6 Things That I Have Changed My Mind About (Part I)

During my entire life, I thought that I was ALWAYS right.  It was really only my parents that were able to prove me otherwise.  They would give me advice on matters that I would never take; thinking that they were wrong, and of course, I was right.  Then a couple weeks down the line… I would realize they were correct.  The same has happened throughout the last five years since I have been a trainer.  I had formed my own philosophies about training, and thought I knew it all.  That I never made a mistake, until I learned better and realized, I have been wrong, and most likely will be wrong again some where, some time… but probably not anytime soon…

Here are six things that I have changed my mind about:

1.  What I have once thought: 

When exercising, the more the better.

With all of the availability of information on exercise, and all the different modalities, there are way too many options to choose from.  There is aerobic training, strength training, corrective training and sports.  Well, it seems to be that all of these options are important.  So lets do some of it all.  And that is a great idea.  Except, how much of everything is the appropriate amount.  When I first started exercising, I did it all.  I worked out six days a week.  My goal was to get big and strong.  And not only was I working out six days per week, I was also playing football and baseball for minimum two times per week.

So what is wrong with all this? I did gain results after all.  I gained 30 lbs in a year.  I got much stronger, so why not continue to do all that stuff.  Well for starters I was 17-18 years old.  I was sleeping 10 hours a night, and I was eating food like I was in a hot dog eating competition.   It was all fun and games, until I began to gather more responsibilities.  I got a real job, harder class work and all the added stress that comes with it.  One, I didn’t have the time I once did to exercise six times per week plus some two-a-days.  Two, as my sleep decreased my fatigue got worse and worse.  I tried to keep up exercising like I was when I was 17, but it would just lead to incredible amounts of fatigue and my many injuries.

What I think now:

Not many people have time to exercise six days per week.  So keep it between two and four times a week.  You can get a lot of work accomplished in that time.  Mobility work, stretching, foam rolling, strength work, conditioning work.  You just need to learn how to break it up.  Figure out what you want your main priority to be for a months time period and spend more time on that, and less on the rest.  When a beginner spend a lot more time on mobility and stability of the muscles and joints.  This will help you gain the necessary mobility and stability needed to have perfect form during each and every exercise.  Also, once you have great mobility, stability and technique, you will be able to get better results faster.  Sometimes it is always good to take baby steps early on.

Time will pass no matter what, if you consistently train year after year, the years will add up.  Take the time to do it right early, and you will have great success later on.  As for those with a little more experience, start doing a little less if your workouts are longer then an hour.  If you have pain, find out why and learn how to use corrective exercising in order to decrease pain.  If you are pain free, learn how to integrate stability, mobility, corrective exercise cardio and strength training into one.

I set up a 12-month outline of my exercise programs for myself.  I outline what months I am training hypertrophy, strength, power etc. An example would be for a strength phase:  I set up my workouts either three days or four days per week, with a main focus on strength, meaning my reps would be in the one to five range.  If I have power exercises, they would be at a low percentage of my 1 RM max, in order to not fatigue me.  I will do most of my foam rolling and corrective work on off days, and play sports and bike ride if I do so, on the weekends, which I are almost always off days from exercise. Just always remember to keep it simple, and keep your workouts to roughly an hour.  This will be the recipe for better results in the gym, while not over-taxing the body.

2.  What I have once thought: 

To get strong, you must lift really heavy, all the time.

As I first started to work out and even many of the following years after that, I was constantly taught by everyone around me that in order to get strong, you must lift really heavy, all the time.  There is no time for deload periods, a week of rest or using a percentage of your 1RM to moderate intensity.  It is pick the heaviest weight you can lift for X amount of reps and complete it, and if you can’t, have a spotter help you.  During my first year of training, it worked wonders for me.  But, in all honestly anything will.  A first year exerciser has the ability to make gains in the gym unlike anyone else.  They can have up to 30% gains in strength, and lose or gain weight like it was their job.  But as the experience level starts to rise, this technique brings your gains to a halt.  Frustration sets, as every week there are no longer PR’s, but decreases in the amount of weight you can lift.

What I Think Now:

Rest is the most important part of getting strong, or getting any results… period.  If you are not getting adequate sleep, your body’s hormones will never be normal.  As we sleep, our body is healing.  Hormone levels are returning to normal, injuries are being healed, and the stresses on our nervous system and body are being relieved.  If we deprive our bodies of the 6-8 hours of sleep per night, your body will not be able to do its job, and the stress the body takes through out the day will continue to build up.

Also rest during your exercise phase is important.  For me I lift mostly for strength.  During my workout phase, I will have a high, medium, very high and deload week. This allows me to lift heavy (90% 1 RM) during my first week.  The following week is of a medium load, which allows to me lift moderately heavy (80 – 85 % 1RM).  This allows my nervous system some rest, but still giving me adequate load for my body to have positive responses to training.  Now I can do my really heavy day (95% 1RM).  When doing strength training there is a ton of neurological stress on the body.  The more stress you place on it without giving it a day off, the more it builds up, and can have negative effects on the body.  As the nervous system gets more and more fatigued, so do you, your performance decreases, and you will not get stronger, but may even get weaker.  This is the full purpose of a deload week.   This allows you to still get a good workout in, but not lift heavy at all (50-60 % 1RM).  This helps the nervous system get more rest, and allows the body to be as fresh as can be for every workout.  It may seem weird to a lot of people not to lift heavy every time they go in there, but through trial and error, I am finding this way to be superior to other modalities.  If you don’t believe me, try it, or just check my training log, as I will be periodically testing, and posting my results.

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