I know that fitness market is full of various attractive ways of exercising but have you ever been wondered what you really need to catch?
First and foremost, someone needs to completely asses you (injurie and exercising history, potential chronic diseases, functional testing, finding strong and weak body links…) before an exercising get started (first of all a medical examination should take the role). This is the most important thing because after that your trainer will know WHAT YOUR INDIVIDUAL BODY REALLY NEEDS!
It’s a nonsense that you stick to some suspicious yoga classes if you feel low back pain (for example) just for the reason your best friend attend the same. Socialization is important for sure and you feel more comfortable when you go on sessions with your friend(s), but if you unconsciously make a wrong decision (because of ignorance) exercising could make your hidden problem(s) even worse.
I understand that group workouts (most popular among women especially) are fun, exciting and well feeling presented after that (the last is because of hormonal mechanism, you can feel well even after the worst exercising in case you don’t vomit – I am talking about well feeling in your brain, not muscles – muscles and bones could stick you a few days at the bed in case of overload 🙂 ; of course you will have well feeling in brain and muscles both but only after appropriate exercising) but trainer can’t pay attention on your technique (take a look on the last pic below), individual load or individual exercise selecting (one size fits all approach will never live). According to this, if you have started exercising because of some constant little pain and weakness you could feel even worse after unappropriated exercising – your problem could become bigger!
Also, after group (mostly endurance) exercising you can’t gain an appropriate strength which is something most important to anyone (you can correct almost any problem with a proper resistance exercising).
“Do you want a sexy drill or a drill that works? Personally, I like drills that work and I hope you do as well because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how ‘fancy’ or ‘cool’ something is if it isn’t effective.” – Ryan DeBell
Remember, the rule is the same as well when it comes to strength training: “If you want to benefit from weights, you cannot dance with them, you must lift them.” – Charles Staley
“Rather than constantly changing your workout program and trying to “shock” or “confuse” your muscles, follow a fundamentally sound program that addresses YOUR needs and goals, work at improving your form, apply the principle of progressive overload, do so consistently, and indefinitely. You might be surprised at what happens 😉 . Jumping from one program to the next because “you get bored easily”, or because you believe in the concept of muscle confusion, will hinder your progress, and quite frankly, will make you feel bored and unmotivated.” – Meghan Callaway
“Training may not always be fun, but it will be rewarding. Lifelong rewards beat temporary fun.” – T Nation
I strongly believe that a good exercise technique till details and a proper – individual load are among the most important things – therefore 1 on 1 or small groups (2-4) sessions are the best exercise option. Trainer’s attention will be devoted only to you or to 2-4 people (that’s what I call the quality). Exercise session should never last over 1 hour and 10 mins, of course that can be shorter – 1h is average (obese people are the exception – 1h and 30 mins approx.).
If you don’t feel motivated – not mental strong and willing to “compete” with yourself – to exercise alone (or your trainer is not motivated to motivate you – change the trainer if it’s case) or you like to “compete” with your friend(s) or someone else (your friends are “pushing” you) the small group setting is the great option. Some people just love to speak with some exerciser(s) during the session. Others feel great if speak just with trainer. Someone don’t want to talk at all. Everything is individual. Coach Charles Staley said something interesting: “If you lack sufficient motivation, your goal isn’t compelling enough.” Think about it 🙂 .
When it comes to motivation, TC Luoma said something interesting: “Motivation? Ask me if I need motivation to love my wife, my dogs, the occasional friend, the smell and taste of good food, glorious nature, great music, terrific books, or life itself. The answer is no, and the same goes for lifting.” – TC Luoma
So, “hormones of happiness” rules 🙂 . “if we want to be happy, everything we need are: job we love, family, exercising and humour…” – Vladimir Koprivica
Other important thing is that your body needs individual training program with a proper progression when you properly adapt on the previous one.
