I've been reading Clarence's books for years. I don't always agree with him - especially on diet where I like more fat and meat than he would be comfortable with - but he is always a stimulating read and writes really well. It was through him that I first came across Art DeVany and the whole Evolutionary fitness thing. Actually thinking about it, he first wrote about Pavel and kettlebells.
Anyway, he has a piece up this month on Body By Science (my interviews with the authors are here and here) which is definitely worth reading.
Aerobics, Do You Need It? Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week
For those still in doubt, here’s my opinion.
First, I believe you can skip traditional aerobic workouts—if you are willing and able to do high-intensity intervals once or, at most, twice a week. (Walking or at least staying active on off days is also advisable.) We’ve already seen from the McMaster studies that sprint intervals dramatically increase endurance capacity in a fraction of the time required for conventional steady-state aerobic training. Intervals are also more effective/efficient for burning fat and probably for overall health. For studies in point, see Intervals for (Almost) Everyone: http://www.cbass.com/IntervalsEveryone.htm
Hard intervals have proven value that has not been shown for resistance training, especially very short, hard routines. Until we have evidence that strength training—any kind—will do as well, I’m going to keep doing intervals.
Dr. McGuff’s concept of total body conditioning may be correct. His demonstration on You Tube suggests that the 12-minute routine does indeed have a “global metabolic effect.” If you try it, I believe you’ll agree. For people who are busy and motivated, it may work very well when combined with walking (or some other form of physical activity) on most non-workout days. (We will have an article next month on the importance of staying active between workouts.)
I do believe that one hard set (after warm-up) is the best—certainly the most efficient—way to build strength and muscle. I don’t favor rushing from one exercise to the next, however; it dampens effort and creates an aversion to training. And I’m not convinced that one set is enough for complete fitness. Until we have convincing evidence to the contrary, I believe you need resistance training and some form of endurance training.