Some Not So Entirely Random Thoughts

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Do The Opposite:

Whatever training info you see in mainstream media or whatever it is you see at the average crowded gym, you could likely do well for yourself by doing the opposite.  See lots of people training arms and chest?  Train your legs and back.  See tons of info about muscle confusion and results measured in days?  Stick to a plan and think about the long term process.  I read an article recently in a local magazine about training for summer. Although I agree with some points, like staying consistent, the “trainer” suggested doing a different routine every time you workout.  Doing the exact same thing every day doesn’t make sense but doing something different, including using dumbbells one day, kettlebells another and yet cables on another makes no more sense than the former.  I personally know the best way to not get better at an exercise and get painfully sore is to not practice it with frequency.  Even for those that are consistently active, the best way to feel like a failure in the gym is to keep trying something new and either failing at it or not seeing any progress in all of the other things that you only practice once in a great while. The author also suggest High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which I am totally on board with. However, he suggested using this method for 20-30 minutes at a time which to me sounds rather excessive.  Although adequate rest is suggested, high intensity doesn’t coincide with 30 minutes for most people.  So what is a better suggestion?

Chip Away:

I see a chiropractor/soft tissue/human movement specialist guy once every 5-6 weeks to get assessed and stay on track.  No matter what he is having me work on he always says, “Chip away at it.”  Meaning, do a little bit every day and sometimes a few times a day. Regardless of your goals whether it’s the summer body mentioned above, more fat loss, getting stronger, eating better, interval training (HIIT), you’ve got to chip away at it. Little by little and it gets better.  Get out the chisel and leave the sledgehammer in the garage.  Don’t get frustrated, don’t try to make 10 changes in your diet at once and don’t try to do 30 minutes of alleged high intensity interval training.  One step at a time and chip away at it.

Diminishing Returns and Minimal Effective Dose:

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Enough is enough?

Alright.  So you’re ready to start chipping away. How much?  Well, consider the concepts of diminishing returns and minimal effective dose.  Consistent practice is very valuable but there is always a point at which the value begins to decrease. This isn’t always the same for everyone but ask yourself on a regular basis, realistically, “Am I beating a dead horse?”  I always like to use food as an example.  You might be really hungry and ready to go for it but there’s always that point when things go south. You might not even know right away but at some point the benefit and awesomeness of the food takes you back toward a negative direction, and training is no different.  In other words, even in training, get your fill, but only as much as you need to meet the goal.  Nothing more.  Everything else is just excess and likely moving toward an undesirable result.

– Mike Baltren