At the end, a few words about some well-known and most popular exercising types. Yoga is good for mobility, stability and relaxing – through proper breathing (everything makes sense if yoga teacher understands how human body works) but there is just a few good teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I took a lot of good flexibility (for dynamic and static flexibility/stretching purposes) exercises from Yoga and some good muscle activation – soft strength drills from Pilates, but you must to have a proper knowledge for implementing it correctly.
Group workouts (Aerobic, Pilates, various dancing, popular boxing…) can also be good but without too many effort and jumps – especially for older people (it’s not easy to learn a proper jumping technique – it’s a very complex).
Power plate is good for athletes (work on stabilizers mostly – small muscle groups; faster recovery process…) but not for someone who wants fat loss results or muscle building (how can you achieve some serious results with small stabilizers?!).
Popular HIIT training (high intensity interval training) is not bad if your goal is boosting metabolism instantly (effect is not so strong after the workout because by doing HIIT you can’t build muscles too much – accelerate protein metabolism; here I am talking about the day after…) and strength endurance (the goals of athletes mostly during the first-two week(s) of the off-season – preparatory period). Fat burning effect is good but only during the workout and a bit after – for the same reason). So, “building muscles” should be almost everyone’s goal at the gym. Plus, by doing HIIT you are getting tired and your technique could be not so good under fatigue which means you risk an injury. During HIIT our body is producing lactic acid. Lactic acid is associated with enhancing fat loss because it’s in correlation with growth hormone increasing after metabolic workout. But we know that growth hormone increases after strength training also (resistance training that utilize many large muscle groups at once – where more total muscle fibers are called into play; lifting heavier loads at a greater frequency – less rest time). Growth hormone is the most lipolytic hormone in the human body. On the other hand, with endurance training, the release of growth hormone depends on intensity, duration, frequency as well as the type of exercise performed. Exercise performed above the lactate threshold for at least 10 minutes will create the greatest growth hormone release both during exercise and for the 24 hour period afterwards (Godfrey, R, et al, 2003). Endurance training however, when taken too far, can actually cause a decreased effect on growth hormone release. When it lasts for longer periods of time, and is performed for a long duration, growth hormone deacreases while cortisol (the hormone responsible for breaking down the body’s tissues) increases. Some researchers have concluded that both HIIT and weight training produced more afterburn that cardio for up to 21 hours post-exercise, but, suprisingly, they also noted that theirs is the rare study showing that HIIT has a higher afterburn than cardio when the workouts burn the same number of calories (steady state allows for a longer fat-burning session but interval training ramps up your metabolic rate and increases fat oxidation rates for hours after the workout is done). Even though a long, gentle cardio session burns a higher percentage of calories from fat, a HIIT workout of the same length will help you lose weight/fat faster. HIIT speeds up your metabolism – you can burn extra calories for a whole day after high-intensity exercise. HIIT works your body harder than long cardio sessions do, so all other things being equal, HIIT will give you faster results. However, it is hard on your body, and you should not attempt it unless you are already in good shape and looking for a way to push yourself. If you need to lose a large amount of weight/fat or you are unaccustomed to exercising, start with gentle, moderate exercise until your fitness level improves. You can get the same benefits from a shorter HIIT workout as you get from a longer, more moderate workout. This is really important and I need to repeat: “If you don’t like low-intensity-high-volume cardio you can shorten exercising by doing HIIT for the similar fat loss effect and it will be less boring for sure.” But as a CrossFit, you need to be optimally prepared for that! If you are prepared enough in every sense (conditioning, know the proper technique of already known exercises…) you can add some short HIIT part after the resistance training and save time with the best effect on fat loss! And you can imagine if you shorten rest time between sets of compound resistance exercises by doing “split” method before HIIT part (1 exercise for upper body – 1 for lower body for example so you don’t need an extra brake time between sets), you will make shorter but high quality fat loss session! In my opinion, if you are properly prepared, this is the best type of exercising!
