This is an analogy for resistance training….Picture this scenario……You want to get to Florida from Chicago and you need a map to do it since you are going to drive. You come upon this guy who says he can help you out since he has a map. He pulls the map out and you notice that the map only provides details on how to get from Chicago to California. He says “No big deal, you can use the same map, you just have to drive slower”. I would be willing to bet most people would give this guy more than a bit of side eye.
Well the above analogy is kind of how I feel when people talk about workouts and goals. It could be at the store or in the lobby of some of the buildings I work in, but invariably I hear people talking and discussing how they should workout. The basic non-fitness professional, workout enthusiast seems to know very well the general workout concepts created by bodybuilders from nearly 100 years ago. Multiple sets, increasing weight/decreasing reps each set for 3-5 sets per exercise, splitting body parts up so that you do different body parts each day and never working out a body part 2 days in a row….these are pretty familiar to this particular crowd.
Now in 26 years of being a fitness professional I would have to say that every one of those weeks, I ran into at least 1 person that says that they don’t do weight training or that they hate doing it because it makes them “too big”. (It seems that each rep acts like an air pump on their muscles so that if too many reps are done, their body just blew up and oops! Too big)
I would also say that the majority of people that I run into want to be leaner and tighter, meaning that they want their body mass to take up less space on Earths surface. So when the topic comes to resistance training, I ask what style of resistance training are they doing. This leads to blank looks and a response that is similar to the following…..“I didn’t know there was more than one way to resistance train”. The Bodybuilding way of resistance training from above? Great for increasing muscle mass and strength or as we like to say, increasing muscle hypertrophy. So another way to say that is that it will increase your body mass on Earths surface. But remember that we said the goal of most people is the opposite?
If your goal is to become smaller, leaner and tighter, then why would you follow a training system that, at its core, is designed to get you bigger? Here is a common myth….people seem to think that the act of lifting the weight is what gets a person bigger. Wrong! The act of lifting weights microscopically damages your muscle cells, but where you get bigger is when you rest. And that rest can come in the set itself, between the sets and between each workout. The more you can rest after you stimulate the cell by resistance training, the bigger you can theoretically get. But what happens when you severely restrict all rest points? The muscle cannot hypertrophy then, meaning it can’t get bigger. Instead, we have noticed (from a couple of thousand measurements taken over 2 decades, not the hugest sample size of America, but enough to allow us to form this opinion) that the muscle grows denser and leaner, thereby reducing a persons overall mass but improving their overall fitness.
Following a bodybuilding protocol is just not something our customers do well on, when they are looking to reduce their clothes size while maximizing their time working out. It led us to develop our Laws of Leanness that helps guide us in all our workout developments for people trying to be smaller and tighter:
-Never split body part days up, instead workout the whole body each workout
-Focus on the amount of tension and wattage you can produce with your muscles and not the amount of weight you lift
-Combine exercises that make blood flow go from one area of the body to another on a diametrically opposed area, instead of having only exercises hit just one area of your body
The above are products of our Time Under Tension and Mechanical Inefficiency Principles that have proven to be very successful for our clients and customers. Give them a try if you are getting frustrated with your resistance training and not seeing the results that you are looking for. After all, a good map is worth its weight in gold….