Strength Training and Goals - the Foundation
The next American revolution will be in the Quality of Life of its citizens. In fact, it is already happening. That is the reason we even formed Cado in the first place. To facilitate this revolution.
Fitness and health in a holistic sense have become quite popular in recent years. Strength training is at the core of this quality of life paradigm shift. The greatest challenge is in focusing on the details to perfect each phase of the Performance-Based Model we are preaching here. As each phase is perfected, the time spent on it will be less, and your custom workout regimen will become more efficient (winning!).
Once this Strength Training step is perfected, you will have a real foundation for excellent quality of life. Including foam rolling and dynamic warm-ups, and now strength training, we count a little over half an hour of total exercise time. You are now moving properly, as well as recruiting a lot of muscle. Depending on your ability to perfect each step, you could even be finished after about 30 minutes in the gym.
But first, allow me to get a few things off my chest.
Most people don't have fitness goals. Clients don't always have their "fitness goals" in mind when they come to the gym. Maybe they did when we first started, but then life takes over. Fitness simply becomes part of it. That would be my goal for all of us, actually. Not everyone lives for fitness the way we professionals do, and I get that. Variety is the spice of life. If we were all exercise physiologists, physical therapists and trainers, who would grow food?!
Top fitness professionals understand that their clients' broader lives matter much more to them than just their hour with us. We fully appreciate and anticipate that. It is an honor and a responsibility when a client trusts you wholeheartedly. Humbly, we professionals assume the roles of life-performance-enhancers. A "quality of life advancer," if you will. One session, several times per week that helps increase someone's energy and performance in the areas that matter most to them. Sounds exactly like an athlete, actually. And that is the point!!!
"Fitness goals?" you ask. "Well, I haven't really thought of that." Great, no problem. Even better, actually. Some people may "choose" fitness goals because the fitness world told them to. We prefer to nudge people along the Performance Continuum as they decide if they even have more specific goals.
Quality professional help can take you higher in ways you had not imagined. Getting to know our clients is half of the fun. Sometimes, it isn't until 6 months later or longer when the real goal comes out. After we have gotten to know the person behind the fitness clothes. That, in my opinion, is the artistic side of exercise implementation. It is an art form.
On the other hand, #shreddingforthewedding, training for a race, a hike in the mountains or a vacation kayaking tour are all realistic, life-based fitness goals. This is another of our areas of expertise. The set of specific goals is simply up to you. For any goal at all, a clinical exercise consult is worth pursuing.
"I want to get fitter. I want to lose weight." Let's call those "broad goals." Generally applicable. Still applicable and important. But you cannot "do" weight loss; that is a side-effect of what you do. We will discuss this topic more next week when we get into conditioning.
So, whether you are training for specific athletic competition or nothing in particular, the following principles of strength training still apply to you. The specifics, though, are in the minutiae.
A single, quality, focused effort repeated several times weekly is the goal here. (Disclaimer: no, we are not saying here just sets of one rep)
Much of this topic pertains to and builds upon our recent articles on mobility: first move well, then move powerfully. Reversal of that order raises the risk of injury. Small increments forward without big steps backward is the desired effect here. Hedging risk.
After age 30, we all tend to age steadily. Even those who are in college but who no longer compete athletically can adopt this mindset for optimal Life Performance. Hence the reason for six articles on movement prep before we even get into how to really move with some weight.
Also be sure to check out The Phyt Chick's post about stretching for more guidance on movement prep and the role of Physical Therapists in fitness:
and this post by Zachary Getz of Gotham PT if you have any injury concerns, or are yet more interested in Physical Therapy's role in your fitness regimen:
Strength and power training is quite simple. Move your larger muscle groups (the more muscles recruited the better) with the assistance of your smaller muscles and support from your trunk in a coordinated manner.
You want to first gradually increase the loads you lift, the amount of weight, (think 18-wheeler carrying a shipment), and down the line, increase the speed at which you lift a perhaps lighter load (sports car carrying two passengers).
