The world of exercise is an ever changing kaleidoscope of good information, unfortunately diluted with the tainted appearance of ‘bull shit’ making itself heard, that will more often harm you then help you. Contradicting opinions often give way to confusion, and confusion unfortunately results in a gym goer feeling disillusioned and more often than not back on the couch watching re-runs of The Simpsons wishing you were more Duff Man than Homer.
Luckily, it doesn’t need to be this tough – it really doesn’t! With quality businesses such as THR1VE holding your hand and feeding you quality nutrition along the way all you need is the RIGHT exercise information to make REAL progress in the gym.
I strongly believe that the following three points have the potential to change your life – and amazingly they are not complex, not even close! If anything they are three of the simplest things to implement but like always making the change itself is often the hard part:
–Cut Back on Cardio and Increase Weight Training
– Increase Incidental Exercise In Your Day
– Make Change
Let’s make sense of these three points, that could potentially change the way you train forever.
1st Important Change – Cut Back on Cardio and Increase Weight Training
The first and perhaps most important is to change the perception of the weights floor in your local gym. As a personal trainer I hear it time and time again straight after meeting a new client (particularly females) that they are concerned that by merely reaching in the vicinity of a dumbbell there arms swell with muscle (worth mentioning I have been told that VERY excuse). There are many hormonal and physiological differences between men and women that make this near impossible for a female to pack on muscle within the first week of training with more added resistance than the fluffy pink dumbbells often used.
The best type of weight training to do is the big muscle movers and preferably large compound lifts. Sitting on the abductor machines of your local gym opening and closing your legs unfortunately doesn’t cut it and in even more grim news is unlikely to really do a whole lot of anything except present the opportunity for reeeeeally awkward eye contact if made with passersby.
Rather you should opt for the deadlift, squats, pull ups, push ups, cleans and presses to start with and once you have mastered those progressing onto overhead squats, ring exercises, handstands, snatches and clean and jerks.
Let it be clear – I am not bashing cardiovascular training and in fact I’m not even casting it to the naughty corner. Cardio is much better than sitting on the couch but resistance training is better for overall health and in particular MUCH better when it comes to body composition most notably the scorching of unwanted fat.
A compound movement simply means working exercises that work multiple muscles. The previously mentioned abductor machines will simply work your abductors whereas a squat will work your glutes, your hamstrings, your quads, your core and that includes to an extent your lower back.
Looking at the very basic formula of weight loss equaling quality calories in vs quality calories out (I use quality because there is a whopping great difference between 1200 calories from a Big Mac Meal and 1200 calories from poached salmon with steamed vegetables and rice) the more muscles you use the more calories you burn. I love to use an analogy of a car engine, a Toyota Corolla is a one muscle working exercise – the Toyota burns minimal fuel during this exercise with fuel being calories. A squat will recruit many more muscles and is better represented by a V8 engine that is burning through much more fuel, or when squatting burning more calories.
Aside from just burning calories during your workout resistance training has proven to have a much better and longer duration of raised metabolism that continues to burn a higher amount of calories after the workout is complete. In addition to a metabolic boost, without getting too technical spikes in hormone levels such as growth hormone and naturally produced testosterone allows for the production of lean, metabolism boosting, sexy muscle.
Having an element of cardiovascular training in your program is important but it is important that resistance makes up the bulk of your training if you exercise for overall health and wellbeing- obviously if you train for a sport with a high cardiovascular requirement your training will be different.
It is worth mentioning as well that just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to do cardio other than running on a treadmill or peddling on an uncomfortable exercise bike. Look outside the box at options such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), Strongman style training and other metabolic circuits.
2nd Important Change – Increase Incidental Exercise In Your Day
If you needed something from a corner store or had arranged a catch up with a friend – and you didn’t have a car, you would probably walk or take the bike. If it’s further to travel, at least a walk to the bus stop would get you there.
Nowadays our lifestyles are becoming more and more convenient and that has resulted in less and less movement. We have escalators to save us from walking up stairs, pre-cooked packaged meals to save us from cooking, everywhere we look a new product is being sold based on its convenience and how much time and effort it saves you.
