This is Part I of a 3-part series I will be writing in the coming weeks on The Framework Of Fitness
A Gift From Dad
People often tell me that I’m, “smart for a personal trainer.” On the scale of condescension, that’s just above saying, “you’re really cute for a fat chick.” Of course I am smart, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sensitive…
And it’s not even that I’m smart, it’s just that I have a high capacity for identifying and cutting through bullshit – the best gift my dad ever gave me, and one I am grateful for each day of my life. Most of what gets written about, talked about, and shared in the fitness world is bullshit; viral notions spread by memes which become the hard and fast rules of how things should be done in the gym.
I will suggest everything you are doing in the gym might be wrong – or pretty frickin’ far from right. Why? Because you might be following the mindless actions of others in the gym, and have avoided the cultivation of your own exercise knowledge and instincts. There is a chance you have never asked yourself some of the more important questions which need to be understood prior to assembling a successful exercise agenda.
Before anyone can adopt protocols for exercise, it’s important to ask one’s self and honestly answer, what it is that they are truly trying to accomplish in the gym. Only from that answer can a framework for fitness begin to be assembled. However, too many people never ask themselves that question. They buy their gym membership and seamlessly assimilate themselves into the monkey-see, monkey-do environment that is the modern fitness center. I believe with a little more thought, one might come away with a little more success and some better results from their workouts.
Inquiring Minds Want To Know; And So It Goes
I hear these questions most often from non-clients,
1. How much weight should I lift?
2. How many sets and reps should I do?
3. How often should I workout?
4. Which exercises are best?
5. How should I divide body-parts in my workout?
My answer to these questions is usually, “It depends, what are you trying to accomplish?”
Most often I’m met with an, “I wanna get into shape.”
To which I reply, “What does that mean to you?”
The conversation usually ends right there, for a lack of continued substance.
Those six questions above are also asked by gym members, every day, in fitness centers across the country. Unfortunately, they are most often asked of other gym members, who’s answers arrived from other gym members still, when they first joined the gym. And so it has gone, and so it goes…
Let Me Count The Ways
Quantity of sets, repetitions, exercises per workout, exercises per body-part, workouts per week, etc., matter a lot less than one might be sold into believing. I suggest that all of these elements are important, but are depended on and adhered to excessively by the fitness masses.
There appears to be a built-in assumption that there are black and white answers here – only rights and only wrongs when it comes to the questions above. Really, there are not. There are instincts, common sense, experimentation, and the elementary framework for your personal fitness which might evolve from the cultivation of these.
What Matters Most In Strength Training (To Me)
Sets, reps, and the best exercises notwithstanding (I will attempt to cover those in Part II of this series), there are five things I seek from a strength exercise, above everything else:
- A complete range of motion.
- Being able to feel – to mentally connect with the muscles I am trying to engage.
- Perfect form from the first repetition through the last.
- That the weight used is challenging, but achievable.
- That I identify and respect the line between not doing enough, and doing too much.
I seek these things because after giving it much thought, and regularly revisiting my objectives, what I now want from my strength training are these:
- Stronger muscles
- More flexible muscles
- More functional muscles
- Well shaped and full muscles
- A meditative state, under the strain of the weights, to help clear my head
That’s it; Part I of this series on the Framework Of Strength Training.
Please take a moment to comment here on what it is that you currently seek from your strength exercises? Your answer may influence Part II of this series.
To be continued…
Please check back in a week or two for Part II of this series. Thank you for taking the time.
Oh, and there is this from a very young Nick Lowe. Enjoy…