The fitness industry is caught up in a good ole catch 22. On one hand the movement to eat right and train hard is more powerful than ever. On the other, we’re getting sucked into the vortex of moving as quickly as we can with little focus on form, true function and strength.
Let me ask you a dumb question; the purpose of working out is to be healthy, right?
As you might answer with some other factors such as stress relief and aesthetic benefits, you cannot deny the underlying force behind working out is to be healthy.
With that understood, the training pendulum has shifted so far over to metabolic training that trainers and trainees are now training as quick and as hard as they can, putting the body at risk.
My concern here is that the inevitability of injury with fast paced, high intensity training will lead to a more unhealthy population. Ask any personal trainer or coach what the biggest issue with their clients is and you’ll get the same across the board: nutrition. What we eat and drink will ultimately determine the extent of our body composition. While working out hard regularly will still help you see results, your training efforts are shifted more to overcome the negative affects of improper nutrition than towards the specific nature of your goal.
When you’re injured, you can’t train so now what you eat and drink shifts from 60-80% of the results you see to 100%….unless you have super good genetics and are under 30. However good genetics or not, at a certain point we can’t control the hormonal and muscular skeletal affects of aging.
I believe there are ALWAYS positives and especially here with the Fitness Cliff approaching. The hardest part of working out is getting yourself to workout. So if you’re currently following a strictly metabolic based program or as a trainer have clients interested in strictly metabolic training, you’re right where you need to be. Just make the following tweaks and you’ll be good to go.
- Slow down and “check yo self” : Are you performing the movements correctly? Ask yourself why you are performing a particular movement, than match up the “why” with what you feel. If you work with a trainer, he or she should already be doing this but don’t be shy to reinforce your desire for proper form.
- Mix in endurance (aerobic) aspects: Let’s be clear first that just as there is a shift completely on the metabolic end of the fitness pendulum, there’s an equal or greater amount of people stuck on the aerobic side of the fitness pendulum (traditional cardio, aerobic classes). Find a common ground; perform aeorbic training 1-2 days a week and rather than short intense sets, perform volume sets with 15 plus reps or >50 seconds of time under tension or movement with 15-90 seconds if circuit training.
- Don’t forget the middle ground! If metabolic, high intensity training is short, high intensity sets and endurance training is longer-slower sets, the middle ground is a moderate intensity and moderate time under tension or movement duration. In a traditional weight training text books this is known as hypertrophy or the muscle building phase; 8-12 reps or 30-45 seconds with 15 – 45 seconds of rest.
- Build Strength: The key to strength training is lifting heavier weights for lower repetitions, with good form of course. The general population tends to fear strength training because of the fear of bulking up, especially woman. Unless your program is strictly strength based, you have nothing to worry about! In fact, I’d argue the strength phase (s) of training is more important than the hypertrophy phase (s) of training when it comes to “toning up” or “getting ripped.”
- Treat your E.A.D.D. or Exercise Attention Deficit Disorder: To my knowledge there is no clinically proven E.A.D.D. (at least not yet I’m sure this could be proven). I use this term to explain that “thing” in our brains that make us think we need to be doing something all the time e.g doing high knees in between sets of push-ups. Proper rest is necessary. If you are like me and have an issue standing or sitting down as you rest, perform sets of “Active” rest where you perform tissue work and/or stretch in between sets.
While we’re on the issue of training aimlessly as fast as possible, its only suiting to mention Cross Fit. I don’t hate Cross Fit. I think it serves an important need for high level trainees and can offer an opportunity to perform fitness as a sport. However my concern is novice and general population fitness enthusiasts going balls to the wall in a Cross Fit Workout despite any contraindications or limited experience with Technical lifts. I have a hard time mentioning Cross Fit as one population since it’s made up of independent affiliates all over the world, where some club’s focus on form is far greater than others but the correlation between Cross Fit and knee/back/shoulder issues cannot be denied.
Take a look what you are doing, where you are at physically and focus on you can get better. Learning is not a sign of weakness – it’s the complete opposite. Learning means growth.
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