From my years of both working out in and being employed by a number of different fitness facilities, more often than not, I eventually have a certain, ‘dilemma’, brought to my attention by the concerns of another individual working out there. In fact, looking back on it now, this has happened in EVERY fitness facility I have ever been in association with, and I am positive I am not the only one who has experienced this scenario. An individual will claim that they workout anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours a day (or more!), for 4-6 times a week (whether it be through the classes a facility offers, a cookie-cutter program they snagged offline, their own Frankenstein creation, and/or a combination of all the aforementioned) and follow a diet program (loosely or strictly), with the occasional slip up here and there. Based off of the information they provided, you cannot figure out for the life of you as to why they are falling short of their mark… So, the investigative work begins!
As the proceeding days come and go, you continue to go workout, keeping tabs on the individual in the back of your head. Then, in no time (so much for investigative work), it hits you, and everything makes perfect sense. While the individual is doing everything they claimed to be doing, they are doing it with half a heart; dogging through it, if you will. Nobody ever enjoys receiving that kind of news, but it is the cold hard truth, and not informing them of this (given they sought your help prior) is only further doing them an injustice. Now, I am not saying go out guns-a-blaze to the extent where the individual feels as if all their previous work is scattered like dust in the wind, but a little constructive criticism can go a long way, ultimately benefiting the individual it is intended for. After all, their previous work most likely had a positive change on their overall health, and while they may be short of where they had hoped to be, they are closer than when they initially started. So, it was not all for nothing!
Despite this, however, not only are they falling short of their goal, but they are also spending an absolutely unnecessary amount of time working out in comparison to the amount that is actually required in order to reach their mark. Now, I know the popular saying goes, “work smarter, not harder”, but this is one of those interesting exceptions where the concept of working smarter also involves some good old-fashion hard work. In fact, a good portion of the aspect of working smarter, in this case, is actually by working harder under a shorter period of time. Off the top of my head, the only exception I can see belonging to that claim is in reference to athletes/individuals adhering to a strict strength/powerlifting regime. Under a strength/powerlifting method of training, participants PURPOSELY spread their sets apart by anywhere from 3-5 minutes apiece. By doing so, the individual can recuperate/ start off fresh for the next set as the weight of the workload continues to increase.
If your goal is not solely strength increase, then chances are you are probably wondering why I am claiming that it is smart to work harder under a shorter period of time, am I right? Well, the increased work accomplished under a shorter period of time allows for a greater cardiovascular capability potential. In correlation with, and in addition to that, greater muscle hypertrophy also has the potential to occur. This is made possible by the increased flow and volume of blood being forced into the muscle. As the muscle takes on this blood, it compensates for space by expanding outward, ultimately stretching the fascia (skin). When the blood returns back to a normal flow and the muscle returns to its prior size, the skin is now ever-slightly expanded, leaving room for the muscle to grow. Muscle growth will not just magically occur though unless you are properly feeding your body and obtaining adequate amounts of sleep.
Increased cardiovascular potential and muscle growth are not the only benefits to expect to occur as a result of increasing your work under a shorter period of time. Aspike in your metabolic activity is also something to expect, which will result in weight loss as a higher caloric burn is now occurring at a consistent rate. In addition to all the aforementioned, by getting in for a shorter period of time, absolutely giving it everything you have got while you are there, and getting out, as opposed to dogging it for double the time, you begin to create a lot more free time for yourself. With all that we have got going on in today’s day and age, who does not enjoy the possibility of having more free time?! I could go on for pages and pages about the benefits of, for example, giving it 100% for 45 minutes in comparison to 70% for 90 minutes, but quite honestly, there really is no need to. If the aforementioned are not enough of persuasion to kick poor/mediocre workout performance to the curb, then I am not certain anything will. Until next time, from all of us here at MA Fitness, give it 100%, and always remember to fight for your fitness!