Sunday, August 18, 2013


What is the single biggest thing I see missing from most ineffective exercise programs?


I see people coming in to the gym everyday doing the same exercises at the same weight and the same 12 reps they have always done them, wondering why, month after month and year after year, they aren't seeing any change.  Often they are on the equipment reading a book, engaged in their music, watching television,
AT this point you are NOT working out, go home and talk on your phone
chatting on the phone (well at least this is not allowed at my Gym) not at all focused on the goals they are trying to accomplish.  It is truly a tragedy that they don't seem to understand.

To adapt, to change the body needs to be subjected to a certain level of stress at a certain intensity.  If the appropriate level is achieved, and  the eating is correct correct that adaptation it will happen.
The level of intensity required will vary primarily with how conditioned or deconditioned the you are.
Those who are completely deconditioned can see INITIAL improvements with surprisingly little intensity.  As those gains are made they are often surprised that the gains become harder to maintain.  As people become more conditioned the intensity levels have to go up.  An advance Olympic Weightlifter or Powerlifter will have to apply much more intensity to make the smallest gains.  Fortunately for us the intensity required, with the right amount of focus, is well within our means.

Set an appropriate Rep and Weight Range for your goals and use double progression.

In very simple terms your appropriate rep range might be 8-12 reps for, say, general physical fitness.  Once you are able to do your 12 reps over 2 or 3 sessions increase your weight.  Now you  might only get 8 reps or so at the new weight.  Work to increase your reps at every possible opportunity.  This is double progression, you progress in your reps until you hit your target then you increase in weight and start again building your reps.  It's an ongoing process with a built in level of intensity required for you to make each new rep PR.

MUCH more on double progression to follow in a later post.

Challenge yourself.

Challenge yourself to get one more rep in at least one exercise every day.

Find a Partner

Not to chat with, but to push you.

Find a Group

The group effects of various Boot Camp type programs, Running Clubs, Crossfit(TM) and sports teams are real.  In these types of programs you find like minded people that are focused on a common or similar goals.  

Many participants find others at around their level or a little better. In running find a pace partner at about your level or ideally a little better so that you can both push each other when the temptation to slack a little starts to take hold.


To the greatest extent possible focus on the movement you are doing, how your body is responding, your breathing, movement quality...
This is not to say I don't use headphones when I run longer distances, but still I try to run without
headphones at least once a week.  Look the fact of the matter is that longer duration activities cannot be done with the same level of focus and intensity that shorter interval work is done.

The solution is to do relatively shorter bursts of more high intensity work.

Particularly during interval or hill training I like to focus o how I am responding to the interval sequence or hill and how I am recovering, how my body is feeling, etc.  Listening to your body can provide important clues as to when to push or when to back off.  Being immersed in the latest catchy beat tends to drown out these signal to the detriment of progress.

If you want to learn how to focus and listen to your body, start with a Yoga class.  Note that no one in one of those classes would think of wearing headphones!
Much more on Focus as it relates to Training and Sports Performance to follow.

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