“Many people say HIIT blunts their appetite which is helpful if you are trying to lean out. But no more than 2 sessions per week because it’s highly intensive (less is more). LISS (low intensity stady state) takes longer than HIIT – you can burn an equal amount of calories without putting a ton of unnecessary stress on your body. Always do more LISS than HIIT sessions per week. If Olympians are doing more LISS than HIIT, why should you be any different?” – Jordan Syatt
If your goal is fat loss and you are not sure whether to choose resistance training or cardio, read what Tony has to say: “Comparing minute-to-minute…accounting for intensity, cardio will almost always burn more calories compared to lifting weights – I’d say somewhere in the range of 2-3x more. However, it’s what your body is doing afterwards, when you’re sitting at home binging Stranger Things on Netflix or playing Magic the Gathering (<— can we hang out?), that’s the difference maker. When you hop off the elliptical machine you’re pretty much done burning calories. However, when you lift weights, in the hours after, you’re not done. It goes by several names – Thermal Effect of Exercise, Afterburn Effect, being a brick fucking shit-house – but when you lift weights, you’re burning calories looooong after you’re done. … Again accounting for intensity, lifting weights, for all intents and purposes, breaks down muscle to a (much) larger degree compared to cardio. It takes energy to build that muscle back up. This requires more energy from the body. This is what’s often used to best explain the AfterBurn Effect mentioned above. Muscle is more metabolically “active” tissue compared to fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Cardio doesn’t build (that much) muscle. You lose weight, but then you just end up looking like a smaller, weaker version of your original self. Sad face. I’ll tell people they should prioritize 2-4x per week of weight training and use their cardio to either compliment those days or serve as ancillary “bonus” days to get some exercise in.” – Tony Gentilcore
“Strength training is an investment in your future (more muscle, stronger bones, faster metabolism, etc). Cardio is a short-term rental (burned calories, endorphin release, improved work capacity, etc). Neither is better or worse. And they both have a time and place.” – Jordan Syatt
Oh, I almost forgot his highness the CrossFit. What to say man – it’s brutal in original settings (only in a good shape serious recreational or athletes both with perfect technique could do that correctly – any other should stay away of it). But you can smart modify settings for sure (original programming is poor – people need more rest between so complex moves, less number of reps sometimes – as well as exercises, individual load, some exercises modifications because different individuals can’t do the same always). So, train smart (and learn from mistakes of others)! Every AMATEUR CrossFit group need’s a few coaches for keeping things under control!
“Do every rep as if you were demonstrating perfect form to a newbie.” – Christian Thibaudeau
I know that male population is crazy for ball games. I don’t recommend football, basketball, soccer and similar for average population because a ball is a bait and I know you can’t wait to catch it without or with a little warm up before – injury risk is high because of a lot speed-agility-quickness demands (you need a SERIOUS warm up, otherwise the micro traumas theory is waiting for your muscles-joints-ligaments-tendons). Furthermore you need to be a perfect prepared for almost every game with a ball (I mean on constantly strengthening some well-known weak body links) and can’t go just 1 or 2 times per week to play soccer with friends and that’s all about your exercising (it’s a big stress for your musculoskeletal system and some serious – probably acute – injury will probably occur sooner or later). Every time is a new big stress – soreness, because it’s a pretty rare recreation.
Bicycle riding is a very popular kind of recreation (especially here in the USA – I am really surprised, they look like a pro bro :0 ). Why I don’t like it is due to bad sitting position of the body. Shoulders are rounded (results on pecs shortening adaptation); a whole back is mostly rounded (it’s a really bad when your upper back and especially lower back aren’t in neutral position); your glutes don’t have a chance to activate properly (full range of motion doesn’t occurs due to constantly bended torso position); neck is not at neutral position mainly (forward head with cervical spine lordosis); m. iliopsoas tends to short – adaptation on sitting position (if you ride a bike rarely it will not happen). So, most common postural deformities among a huge amount of people (kyphosis, lordosis and forward head – cervical spine lordosis) could become even worse (that deformities are closely linked and complement each other). But how it’s possible, it’s healthy – it’s a physical activity?! Yeah, it’s great for improving cardiovascular endurance but worthless when it comes to functional strength and postural status improving (your legs will become stronger but it’s not a quality way of strengthening at all).
