Whether you are starting or trying to problem solve a fitness program, you can encounter similar challenges. Identifying where to spend your time and energy is critical. We all have limits on the amount of time and energy we can devote to our fitness programs, so how do we get the results we want without feeling frustrated or overwhelmed? Check out these tips to getting more out of your workouts and avoiding the plateaus that plague so many people.
Focus on Function Instead of Muscles
In over 20 years being a fitness professional, I can’t tell you how many people get stalled in their workouts because they simply focus on the wrong things. Most notably, the selection of less efficient exercises to get them to where they want to be with their fitness. While most of us are introduced to fitness via the world of bodybuilding, this is the most inefficient way to train for most people.
Sure, if you are planning to hit the gym six days a week consistently and spend 2-3 hours you might benefit from such programs, but more than likely that isn’t what you are looking from your workout program. That’s why the idea of “functional training” has gained a lot of steam over the last decade.
What is functional training?
What is functional training? Typically these are movements that are natural to our body in how we move in daily life. We could be talking about squats, pushing, pulling, lunging, and hip hinge movements. In other words, exercises that use A LOT of muscles at once!
I usually give this analogy: trying to isolate muscles is trying to get rich saving $1 a day versus winning the lottery. Yes, both could get you wealthy but saving $1 a day is going to take you a VERY long time. Not to mention training the body as it is designed to move allows us to help a lot of the chronic aches that also stop every well meaning fitness program in its tracks!
You still want to feel the “pump” in your arms though? Adding an isolation exercise at the end of your workout is fine, but they shouldn’t dominate your routine. Can you pick up a pencil from the ground with just one muscle? No, and your training shouldn’t be filled with isolation exercises either!
Moving Fast Isn’t Always Better
We now live in a world where high intensity training (HIT) reigns supreme. While I agree with many of the concepts of HIIT, most people feel like this means always having to move really fast and jump all around the gym. There are many times where moving slower actually raises our intensity just as well – if not better – than moving really fast.
As we get tired, very few of us want to move slower; most want to move faster. Slowing down how we lower ourselves and adding pauses to exercises like squats, push-ups, rows, and many more can not only raise the intensity of your workout but give you important insights in your technique.
Want to make your workouts feel brand new? Simply slow down some of your base exercises and focus upon executing perfect form and moving from the RIGHT places in your body!
A Great Gym Can Be Anywhere
The idea that we can’t get really fit because we have to run to the gym is a thing of the past. The popularity of tools like kettlebells, ropes, TRX, and our Ultimate Sandbags have allowed people to get in great shape any place, any time. In fact, these tools give not just more effective workouts, but tons of versatility to your training where a few pieces can take you a long ways. They are so effective that even commercial gyms are now making them mainstays of their own arsenal.
The beauty of these tools is they allow you train the whole body as one unit (our functional concept) and allow easy access to power, strength, and stability based exercises. Learning how to properly perform a number of exercises on each piece of equipment will make you fall in love with old exercises in new ways again and discover movements you never even imagined.
Say that it takes too much time, it’s too complicated, and too hard to get to the gym aren’t ideas that should stop you from achieving your fitness goals when you understand the real goal of our modern workout programs.
Josh Henkin, CSCS holds a degree in Exercise Science and is the creator of the DVRT system and Ultimate Sandbag. His innovative training ideas have made him highly sought out in the fitness, rehab, and performance industry. He has published over 100 articles on real world fitness programs and taught in over 13 countries worldwide. Find out more about Coach Henkin and the way DVRT is transforming fitness at DVRTFitness.com