Making small changes like increasing incidental exercise in your day will make a big difference in the overall BIG picture. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, walk to the corner store to get milk and make these occurrences a habit and after a while it will seem odd doing anything other.
Another way of increasing incidental exercise is to find a sport or active hobby that you do for enjoyment – and make it quite an active one. I recently started getting into mountain bike riding and really, REALLY enjoy it (I’m not great at it, but it’s fun) and I try to go for at least one bike ride on the weekend and maybe one or two during the week if I get time.
I don’t see the bike ride as an exercise session – I actually view it as a chance to clear my mind, to relax and unwind. It’s hard work as well but you don’t notice it so much when it’s a tonne of fun.
Maybe you live near the beach, walk down one day and go for a swim, a surf or if you are near a lake go wakeboarding- anything that you enjoy enough that it doesn’t seem like work. The weekends are a great time to squeeze in this type of exercise as it beats the hell out of sitting on a couch watching TV for two days straight. You need that weekend to re-energize and recharge the batteries of the mind and body I understand, but they will be recharged much faster and much more if you are enjoying yourself in a way that benefits your health immensely.
The point is with this topic, once you have implemented your healthy lifestyle be it training in the gym, doing sprints in the park, a bootcamp outdoors or something similar it is only going to speed up your results if you add incidental exercise – the exercise you don’t think about because it’s either too much fun, or it’s essential to you getting something you want or need.
3rd Important Change – Make Change
I was recently talking to a lady in the gym who was training to gain lean muscle mass but wasn’t making as much progress as she would have liked – after a bit of a discussion it turns out that she hadn’t changed her program for months! Sure she had gotten results from it, but those results had slowed and almost stopped.
You must commit yourself to change, just as you have committed yourself to your exercise program. The will to succeed should be driving you and the desire to achieve excellence- with the right mindset and in particular attitude you will know when it is time to make some changes, just listen to your body and make the changes that allow continued success!
You MUST change the program regularly to ensure that you don’t hit a plateau and that you continue to make progress because nothing is more frustrating than busting your guts in the gym, eating really healthy meals and making some sacrifices when you aren’t making progress! It all depends on your training age, which is the years you have spent training either under the watch or guidance of a coach, or training at an intense level. If you are relatively new to the gym you can get away with a training program for a little longer, possibly 8-12 weeks. If you are more intermediate it may be 6-8 weeks and if you are advanced it could be 2-6 weeks depending on just how advanced. In some cases athletes change their programs each and every week because they have such a solid training base that their body adapts to the training so quick and given the pressure on athletes to perform at an elite level any type of plateau is best avoided!
Regular changes in a training program are incredibly important to making lifelong changes in your health and fitness.
If you have a great trainer or coach this won’t be a problem as they will know when you are ready to change the program around. These changes don’t need to be wildly drastic with one week doing dumbbell rows and the next doing 40 chin ups- they just need to be enough of a change to keep the body guessing and progressing.
Whether these changes are a slight change to reps, a tempo change, shorter sets, longer rest, a change to load, intensity or workout duration they are important to keep your results on track! At the end of the day, no change in the program leads to no change in the results. In my mind these are three changes that must be implemented to ensure success. Like I said it is frustrating to be working hard and not getting the results you deserve. If you are training smart in the weights area, regularly changing your program up to keep progressing and add incidental exercise to your lifestyle you are sure to see drastic changes in your body.
I have seen many clients make these changes to their lifestyle and observed the changes they have undergone as a result. New found strength gains when changing from the treadmill to deadlifts, a new outlook on weekends when they try paddle boarding, surfing or basketball and constant progress with well timed, thorough programming.
I hope you have enjoyed the article and even more so hope that it helps you in your quest for change or a friend or family member in theirs. Just remember to ask for help if you need it along the way – there are many people who are willing to help out!
Ask any questions you may have in the comments section and I hope to talk to you again soon!
– Clint Hartley
Personal Trainer at Elevate Fitness