My goals, simply stated (in order of highest priority first)
- Improve overall health through fitness (for me this would include losing some weight, I hover around 190lbs as a 6'0" male, ~37 years of age).
- Maintain decent strength for a variety of activities.
- Become better at endurance athletics, in particular, running.
I don't think this goals are necessarily mutually exclusive so it was hard to order them. I'm not trying to look super buff; I'm more interested in health and performance results.
In the last year, I'd been subscribing to the ideas behind the Maffetone method and the Primal Endurance book. Before that, I'd finally gotten into decent shape with the P90x3, but still had some extra weight to shed (despite following it rather religiously; I would even attempt to do it while staying at hotels on road trips to visit family, and of course I would keep at it when on vacation).
The main idea behind the Maffetone method is that you train your aerobic system by avoiding any biological crosstalk with the anaerobic system. I think this is possible to be true, but I don't think I've seen any scientific evidence that it is so directly; the Primal Endurance book certainly includes many anecdotes, and I'm sure it works for some people. But it didn't seem to work for me. After about 6 months of skipping out on P90x3 or any sustained anaerobic exercise or jog, I just wasn't noticing improvements that seemed worthwhile. I could not maintain a jog or run for more than 10-30 paces without exceeding my estimated max-aerobic heart rate (depending on how it is estimated, mine is probably in the 135-144 bmp range). Yes, I could probably go a few more paces than that if I was running downhill (quite a few more) or if I hadn't warmed up yet, but that should give an idea of my frustration. If I had successfully completed the "aerobic base building" period, I could then cycle back to doing anaerobic stuff, but I feel I never really did. As discussed in the Primal Endurance book, I still did the odd set of strength exercises a few times a week (a set of pull-ups here, a couple 2-minute plank sessions there) to maintain some strength, but otherwise, I did not do any anaerobic exercise.
So now, I'm looking for something new to try. I recall seeing a talk (sadly I can't find it just at the moment, but will update if I do) that showed Olympic endurance athletes that were very successful often mixed high-intensity exercise with endurance exercise at about a 1:5 ratio (I can't recall if this was by workout-session or by time involved, but probably the former). Disclaimer: I'm a desk-jockey and not looking to be an olympic athlete or anything close, but I'd like to do a lot better than I'm currently doing.
I liked the P90x3 on the whole. I received few injuries (though the elite video was perhaps more likely to induce injuries), so I'd be happy to work those back in in some capacity, and hopefully obtain better aerobic-base-building results than I had with the Maffetone method.