An amazing article was published in the Sunday Review of the New York Times by Daniel Duane. If you missed the artilce when it was fresh it is just below. Definitely read it before reading my thoughts..
Fitness Crazed by Daniel Duane
Fitness as an industry has truly exploded in the last ten years. We have moved beyond the 5-minute buns and 7-minute abs VHS tapes that your mom did when you were busy at grade school. Gyms have evolved from smelly boxes with old equipment to highly renovated health clubs with ammenities from door to wall. The equipment has evolved to give people mechanical advantages, track bio-markers, sync with Ipods, do your laundry, and even post to your Facebook for you so you don't have to tell your friends you are doing cardio-zumba-tonics.
It is is amazing really...
The problem is, that much like our youth, the fitness industry has a serious case of A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) for those who just came back from the Flinstones neighborhood. Every year there is a new a craze, a new fad, a new twist to training that grabs people by the hands and feet and pulls them in.
We've had wobble-boards and BOSU balls, Barre workouts, SoulCycle, and most recently Crossfit (don't get me started) capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of the exercise population. All the while, the nation has gotten wider waistlines, and more and more people have become frustrated enough to quit exercise all together.
As Daniel eluded, "found myself 40, fat and weak".
Daniel emerged himself in an outstanding "tablet" of knowledge by Mark Rippetoe. "Starting Strength" is an excellent book that properly explains the barbell lifts such as the press, squat, and deadlift. Furthermore, details on the power clean, bench press, and accessory work such as romanian deadlifts is covered. The program provided gives any beginner a shot at developing muscle, burning fat, and most importantly developing SKILL.
Look at your body right now, and think about what you've been doing. Have you developed skill? Have you put on any muscle mass? How about your aesthetics, less fat, more muscle? If the answer is no to any of these questions than please read below and make it your Bible!
1. Exercise should involve a component of skill. Doing a properly loaded squat with a barbell is far more beneficial to your metabolism and muscle than doing half-hearted squats on a wobble board while texting someone about your workout.
a. Take the time to master the skills of the lift. Whether you hire a trainer, or simply break it down on your own you need to master each of the barbell lifts. (women this applies to you as well! Barbells are not just for men, touching one does not give you hair on your face)
b. Focus on form before weight. Master load before volume. Master volume before manipulating intensity
2. Variation is not the secret to success. Doing 9 different things at one time is like watching tv, listening to your Ipod, reading a book, and posting to facebook at the same time. You may be able to physically DO IT, but are you really DOING anything? Don't let the culture of multi-tasking destroy your workouts.
a. Focus on developing no more than two things at one time. For example, strength and size go well together, as do strength and mobility, as does strength and power (come to think of it strength goes with EVERYTHING).
b. Focus on particular things for 6-8 week cycles and develop them to their fullest prior to advancing into another phase.
Example, strength and size for 8 weeks followed by strength and mobility, followed by strength and power for another 8. (24 weeks total)
3. Focus on the modalities of exercise that have stood the test of time.
a. Strength training with barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells
b. Mobility training with Yoga, Pilates, Trigger Point, and Foam Rolling
c. Metabolic training with HITT (high intensity interval training) that combines weight-lifting, bodyweight, and cardiovascular exercises into a bout.
d. Bodyweight mastery for endurance and strength
e. Cardiovascular training with running, walking, swimming, and sports.
NOTE: A few new additions to fitness that have their place include: TRX suspension system, Heavy Bands, Stair-masters, Medicine Balls, and Battle-Ropes. There may be more, but that is not the point.
4. Don't listen to your friends if they aren't qualified to give the advice. This also goes for people on instagram and twitter. (They may have abs and nice bodies, but do they even know what they are doing?)
a. I'm NOT saying ignore your friends and treat them like dirt because they aren't fitness professionals. I AM SAYING that a friend with a gut who does dumbbell curls twice a week or does Zumba isn't in a position to speak down to you about your habits.
b. STAY FOCUSED on what matters to you. That should be progress, growth, and building yourself to be the best version of you ever!
To wrap it all up into a neat package... Do yourself a favor and find a goal, learn about it, and pursure it relentlessly!
Till next time ladies and gents!