Browse Tag: progress

DEATH OF THE OVER EXERCISER

So you want to know how often you should be hitting the gym if you want to reach your fat loss goal?

The answer is way less than you think.

We live in a society, however, that thinks that more is better. We think if we can just get to the gym 6 times a week, then we will automatically win. If we can just log more miles or cut more calories, the prize will be ours.

This type of thinking will only take us down a road of frustration.

The reality (and slighty less revelatory) is that only better is better. Quality is of the highest quality so to speak. This is true for our 3 big goals: fat loss, mass gain, and performance enhancement.

Can we talk about this?

THE RULES

If you read me for a while now, you know I don’t like putting people in boxes and I certainly don’t like stating what we can and can’t do (because there are just too many crazy, talented people out there who will be the exceptions to my advice).

So I am not going tell you how often you should workout.

Instead, I am going to give you 2 rules.

#1 BE ABLE TO SEND THE SIGNAL

This is the quality I was speaking of. We are not just showing up to show up, but showing up to perform BETTER. Now better can mean many things so we first have to figure out the signal that we are trying to send and then work on making that signal better.

In general –

  • If our goal is fat loss, we want to mix low intensity exercise (like walking) with high metabolic work (like lifting weights).
  • If it is muscle growth, we need to do more volume consistently.
  • If it is performance, we need to get better at what we want to get better (sometimes not so obvious for people).

When our body adapts (ie when we see progress), so does the signal. So that means we have to constantly keep going back to the drawing board to make that signal stronger and clearer. The people you see coming back to the gym year after year who seemingly don’t progress? They failed to change their signals.

If we are unable to send the signal, than our recovery is probably lacking.

#2 BE ABLE TO RECOVER

You can train all you want, but if you are not allowing the time and the materials for the proper adaption (discussed here and here), then you will not see squat for an adaptation.

The thing is, most exercise is stressful. If you  are already living a stressful live (from lack of sleep, bad food, allergies, emotional bullshit, etc.) than adding MORE STRESS will not be in your favor. Stress on top of stress without a means to recover and become stronger equals becoming fat(ter). For real. We can thank cortisol for that.

In my experience, people add way too much unnecessary stress through the way they exercise.

They don’t go hard but they don’t do light exercise either (which can be restorative). Instead, they dance right in the middle in a place I call “No Man’s Land”.

Most of the exercise people do requires only moderate (mediocre?) intensity. This is things like distance running, spin class, and other aerobics. When they do lift, they tend to leave a lot of effort on the table.

Now this is great for beginners and people just getting into this, but after a while the signal will just not be strong enough.
At the far left of the graph will be a load of low-intensity exercises. This includes walking, skating, yoga, mobility, hiking, and other things that we can do while keeping a conversation.

We skip the middle (because the signal sucks) and go straight for the goodies at the far right. The goodies is lifting weight (either external or body) and doing things in a faster, heavier, tensor manner.

The far right? This is hard. This is stuff that invites our mind to tell us why we shouldn’t or can’t do it (AND this is exactly why we must). This is the signal we need.

 

SO…

“How often should I workout?!”

Start with twice a week and go from there. Most people will only be able to handle two hard workouts a week. Very few will be able to do 3. Even fewer 4.

Now the light stuff you can do everyday. In fact, I urge you to do this everyday. Walk to work or to the grocery store. As far as keeping fat off or improving wellness, this habit will make the biggest difference.

Now to tie up some loose ends:

  • Everyone should exercise at least once a week. There are no exceptions to this. If you are in pain and/or think you’re too old, give machines a try
  • Dudes should work out more than dudettes. Testosterone exists for a reason. If you do not use it, you’ll lose it.
  • Runners will think they need to spend a lot of time in “No Mans land ”. While this may be true of professionals, it is not so for amateurs. You can get better by doing light and intense sessions only (will speak on this soon).
  • If your goal is strictly health and longevity, the max you probably want to train will be twice a week. The reasoning being, the less training, the less “wear and tear“ we accrue.

Okay.

I feel good about this.

Thanks for reading.

WHY CHASING 6 PACK ABS MAY MAKE YOU FATTER

why 6 pack abs will make you fatter

Fitness is the easy part.

Not sacrificing your health in the process — that’s harder.

It’s often this sacrifice that makes many of the goals we set unsustainable and short-lived (such as trying to get unnaturally lean and/or vigorous “running everyday” type training).

When we go against our health and own well-being by chasing crazy ideals (often set by the media), we pay the price.

The thing is, though, no one is going to tell us to stop chasing 6 pack abs or world records in Crossfit (and no one should). What we should be talking, however, is all the dangerous roads that people take to achieve those end outcomes.

What we should be discussing is….

WHAT’S REALISTIC?

“For everything you have lost, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are no shortcuts in life and this especially true for our own health and fitness.

We like to think there is a pill we can take or that we if do an extreme 4, 8, or 12 week diet & exercise program that we can achieve our super hero body, but it just doesn’t work like that.

Change – both mentally and physically – is slow.

We know that, but we don’t really want to acknowledge it.

When the pills and the diets and the extreme workouts do manage to work, it is short-lived. Short-lived because our metabolism is wrecked and our hormones are shot and the overall stress load we have put ourselves is just too much to be able to recover from.

Those images you see of models in magazines and even body builders at the day of their show, that’s not real. They are water depleted, mega-tanned, pumped up, and only a couple days away from re-gaining back multiple pounds.

This is just how it is: Easy come, easy go.

Sure, there are body builders, models, and other freaky deeky athletes that do it right. For them, it is real and that’s how they look and perform almost all the time.

This elite group shares one common thread: Change slowly.

For them, there are no start-and-stop diets ( just a diet that they continually stick with). And
for them, there is no sudden burst of activity followed by months of Seinfeld on the couch (just a way of moving that they enjoy and fits in with their lifestyle).

Progress is slow but so is regress. [Note: And when regress is slow, you can do more normal human stuff like eat ice cream and not have to worry about it.]

I can honestly say I am now apart of this group, however, it was not always like this.

Truth is, Cara and I have done the whole “get fit quick” scheme.

The results? We got fit but it didn’t stick.

There is a reason we are not this lean anymore.

There is a reason we are not this lean anymore.

Not only didn’t it stick, but we both had to work smarter afterwards to regain the health we lost.

You see, when you are mentally fuzzy and your libido is non-existent and your constantly constipated and your even neurotic about every little calorie you consume, that’s what it means to lose health.

And that’s what many of us sacrifice in an attempt to get 6 pack abs or any other goal that is deemed extreme.

Now, I am not saying that you cannot get (and keep) a 6 pack. I’m just saying your time-frame and the amount of work you think will be involved is unrealistic.

Truth is, it will not be quick. Nor will it be easy. And if it is either of those, it will not be sustainable.

Same goes for our athletic performance (e.g going from the couch to training 5 times a week is recipe for pain and injury).

Kapeesh?

K. Good. Getting back on track.

I started this post with the idea I was going to answer this question: “Realistically, how fit should we be?”

This late in the ballgame, I am still unsure.

What I am sure about, however, is this:

  1. Your quest for fitness shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of your health.
  2. If you commit to slow change, you could prevent the above from happening.
  3. If your persist onward towards fast, radical change, you’ll get burned out (and probably end up fatter than before).

In the end, the body always beats the mind.

Don’t put things on it that it can’t handle or doesn’t want.

We never win.