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Hacking Exercise For Health. The surprising new science of fitness.

McMaster University via Coursera


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Renowned exercise physiologists Martin Gibala and Stuart Phillips of McMaster University teach the surprising new science of cardio fitness and strength-building—and then provide you with hacks to get fit and strong (and healthy!) in less time than you ever thought possible. What’s the right mix of exercise between cardio and strength? How do you know if you’re working out hard enough? What’s better, heavy or light weights? These questions and more are addressed through a course designed to provide even the most inexperienced of exercisers the tools you need to design time-efficient workouts that can be done virtually anywhere, from your own home to a city park or even at your workplace. Marty and Stu are good friends and colleagues who just happen to be two of the world’s most passionate scholars in the science of fitness. They aim to entertain you while they’re describing the relationship between exercise and health. Marty is a pioneer in the field of interval training, the technique of varying your workout intensity to get fit faster than anyone ever thought possible. Stu’s studies proved that lifting lighter weights can be a highly effective strength-building technique—plus he’s a leading expert in dietary protein and muscle. In Hacking Exercise for Health, you’ll follow Marty and Stu as they teach you the basics about the way your body boosts its fitness and strength. Next, they’ll apply that theory, providing you with a series of do-anywhere workouts and, most importantly, teaching you what you need to know to design your own sessions. Filled with inspirational practical tips, fun quizzes, interactive community participation and assignments designed to help you remember your lessons, Hacking Exercise for Health will give you the tools and techniques to incorporate exercise into your life, no matter how busy you are.


  • The Basics of Fitness
    • The human body is rare in that it actually improves with use. In fact, the changes that various kinds of exercise trigger in the body are downright miraculous. This week, Marty and Stu explain the mechanics behind that process. They start by breaking down the two types of fitness: “Cardiorespiratory” and “musculoskeletal.” Next, they’ll tell you why each one is important to living a long and healthy life. With a can-do attitude designed to inspire, they’ll inform you how much of each activity you’re supposed to get, then wrap up the week by posing a question that exercise scientists have been debating for years: Which type of exercise is better for you?
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
    • This week Marty tells you all about cardiorespiratory fitness, and the latest research in terms of time-efficient ways to get fitter faster. Why do some scientists think that cardiorespiratory fitness should be the fifth vital sign? What is VO2max? What’s an easy way to determine your own VO2max? And how does aerobic exercise boost it? The week wraps up with Marty teaching a series of techniques to build cardiorespiratory fitness in less time than you ever thought possible.
  • Musculoskeletal Fitness
    • Many people believe strength training isn’t for them. They might feel intimidated by lifting weights because they think it’s only for big hulking bodybuilders. Besides, what are the health benefits of lifting weights? During week 3, Stu argues that everyone should engage in some form of strength training—and the practice becomes more important, not less, as you age. Once you’re convinced, Stu teaches techniques that will help everyone to be stronger, to stave off the decline in muscle strength that otherwise happens as we age. Finally, Stu provides hacks to get you comfortable performing strengthening exercises—and teaches you to design your own resistance-training workouts.
  • Combining Cardio and Strength Fitness
    • Remember the question Marty and Stu posed in the first week? What’s more important, cardiorespiratory or musculoskeletal health? In the last week they’ll finally answer it for you. They’ll talk about some of the surprising benefits of exercise—like the fact that it can help you mentally retain information (sweat so you don’t forget!). They’ll discuss the debate over the exercise pill. They’ll teach you hacks that help you boost muscle strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, together—and finish the course by teaching you techniques to design your own fun, combined workouts designed to keep you exercising for the rest of your life!

Taught by

Martin Gibala, Stuart Phillips and Christa Morrison


4.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 784 ratings

Start your review of Hacking Exercise For Health. The surprising new science of fitness.

  • Profile image for Natasha Murashkina
    Natasha Murashkina
    Nice course. But each video starts with a 20-second promo with extremely loud music and your ears are going to suffer if you forgot to lower the volume after a previous clip.
  • Profile image for Gabby Petruzzello
    Gabby Petruzzello
    This was a good online course for those looking to enhance their fitness. I found the videos generally helpful and engaging.

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