and is not.

And it’s time to stop dumbing down exercise for the masses.

  • “Cardio” is not exercise
  • Running a marathon is not exercise
  • “Crossfit” is not exercise
  • Sports, of any kind, are not exercise
  • Taking a shit is not exercise

These physical activities, random and contextual as they may be, are not exercise, and will never be exercise. They all carry varying degrees of exercise effect, sure, but exercise effect, irregardless of the degree, is merely a derivative concept of exercise.

What we are after is exercise — with an absolute respect for biology, bio-mechanics, and reality.

The reality of being human, and what our bodies need and require to achieve their best and highest physical potentials — nothing more, and nothing less, with no contradictions possible.

In a sense, a net positive physical activity that can be performed by virtually the entire human population throughout the total course of their lives that actively and continually pushes the body of an individual closer and closer to it’s peak potential without cultivating unnecessary cumulative internal damage to the body, that in a long enough time span will FORCE any individual to cease their exercise activities partially or completely as a direct consequence of their sum exercise activity.

THAT, is in large part, exercise, and it is 100% antithetical to mainstream “exercise” thought, lore, and practice.


Coming full circle, it’s time to stop defending high intensity training as a bastard branch of exercise science. It IS exercise. Other physical activities can have net positive effects, including exercise effects. So it would be accurate to say that other physical activities have the potential to produce net positive effects on the human body and even mind. Walking, sex, and non-insane stretching and Yoga come to mind.

These things, no matter their similarity to exercise, cannot be honestly classified as exercise. And outside this comparatively small range of activities that can benefit our lives, lies the huge range of activities falsely posing as exercise, that are simply not exercise — many of which are violently and patently unsafe, if not outright stupid if being performed as a means of exercise activity.

(If you’re performing unsafe physical activities for other reasons, that is your own decision to make for your own reasons. Just know that no matter how many millions of people bitch, moan, complain and cry, those activities will never be exercise, nor can those activities be made fundamentally safe by tweaking superficial aspects of them).

End rant. Read Drew’s post.

— Anthony Dream Johnson

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

18 Responses to In Full Agreement with Drew Baye: An End to “High Intensity” Exercise

  1. Matt November 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I struggle with how you define exercise. What you seem to define as the “exercise effect” is how I define exercise, as long as it’s being performed for the purpose of that effect.

    Under this definition, HIT is simply the most efficient and safe way to exercise. Whereas other forms of exercise might be less safe and efficient, but have other desirable effects such as increased adherance, more fun, etc.

    • Aaron November 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Anthony is saying that exercise is a specific thing. You’re saying that you would consider many things exercise, including things with other desirable effects. Anthony is saying that exercise is not a broad thing, even if sports get you better at sports and are fun (gains), they’re not exercise, they’re something else and need to be separate from exercise. Which is more specific to efficient methods of (insert TBD definition of exercise).

      • Matt November 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

        Yeah, I understand what Anthony is saying and what I’m saying. I just think that there are better ways of describing what people mean when they say exercise while also still keeping the word meaningful.

        My list of requirements of what exercise is would look something like this:


  2. Anthony Dream Johnson November 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I prefaced my crack at defining exercise with “in a sense”, because this post was meant to be a rant, not a legitimate stab at defining exercise. I’ll leave that task to Drew, and others more qualified and interested in doing such a thing.

    (At the same time, unidentified knowledge is not equal to a complete absence of a particular piece of knowledge).

  3. Aaron November 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Friendly non-grammar-douche correction incoming

    it’s ‘regardless’ not ‘irregardless’.

  4. Drew Baye November 28, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    I won’t get into it too much here because a full article will be going up later, but what distinguishes exercise from everything else is that it is done in a way that is specifically designed to be optimal for stimulating improvements in fitness while minimizing the wear on the body and risk of injury. Other activities can have physical benefits, but that is either not their goal, or they are poorly designed for the purpose or are somehow counterproductive in the long term due to unnecessarily high risk of injury or damage to the body over time.

  5. VartanK November 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    No offense but this sounds like pure tautology, exercise is simply redefined as HIT, therefore you don’t need to use the phrase HIT since you have redefined exercise accordingly.

    I also think it’s just a bit too narrow sighted, fact is there are different training methodologies and this is self evident. Power lifters who have switched gears to become body builders adopt completely different exercise protocols, and looking at a guy like Matt Kroc, who is one the strongest guys on the planet AND a successful bodybuilder, how can you say nothing he does is strictly “exercise” or specific?

    The fact is that while most people will never have any interest in spending any amount of real time or effort training, it doesn’t mean that we should cater our definition to *those* people. Some sports or exercises do require dangerous forms of practice, or are just plain dangerous to begin with. But we all try to minimize the harm we do to ourselves, and safety is my primary concern whether I’m using a hammer BTN machine or doing free weight standing push presses, but I’ve gotten mildly hurt on both, so safety is never 100% even with strict protocols.