The format we use checks all major boxes for health and well-being:
1. Athletic / Life Performance
2. Optimal Hormonal Responses to Exercise for Long-Term Improvement (scientific way of saying optimal calorie-burning technique)
3. Efficient in Time Spent
4. Hits all energy systems (again, efficiency)
5. Low Volume of Repetitions to Minimize Risk of Injury - especially important for the elderly (why do a standard, linear periodization model for muscular endurance / muscle building when 12-15 reps with little rest can be very risky for the tissues of an immobile, perhaps elderly person? I say skip right to mobility-improvement and strength training, responsibly).
The philosophy behind it:
1. Most of us are busy people. We perfected our model to bridge the gap between clinical needs and fitness goals while accounting for time spent.
2. Strength training can increase beneficial hormone levels in both men and women:
- Free and total testosterone
- Growth hormone
3. Gains in muscle strength and power (coordination) facilitate a higher work rate and therefore a higher rate of calories burned during our conditioning work (article coming next week), which helps improve control of hormones and blood markers that, when out of balance, can sabotage our health goals:
- Leptin (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967592)
- Insulin and Fasting Blood Sugar (https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2007-972627)
- LDL, Total Cholesterol, TC/HDL ratio (http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC4535561/)
- Combination of Resistance Training and Aerobic on improvements in blood profile (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1056872714003298)
So, by now you are maybe thinking, "Stop stringing us along, Tim. Just tell us what to do in the gym!" It's not that simple. Ok, I lied. It is that simple. But poor application can get you hurt.
Each strength training regimen is customized based on real-time needs, extrapolated towards longer-term goals. I've had a once-a-week client for a little over a month now who works out the rest of the time on her own. Each week we have made tweaks to her overall program. But, she has also been lifting weights and following her own exercise plan for years. You get the point..
Are we going to tell you exactly to do here? No. That would be mass-customization. We are not in that business. But, we will give you some hints.
The Strength and Conditioning Journal released an article early this year highlighting the use of this same "work while resting" technique with Post-Activation Potentiation in improving linear- and change-of-direction speed.
We have been employing this "work while resting" technique for years in overall performance and health. Hint, hint.
Now you might be thinking, "Why not just tell us what to do?"
First, exercises and their combinations cannot be trademarked, copyrighted or patented. You wouldn't give somebody a nickel every time you did a squat. Hence, the current state of the fitness market. Brands, fitness videos, equipment - those can all be patented, licensed, sold, franchised. Currently, the commercial side of the industry far outweighs its scientific abilities; we see this as a deficiency. Hence our desire to build a bridge between the clinical realm and commercial fitness. It would be less than professional for us to tell you blindly what to do in the gym today.
Second, we can give you the broad overview here without knowing you personally. However, the specific needs come specifically from you! There are a lot of moving pieces. Our clients rely on us to walk them through their programs in bite-sized steps they can handle and with which they can become intuitively familiar.
Third, too many in the industry are in a rush to colonize a segment of the fitness sector, to plant a flag in order to be known as "the person" for X, Y or Z. While a decent marketing strategy, being pigeon-holed early on in your fitness career can be a hindrance to potential growth in the bigger market.
Fourth, and most importantly, What we do is not so important as the Why. All I ask is that you know why you are doing something. We could line up ten different trainers who prescribe dead lifts for their clients, and we could have ten different reasons for doing so. Some may be good reasons, some not. But the point is that applications of exercise must be specific to the individual, and well thought through.
With all of the ongoing talk surrounding the subject area known as Mindfulness, I really hope it trickles into people's fitness regimens.
Excellent Quality of Life is not difficult. Becoming physically fit, even the best shape of your life, is not difficult. Nor should it be torturous, take hours each day, or become the focal point of your life.
An excellent fitness and eating regimen serves people well when it is gradually assimilated and, eventually, intuitively automated. Or, simply, made into a habit. Even people like us who work in the industry need an occasional, albeit short, break from it. But, it is telling just how automated your workout regimen is by how you respond to exercise when coming back from vacation. Lots of people fall off the wagon by stepping off onto a beach, and failing to return. R and R is important, but the better your habits going into vacation, well you get my point.
All excellent physical fitness requires is the proper plan and execution. Maybe five hours per week of focused effort, with some planning ahead. That is about 3% of your week. The return on investment is much greater. Think of exercise and fitness as a life-performance-enhancer.
Have a great week!
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