Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Keep your workouts Varied, Intense, and Short to get the best long-term results
As a gym owner, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer, and Graduate Student, I often spend an enormous amount of time doing 2 things - training people across a large spectrum of demographics, and studying how to train people across a large spectrum of demographics. I place these two tasks in specific order for two reasons; in order of relative accomplishment, and because everyday, I realize I actually know less on any given day than I thought I knew the day before. Constantly learning is critical.
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had over the years in helping my clients and athletes consistently improve their fitness, is conveying the importance of NOT Overtraining and Resting Appropriately.
There seems to be a wide-spread belief in the notion that increased FREQUENCY (number of workouts completed in a day or week), and increased DURATION of workouts, is better for improving overall fitness, or weight-loss, or whatever your goals might be.
This notion couldn’t be further from the truth. FACT: Less is More! Working out with High Frequency, for prolonged duration produces an affect of diminishing return.
However, TRAINING for an activity and PERFORMING an activity are two very different things. For example, running a Half or Full Marathon takes several hours. This is true for many competitive and casual activities including biking, hiking, skiing, paddling, etc. It is important to understand that your training events for these same activities should be relatively shorter than the time you need to perform them. I realize this approach may be in stark contrast with common advice, but I will leave it at that for now.
My nugget of advice (and take it for what its worth): Keep your training activities to an hour or less, for 5-6 days per week, and utilize one of those days as an active recovery (very light work, skill, mobility, etc at a perceived exertion rate of 3-5 out of 10. Take one day completely off. On weeks when you participate in a Performance type of event (casual or competitive), take an EXTRA 1-2 days off of training, but still take an active recovery day. Pay attention to your body!
Remember, you don’t get stronger from lifting heavy weights. You get stronger from RESTING AFTER you lift heavy weights. This is true of any exercise or training.
“The key to successful training in this stage of development is to balance these two important and opposing phenomena - the increased need for stress and the corresponding requisite increase in recovery time.” Mark Rippetoe, Practical Programming for Strength Training
Workout Habits You Should Drop Now (Jennifer Choen, Time/Health.Com)
Please take the time to review the article at the link posted above. I would like for you to pay special attention to points 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, as they relate to this blog post.
In the multi-billion dollar fitness industry, it is very easy to become consumed with the intricacies of exercise and nutrition claims. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our population remains confused, as their overall health and wellness continue to diminish.
Keep it simple, be consistent, push yourself to the edge of YOUR capacity each time you train, and rest, rest rest!. This is the fastest, most efficient and effective way to continue to see improvements in all aspects of your wellness goals. Your fitness CANNOT BE HACKED!
If you’ve managed to stay with me until this point, thank you! Please continue as I wrap this post up with a quote from Greg Glassman entitled Fitness In 100 Words. You may not be a fan of CrossFit, but there is a tremendous amount of wisdom and science behind these words.
Now go out, crush today’s workout, and treat yourself to a beer afterward!
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and No Sugar”
Meaning: Quality food. You can’t out work a poor diet. Your body is a sports car, treat it as such.
“Keep in take to levels that will support exercise but not body fat”
Meaning: Eat to fuel your body, not as punishment or reward.
“Practice and train major lifts - Squats, Deadlifts, and Presses etc”
Meaning: We need to be stronger. Life is easier if you are stronger and less dependent on others. These barbell movements are fundamental to everyday life. Picking something up from the ground and presses are things we do every day, but often take for granted. We squat on and off the toilet, the couch, chair and getting in and out of our vehicles. We pick things up everyday wether it be in the gym or your kid’s toys off the floor, and we all put things over our head on a daily basis wither it is placing something on the top shelf of a cabinet or being a firefighter hoisting a ladder.
“Similarly master the basics of gymnastics: pull ups, push ups, rope climbs, sit ups, etc. Bike run, swim, and row hard and fast”
Meaning: Learn how to move your own body thru space, create shapes and build basic body awareness. We need to develop capacity in as many activity modalities as possible. The broader physical capacity we develop, the fitter we become.
“5-6 days per week and mix all these elements in as many combinations and patterns that creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy.”
Meaning: Variety is key. Add elements into your fitness that represent challenges you may face in life. If everyday you run for 30 mins, great! You will only be fit to run for 30 mins. What about short sprints, or being able to move our own body properly thru full range of motion. How does running for 30 mins increase our strength and power to become more independent? Work on the things you aren’t good at!
Variety Creates Adaptation, Adaptation Creates Change……
“Regularly try new sports”
Meaning: Don’t just go to the gym to be good in the gym. Train to apply your fitness to everyday life!
Fitness In 100 Words: Greg Glassman
Meaning: Chris Vasseur
Fitness in 100 Words