At the park yesterday with all the kiddos, we spotted a 12 year-old boy sporting a black Nike t-shirt with this slogan, “STOP Exercising, START Training.” Good for him that he already gets it because many people, in their 20s, 30s, 40, and beyond are still slogging away at ‘exercise’ not realizing it’s doing very little to get them to their fitness and physique goals.
Simply sweating and getting your heart rate up are great for general cardiovascular health. And if you tell me that’s your only goal, well ok then. But what about those of you who consistently take one, sometimes two classes a day, forking over an average of $20-30 per class? What are you after? What are you trying to achieve?
If you are trying to achieve specific physique goals, doing the same cardio routine, or banded work without periodization, tracking or progressive overload will just not cut it. Here’s a specific example from an Accelerate convert (and we see this one often). The goal? She wants to build a better booty. Prior to finding Accelerate, she was attending a variety of studio classes (often twice a day), cycling, running and doing banded glute work. At first, she said, the classes worked brilliantly, she lost weight and saw some muscle gain. But now she’s working as hard as ever and results have plateaued and stalled.
Enter Accelerate. She joins and starts attending Tuesday, Thurs and Sun strength classes to start, continuing with the cycling or running on the other days (this is fine, BTW). Behind the scenes, we are programming periodization and progressive overload (see the last blog post on the focus for the month of May …). She starts to increase her weights, she starts to hip thrust, she starts to back squat and lunge, increasing weight, entering periods of hypertrophy and overload. All programmed behind the scenes, all formatted to achieve specific objectives. She sees results. Next, she drops her cycling and adds Maximal Output Training on Wednesday and Saturday. Cardiovascular efficiency improve from the sprint work, which means she recovers more quickly between sets and can go heavier on strength days. She drops her extra classes and starts working out just once a day, five days a week. She learns to take a day (or two!) off. Her performance and physique improve dramatically.
The example above is so common, we can predict it now. Don’t be fooled into thinking your exercise is achieving results just because it still feels difficult. Exercise can feel difficult without giving you much bang for your buck. Continuing to run at 10.0 on the treadmill will certainly burn calories, but if your goal is a tighter body, there are quicker ways to get there.
When you first start exercising, the improvement is massive. You’re going from doing absolutely nothing to moving your body. You will see adaptations, weight loss, improved cardiovascular performance and muscle gain. But if you keep showing up for that, even if you increase intensity, progress will not be linear.
And this is where so many people get it wrong.
If you want your body to maintain something closer to linear progress and changes, you will need a plan that is systematic and intelligent. Relying on daily hard work isn’t enough. This is where training and exercise differ. Training is an approach toward a specific goal with ways of measuring progress and implementing more challenge.