Me: What is your current workout like?
Client: Some cardio. Then some weights and then abs.
Just so we’re clear – that answer means nothing to anyone who knows anything about fitness. So I ask the client to explain his/her routine in a little more detail and this what I get every single time.
- Mon-Wed-Fri – Weights + cardio for 30-40 min
- Tue-Thu-Sat – Cardio for 60-90 min
- Abs – 3-5 days a week.
Cardio = Elliptical machine or treadmill or stepper
Weights = Machine exercises (chest press, pec dec, rows, leg extensions, leg curls etc.), bicep curls,tricep pushdowns
Abs = Situps, crunches, side crunches, cycles, leg raises and everything else that works the abs!
I have one advice for you… stop freakin kidding yourself!
You have got to start looking as fitness as a product! For the most part, fitness, like anything else, obeys some basic laws. Ya know, something like consistent effort + good nutrition + recovery = results.
So if you have been working out consistently for a while but haven’t got the results you are looking for, you have the recipe to blame. While I need much more information to figure out what exactly is wrong, I’m pretty sure it is one (or more) of the following.
- The ingredients
- The quality of ingredients
- The prep
- The procedure
- The cooking time
If A + B + C = D, you need A, B and C to get D.
Let’s take the example of a cake. For a basic cake you need sugar, butter, flour and eggs. Each one of these ingredients play an indipensible role and you can’t really do without any one of these. Similarly, for general fitness you NEED the following.
- Strength training
- Endurance training (aerobic and anaerobic)
- Mobility work
Sure, you can make the cake more fancy by adding in other stuff and/or by varying the proportions of the different ingredients, but you ain’t going no where without the basic “necessary” ingredients.
Bottom line – Get your basics right. Include full body strength training, endurance training and mobility drills in your workouts.
But what about abs you ask… read this awesome post by Arvind to know everything about abs I say!
Low quality ingredients = Crappy product
Pretty simple logic really. It doesn’t matter how cutting edge everything else is, but if your ingredients are crap, your product will be sub par. So quality of ingredients is paramount!
You know how, more often than not, good quality ingredients cost more? Similarly, a good exercise uses as many muscles as possible, forces you to move in as many planes as possible and hence is metabolically more demanding than other low quality exercises. For strength training, this means squats instead of leg press, pushups or dumbbell presses instead of pec dec and pullups or inverted rows instead of lat pulldowns. And for endurance training? Same deal! Stop watching TV and get off the damn elliptical machine. Go out and run a 10k or do some 800 m repeats instead. You dig?
Bottom line – When choosing an exercise, choose the best there is!
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Decide which days you want to workout, where and what time. Put it on your calender like you will when you schedule a meeting. As a bonus, find a friend/colleague/stranger who plans on working out around the same time and has similar goals.
Bottom line – Plan your workouts!
Get in. Do your thing. Get out.
If you did all the previous steps right, you should find yourself in the gym/training area by now. Sure I can write a 5000 word blog post talking about training but let’s save that for another day. For now I’ll just say – at this point it is just a matter of actually doing the workout! Simple… not easy… but simple.
Bottom line – Look away from the TV. Throw out your cellphone. Stay in the moment. Focus. Give it your best effort. Nothing more nothing less.
Meat or muscle… you’ve got to let it rest if you want the best!
If you have been eating right and training consistently and smart, but you’re not still not seeing results, there is only one missing piece to this puzzle – Recovery. Any kind of exercise induced adaptation happens away from the gym. Be it muscle growth or neuromuscular coordination or endurance, rest and recovery determine how well your body responds to the stimulus it has been provided.
Bottom line – Chill out on rest days. Let your body do it’s thing!
Like everything else, fitness too has a recipe. Do the right things in the right order at the right time and you will get the results you desire.