Running is maybe the most popular type of exercising. I will be quick – like with ball games you need to be prepared and slim (running is not a simple thing – your whole musculoskeletal system could really suffer after a while if the technique isn’t correct and if it’s almost everyday activity). You can check more on my previous topics HERE and HERE. John Rusin has explained pretty well why running shouldn’t be your the only physical activity. “One thing that lifters have over runners is the ability to alter our training loads, methods, means, and frequencies more easily. Running is a single modality. So let’s learn from runners and their commitment, but also be damn thankful that we have more wiggle room that’ll allow us to be healthier, stronger, and more resilient for the long haul.” – Dr John Rusin
I strongly believe that you can’t solve your body problems just with one sort of exercising. In my opinion, resistance (+ bodyweight) exercising in combination with endurance sessions – 2:1 ratio approx. if you got alternately days (less joint stressful options: aquarobic, fast walking on soft ground…) is the best exercise option. When I say resistance (+ bodyweight) exercising, I mean on multijoint (compound) resistance exercises – can be in conjunction with balance and coordination, and on bodyweight exercises in combination with coordination and balance also (just avoid standing on a BOSU ball and similar, please).
If your goal is hypertrophy, you can use popular blood flow restriction training (BFR) a bit because some researchers have found similar effect on muscle growth with a way reduced load when it comes to BFR (less effort with similar results – who wouldn’t like it 🙂 ) . I know that it’s not natural to restrict blood flow but it’s pretty safe if you don’t use this method really often. I am talking here about general population and bodybuilders because: “When you compare the effects of light load strength training with BFR and conventional heavy load strength training, gainz in muscle size is similar, but changes in maximum strength is greater after heavy load training. Also, several determinants of maximum strength (tendon stiffness, specific tension, and voluntary activation) are greater after heavy load training, showing that BFR might be valuable for bodybuilders, but is not ideal for athletes.” – Chris Beardsley
“Put a premium on strength development and you’ll reach any goal. Even losing fat is tougher if you’re not strong.” – Eric Bach
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable! Lifting weights isn’t supposed to tickle. It’s hard and challenging and isn’t always fun. Get used to it. Thrive on it. The sooner you learn to love the process, the sooner you’ll get results others are too impatient to see.” – Jordan Syatt
“So many of our clients have the same needs now that they had 10 years ago. They need mobility and stability in the right areas. They need more anterior core, glute, hamstring, and upper back strength. They need to develop their energy systems in an appropriate manner. So develop a handful of templates and use those time and again. From that template, simply customize and tweak it to the individual client or athlete. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. There’s a time and place for that, but for 80-90% of your training population, develop a strong movement foundation and master the basics first.” – Mike Robertson
Last but not least, a proper (individual) intensity-volume ratio is crucial if you want to feel like on “seventh heaven”. If you get out of gym by crawling and with smiley face, and think that was a GOOD session and the only session like that can be a good one – I must tell that you are masochist! No, that was horrible for your body and you will feel it soon after.
“Push through discomfort and you’ll get bigger and stronger. Push through pain and you’ll wake up miserable in the middle in the night. Do it often enough and eventually, you’ll find yourself on an operating table. After that, you’ll be a burden for months on all the family members and co-workers that have to pick up the slack for your idiocy. And you definitely won’t wind up bigger or stronger.” – Eric Cressey
At the end, keep in mind: “No one ever got exceptionally lean, or muscular, or strong, by accident – you have to devote considerable energy to it and you have to literally force the issue sometimes. Your body is going to fight you every step of the way because it views your efforts as a threat to its survival. Long story short – I can show you the easiest ways to do these things, but bottom line, sometimes ya just gotta embrace the suck.” – Charles Staley
Thanks for reading and all the best,