The simple "secrets" of fitness professionals that you can use too.

 
 40 lb kettlebell, Slingshot band and (2) 10 lb dumbbells. Brought me to my knees.

40 lb kettlebell, Slingshot band and (2) 10 lb dumbbells. Brought me to my knees.

 

First of all, did you know there's a difference between exercising and working out? 

Yes, there's a difference.

Exercising is movement (walking, nice hike, biking...) and a workout is meant to achieve some other goal like building muscle, swimming faster, biking farther or just metabolic conditioning.

So if you workout for a goal, don't do it blindly. Learn these basic principles to make some gains in whatever area you are trying to improve.

Basic principles of training.
 

I'm  47 but I want to brag for a second.  I feel more stronger, muscular and way more in shape than I did in my 20's and 30's. Why? Because I changed my diet to support my goals AND I learned basic foundational principles of working out. The ones that the pros have been using for years.

Have you ever noticed people at the gym who work out for hours or hit the streets on their new spendy street bike or (fill in the blank) but never seem to change their shape? They always show up (which is awesome) but seem to never improve.  As much as I like working out, I do want to see some return on my investment.
 

Here are some basic principles the professionals live by:
 

#1 Everyone is different.

You may train exactly the same way your friend does, but due to genetics, diet and lifestyle, the outcome can be dramatically different. For example, did you ever hear about someone who lost a ton of weight while doing Zumba and eating a keto diet? Don't be surprised (or frustrated) if this isn't your jam. Not everyone can train in the same manner so don't try to keep up appearances. Work on your weakness and do what you love.  Arnold had weak calves and had to train way harder than his peers to get massive calves. He wanted it. He worked on it. And it gave him the best calves in the business.
 

#2 To improve, you must overcompensate and/or overload your body. 

If you do the same-o same-o workout every time with the same reps and weights, you will be stuck at whatever conditioning level you are at. Your body adapts to the stress it receives. If it's not pushed, it doesn't improve. You need to add some stress to your body in order for the overcompensation principle to occur.  This applies to all workouts.

For example, let's say you use 12# weights instead of your usual 10#, your body will feel the additional stress and then needs time to recover. This recovery time (just a day or two) leads to something called "super compensation", which basically means your body just gets a little stronger.

Another way to accomplish this is to change your range of motion.  For example: the squat. Instead of squatting down to knee level, try going deeeep. It hits different muscles groups (just picture doing this deep squat in your head vs halfway down squat).  Yep. It works.

And the same principle of overcompensation applies to running, yoga, martial arts, rock climbing....you get the idea. 
 

Some ideas on how to mix it up: heavier weight, more reps, rep speed
(slow and controlled or fast and powerful), range of motion
and shortened rest periods.
 

 #3 Mix it up! 

If for no other reason than to curb boredom, mix up your workouts. If you run, try running in a different area, up hills or in the sand. If you are a gym rat, take your workout outside or try a yoga class. Your body loves variety and by adding in some "new moves", you actually target muscles that haven't been used a lot. And you'll know because you'll be sore in new areas the next day.
 

Do you know the basic rep ranges to muscular goals?
 

Strength/Power - 3-7 Reps
Muscular Hypertrophy (grow them muscles) - 7-12 reps
Anaerobic Strength Endurance (i.e. sprinting) - 12-20 reps
Aerobic Strength Endurance (long-term movement) - 20+ reps 

*the lower the reps, the higher the weight AND longer the rest period between sets*

Mix these up to target them all. That's what the pro's do. It's calling "cycling".


This brings me to this picture.

 I want to barf. But damn it was a good workout.

I want to barf. But damn it was a good workout.


 

I am a huge fan of Ashley Horner, Jessie Hilgenberg, Bret Contreas and Alexia Clark. For my gym fans, follow these guys and you'll never be bored in the gym. Alexia Clark posted a home workout the other day that looked so damn easy...or at least I thought. It reminded me of the above principles and sure made me sore as f*ck the next day or two. So here you go:

100 reps each. Try to get as many reps in before the lactic acid builds up (the is a by product of energy production in your muscles):

100 banded monster walks  - I love the Sling Shot bands. Very heavy duty. Take a band, wrap it around your thighs and walk like Godzilla.
100 Deadlifts
100 walking lunges
100 squats
100 overhead presses
100 lateral raises
100 overhand rows
100 banded glute bridges (don't let your butt touch the ground and squeeze at the top)


This workout can bring anyone to their knees
 

Why? Because you can choose a higher weight, slower/faster movements and even pause at the height of the movement where your muslces are stressed to the max (i.e. the top of the lateral raise). I used fairly light weights but it took me about an hour to complete. And I was spent!

I re-fueled with 20 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs (protein drink plus a banana). And I made sure I had some carbs, protein and fats in my belly pre-workout to fuel me through.

And don't forget to hydrate before and during your workout. I can go on about the cellular importance in regards to fitness (among other things), but Ill save it for another article.  Just drink lots of water with maybe a pinch of salt. Not gatorade. That shit is expensive, unhealthy and gross.
 

Have fun and please share this article if you liked it!