Change Your Mind – 6
Training or Working Out?
Is there a difference between training and working out? Is one better for you than the other? In my opinion there is a subtle, but very important difference. I find that “training” is much easier than “working out” because there is a point to it. I have a better chance of maintaining consistency, pushing myself a little harder and have a more positive attitude about my training sessions when I am training for a specific purpose and mentally involved in what I am doing during my session.
If you are working out, you will get sweaty, breath heavily; probably even get sore from your work out. These are all good things when you are trying to reach a specific fitness goal. However, if you are just seeing your session as a work out and nothing more, eventually you are going to reach a point where you aren’t as motivated. You may slack off a bit more, sort of go through the motions during your work out. This still might be enough to get you sweaty and breathing heavy, but unfortunately your body has probably already adapted to your new level of fitness. What this means is just when your body has reached a heightened fitness level and needs you to push a little harder to invoke a training response, you have mentally checked out and are doing just enough to maintain this new fitness level. Please keep in mind; this is different than just being a bit tired one day. This is not a conscious choice to take it easy. Like I said, you probably still feel like you are sweating and breathing heavy, but unfortunately you are no longer getting the maximum effect of each session. I believe this stems from not being in the moment with what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it feels and how all of that compares to last time you did it.
To avoid reaching this point, you MUST be mentally engaged in your session. It does not take much change to elicit a training effect on the body. How will you know if you are making improvements, if you are thinking about your weekend plans, next work deadline, or anything else? Let me give you an example.
Imagine you made it a goal to do 60 seconds of Body Weight Squats every morning for a month. You don’t count how many you do in the 60 seconds, or think about your form because your mind is busy going through the days schedule. The first time you do it, it is tough, you get sweaty and out of breath. The next time, still challenging, still sweaty and out of breath. You continue doing this for a month and 60 seconds of Body Weight Squats don’t feel as hard as you remember when you started, but you are still getting sweaty and out of breath so it must still be working. Little do you know, the first couple times you did this 60 second squat challenge you were super motivated and you did 50 squats in 60 seconds. As the days went on, you still did the 60 seconds because you promised yourself you would, but it was sort of tedious and boring so you didn’t put as much effort in. By the 2nd week you were only doing 40 squats and weren’t going as low. You were still using your muscles, which creates heat so you sweat, and they need oxygen so you heart rate increases and you breathe heavily. It felt like you were doing something because of those feelings, but really you were doing less than when you started. Finally the month is over, you are so bored of doing squats you decide to do something else, and the cycle starts again.
Imagine the same challenge, but you pay attention to what you are doing, how it feels, how it compares to previous attempts, and you have a written reminder of why you want to do this which you read every morning. You count out that you did 50 squats in 60 seconds the first time and write it down. The next day you try for 51, then 52 so on and so forth. By week 2 you are getting 60 every time but can’t seem to get any more than that. You realize that you could probably get a little deeper so you decided you’re going to do touch your butt to your child’s toy bin every time or it doesn’t count. Whoa you only got 40 reps, but it felt a lot more difficult and you are so sore the next day you almost don’t do the 60 seconds of squats that morning… almost. By week 3 you’re touching the toy box every time and your back up over 50 reps, but you realize you have been rounding your back, and using a lot of momentum from your arms. So to improve your form you try to touch the box with your butt, while holding your hands on the back of your head and squeezing your shoulder blades tight. GRRR only got 35 reps that way, but again it felt much more difficult. The next day your quads and glutes are screaming again and now your upper back as joined them. You begin to notice that you can do more reps before your legs start to burn and fatigue. You also realize that in order to keep your spine in the correct position without your low back acting up you have learned to squeeze your abdomen squeeze tight. You find yourself standing up straighter throughout the day and practicing your form whenever you have to pick something up of the ground. The month is over, but you realize you could keep getting better and could probably start holding weight. Your initial goal has been met, but you realized you are capable of more, so you adjust the goal accordingly. You grab your weight and the cycle starts again.
By being present in those 60 seconds, you not only build a strong mind muscle connection, improved your form, increased your strength and endurance, but you didn’t have time to get bored. With your mind focused on all the little details of getting better you didn’t have a chance to realize that you have just been doing a bunch of squats. Every day of squats felt a little different as you were able to feel which muscles were working, sit lower and control your body more. You also continued to see improvement in the way you were performing and feeling because you wrote it down every day. You could look at the previous entries and set a daily goal for yourself on how you were going to do better during this 60 seconds than you did in yesterdays 60 seconds. This is training! This is how you will continuously improve, because you will realize you are reaching those plateaus and be able to figure out what adjustments need to be made in order to *“keep the body guessing”! If you put your mind into what you are doing and really focus on getting the most out of every rep, set and session your “work out” won’t become stagnant because your “training session” will be constantly evolving along with you!
The phrase * “keep the body guessing” is wildly misused today much like most other fitness fads. This is based on the idea that you should not do the exact same thing every day forever because your body will get used to it and therefore no longer have to make adaptations to overcome new challenges, ie – build muscle, burn fat, increase range of motion etc. Unfortunately people who do not know any better have taken this to mean you should never do the same work out twice. This is incorrect, especially for people with a young training age (how many years you have been training). How can you get better at an exercise if you only do it one time? You have to practice exercise just like you have to practice anything to improve at it. The real meaning behind “keep the body guessing” is that you have to somehow change the exercise or training session. Based on my example above, person number 2 made the following changes to their 60 seconds of squats to make sure they “kept the body guessing” and maintained a training effect.
Added reps (50 the first time, 51 the next, 52 ect.)
Added Range of Motion (squatted all the way down to the toy box), then again added reps
Changed the center of gravity and activated more muscles by holding the hands in a high position (behind head) and activating the muscles throughout their posterior chain (back), then again added reps.
When we left this person was also just about to add weight to the squat.
More ways to make adjustments and “keep the body guessing” for this particular squat challenge would be as follows.
Hold the weight low (by hips) – hold weight med. (by chest/ shoulders)- hold weight High (over head)
Hold weight offset (on one side of the body, instead of in the middle) at any of those positions.
Increase the weight
Change type of weight you are holding (Barbell, dumbbell, kettle bell, milk jug, baby, you get the point)
Change the tempo (slow on the way down, fast on the way up)
(add a pause at the bottom)
(add a pulse or half rep in between each full rep)
Change the surface your feet are on (go barefoot, go on soft ground, unstable surface)
Add time to the 60 seconds
Do two rounds of 60 seconds
Add a hop at the top
Change stance (foot position)
Change the amount of time you are resting
By my count that is 14 individual ways you can change your 60 second daily squats to make sure you continue to “keep the body guessing”, start combining all those different options and the possibilities are limitless. This is just sticking with basic squats! Imagine what you could do with a whole session of exercises! So if you are hitting a plateau or you are feeling bored with your fitness routine, ask yourself if you have been truly focused on getting the most out of every rep. Make the slight changes to continue progressing and making the body adapt to the new challenge!
Have high quality TRAINING sessions!