An Honest Look at Your Fitness Plan
As trainers, we often get frustrated when we see our members doing the same exercises at the same weights over and over again and still expecting their bodies to change. This, to us, seems a bit like Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Rather than getting frustrated, I think it’s time to share some of what we help our members do all the time; plan a week of exercise in such a way that ensures that we do the things that we really need to do to get our bodies to change.
As trainers we often find that if we don’t specifically lay out the objectives of training on a weekly basis, our students end up defaulting to the types of exercise they naturally find compelling because of familiarity or comfort. Take a look at your week and see what your training is developing. Compare that to what you need to develop. It is quite likely that there is one or two areas that that we are not effectively addressing. We tend to default to training what we are already “good” at; runners want to run more, yogis want to do more yoga and strength athletes want to do more strength training. It is likely that we could all benefit from an honest audit of our fitness routine in light of what we’re already great at vs. what probably needs more attention!
To more carefully consider a weekly schedule, let’s start with the three basic components of fitness that, when in appropriate balance, allow us to change our bodies in the way that we decide we want or need. Those three are strength, mobility and endurance. If we honestly assess our needs and identify lacking qualities of fitness, what do we do next? Surprisingly, the answer is simple, and all of the tools are right at our fingertips… For mobility needs (flexibility fits in here), yoga is a fantastic choice. If it is endurance that we need, the options are often overwhelming: treadmill, elliptical, rower, pool, track, cycling, etc. Most group exercise classes that are not based on the floor (Pilates or yoga) are also terrific choices for building endurance. Strength, on the other hand, does in fact, require lifting things that are heavy. Unless one is brand new to working out, or coming off of a long layoff, it generally takes a load that cannot be moved safely for more than 10 or 12 repetitions to actually build strength. Any more than that is another form of endurance.
If your goal is to change your body, and you aren’t willing to change your routine, this really places us (both the exerciser and fitness coach) in a difficult position. If you are showing up and working out consistently but aren’t getting results, take stock of your goals and make sure your behaviors align with those that get the results you seek. Avoid Einstein’s sharp observation and either change what you’re doing, or change your expectations!