Sensible Training

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I think a day does not go by without someone asking me a question on training or another telling me why there training regimen is the best. And, if I really want to make things worse, I just have to step out of my office and peer around the corner into the weight room and watch as people hoist and throw weights around as they follow some program that they got out of some bible of a fitness magazine. I might get lucky and see one or two guys moving things in a controlled fashion, maybe someone I worked with, but those days are rare. I better not stop and give advice to anyone, because usually the trainee‘s ego gets in the way of any constructive conversation, and what do I really know…They have been working out for years, on the same split routine, so it must work.

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Funny thing is that when my computer breaks, I call the computer people. Now I have a bit of knowledge on how to fix electronic things, and have dabbled with computers, but most likely I would screw things up, so I defer to the experts. But when it comes to exercise and training it seems that everyone is an expert. And experts in this realm are formed not by their knowledge base or understanding of the human body, but instead they are experts because of the size of their arms and chest. And if they really look good, they might get hired at a health club, get certified online, call themselves a personal trainer (a more glorified expert), and make loads of money training and instructing. It‘s a cycle, and it happens everyday and has become the backbone of the health club industry..

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Does having a large chest, big arms or broad shoulders make you knowledgeable about training? Or could it just be good genetics, which is 90 percent of the game anyway. Arthur Jones once said ― ”If you wish to learn to train a racehorse, don‘t ask the racehorse how to train.” Yet go to any gym today and watch guys flock to the big guy in the corner. The thought process is that he must know what he‘s doing because he looks that way. Questions are asked, and the next thing you know guys start following what the big guy does hoping for similar results. Over and over, again and again. If I train like him, I can one day look like him.

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It never ceases to amaze that some of the most educated people that I have ever met cannot understand basic bio-mechanics and physiology or have some general common sense when it comes to training and general exercise. Even professionals with degrees cannot comprehend basic ideas, processes, and theories. For some they believe that if it’s not written by the great governing bodies (ACSM and NSCA), that it cannot be right or work because they would have thought of it. Or where is the research study to back it up?. Do researchers even understand what high intensity is? So what do most trainers and educators do - prescribe more exercise, because more is always better.

People who are educated about training, physiology and such know that when it comes to training and getting stronger -- ultimately everything WORKS. But there are guidelines to follow that may help one achieve their goals and maximize results:

First, less is always more when it comes to training. Forget the marathon training sessions, the endless sets and repetitions. All they lead to is repetitive stress injuries and eventually over-training. Keep those workouts session brief and engaging. Don‘t stop and watch TV in between exercises or read a magazine. Train with a purpose. Get in the gym and get out.

Second, be critical with form or style. When in doubt move those weights slower not faster. Slower is harder, safer and more productive. Take a look around your club. Watch the sloppy form and explosive heaving that occurs. Remember strength is built over time, not demonstrated for show.

Third, keep it simple. Forget trying to concoct crazy workout schemes and plans.. Stick to the basics.. Break the body up into different planes horizontal and vertical and pick basic movements for each plane. Also focus more on compound movements, as they provide more bang for your buck. Train controlled with your repetitions and train with maximum intensity.

Finally, be progressive over time and work as hard as you possibly can on each exercise each workout. As time goes by decrease the volume of exercise some, do not add more.

Sounds simple and sensible and it is if you follow it. But what do I know, I do not look like Joe bodybuilder, or Hulk for that matter ... just an average fit guy, so I must not know anything worthwhile. Maybe I could make a better career fixing computers or something.

TAKU’s NOTE: For more awesome information about training, Check out this weeks podcast episode #24 featuring Sunir Jossan. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area stop by the Personal Edge, and find out what sensible hard training is really all about.