  6. Drew Baye November 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    No, I am not defining exercise to fit “high intensity training”, but rather the method is the best representation of the definition of exercise and it is necessary to dispel the notion that any activity involving movement qualifies.

    No time for specifics, as I am between clients, but an article with the background will be going up soon.

  7. Oliver November 30, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Didn’t Doug define fitness and health in his book? I’m content with that since it made perfect sense. No need to get any more complex about it, but i will read Drews upcoimg post on the matter to see if it changing my mind.

    • Joe A November 30, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      The discussion is about defining ‘exercise’ . . . not ‘fitness’ or health’.

  8. Oliver November 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    He defines all 3 plus the relationships between them all.

  9. Oliver November 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Here’s what he said “Exersise: A specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermindnthe latter in the process of enhancing the former.”

    • Joe A November 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      So, it seems Drew is expounding on the ‘specific activity’ Doug alluded to; what it looks like, what it takes to fulfill the rest of the definition, etc…b/c anything other than that specific activity would not be exercise. In this case, if that specific activity mirrors HIT (and I’m not suggesting it does), then it is unnecessary, superfluous and further contributing to the general confusion about these concepts to designate something as ‘HIT exercise’ or ‘strength training exercise’.

      Language matters and without linguistic distinction, it is impossible to discuss these topics seriously or advance the understanding and application of these concepts (not just personally, but in teaching others or in an attempt to affect the ‘common’ acceptance and use of these concepts). It is not a matter of making things more complex, but rather doing the work that should have been done before ever designating exercise a ‘science’. Exercise has become an ‘industry’ instead of a ‘field of discipline’ because of the lack of doing exactly what Drew is attempting to do (whether you agree with the end result or not). The bullshit that is so prevalent will remain as long as we allow it…seems some are simply tired of the bullshit.

  10. mark January 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    1/One problem is attaching a value to the definition. When one makes errors in the process &/or comes up with the wrong answer, one is still doing math. 2/There is exercise the activity, and exercise the effect: -Doing- exercise, and -getting- (some)exercise aren’t the same. Must we consider such an effect as not being exercise if it came as result of recreational activity?

  11. chris June 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Activity requiring physical effort, carried out esp. to sustain or improve health and fitness.
    Use or apply (a faculty, right, or process).
    noun. practice – drill – training
    verb. practise – train – drill – practice

       [ek-ser-sahyz] Show IPA noun, verb, ex·er·cised, ex·er·cis·ing.
    bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health: Walking is good exercise.
    something done or performed as a means of practice or training: exercises for the piano.
    a putting into action, use, operation, or effect: the exercise of caution.
    a written composition, musical piece, or artistic work executed for practice or to illustrate a particular aspect of technique.

    you cant just change words that are in the dictionary

  12. Ricky Ryan October 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Just found this via some google searches on HIT training.

    I would just like to comment that Arthur Jones might have figured it out for himself, but he was far from the first one.

    Look at all muscle mags from the 1910s to 1950s and most advise a 3 times a week full body work out using 8-12 exercises in the 6-12 rep range, going to failure on each set with only ONE set per bodypart.

    Lots of guys had this figured out before, heck even Joe weider in his 1st magazine “Your physique” then he went into profit mode instead of training mode… “If people train more, they’ll buy more supplements” and that around the 60s he started inventing all sorts of crap.

    I would say the man who really brought this to the forefront is Alan Calvert, check out this course written in 1911… it’s more than relevant even today.


  13. lazur June 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    A misunderstanding of yoga: “Stretching” is a non-activity. What’s *acting* is the *contraction* of the opposing muscles. Awareness of this makes yoga a muscle-builder. It can’t be measured lb-for-lb like weights, but it *is* progressive: 1/Contracting as hard as possible in full, so-called “stretch” produces harder contractions over time. Contracting w/all available strength for 2 minutes develops strength, muscle & muscular endurance, & has a progressive aspect bodyweight exercises, (pushups), don’t. Over the length of a set, fatigue’s automatically accounted for, as there’s no external resistance. 2/As a better sense of effort’s developed, subjects can co-contract *stretching* muscles to resist primary contractions, (not intensely enough to stop movement). Called “dynamic tension’ in the 50s & 60s, now called “infimetrics”, it was used by Indian wrestlers centuries earlier, & is a way of practicing kata in some martial arts. If motivated enough, (most subjects aren’t), a yoga practitioner could gain strength & muscularity equal to, or greater than, weights enable.

    • Donnie Hunt June 24, 2015 at 12:03 am #

      Excellent comment lazur!

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