Hello all. I have been questioning when I should post about working out because it can be such a controversial topic. I will be the first to admit that I have so much to learn when it comes to the body and how different workouts effect it. I think the most important thing to know is that everyone is different. There is no blanket program that will be best for everyone. Even day to day or year to year what is best for an individual can change. Injuries, biomechanics, past workout experience, etc all play a role in what is best for an individual.
I have spent the past 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Texas Tech University. I have had the pleasure of working with Olympians, professional athletes, and many other of the top athletes in the country. Between my time as a Graduate Assistant and full-time, I was able to work with almost every single team at Tech. What I noticed during my time there was that the foundation for each sport was similar, but there were differences in how each sport was trained to help them achieve the most success they could on the field or court. I also worked with clients that were not athletes, from 60 year olds to women who recently beat cancer to 8 year olds learning how to control their bodies for the first time. I noticed that even these clients had the same basic needs as the athletes, just adjusting to their ability and individual goals and needs.
So, what do I believe are the most important aspects of working out? What is it that I believe every person (with exceptions) need?
- Everyone needs to be able to move their bodies in the way it was meant to be moved. Can you sit in a squatted position for multiple minutes? Can you hold things above your head? Can you rotate your shoulders so your upper back twists? Can you lunge? Humans were meant to move. For thousands of years, manual labor, walking, and standing were a major part of our lives. Sitting at desks all day is destroying our bodies ability to move. Kelly Starrett, the main man in “MobilityWod,” has many great articles and videos discussing this if you’d like to check out more. Did you know that studies have shown that elementary students who use standing desks have lower obesity rates than student who sit during class. And that is with kids who run around and play much more with adults! Imagine what it can do for an adult.
- Strength. I know this seems broad, but that is on purpose. I believe having a base of strength is important for any individual, but how much strength is relative. A football lineman or a strength competitor could argue that they can never be “too strong.” A 60 year old may not need or want to squat 400lbs, but they need to be able to get out of a chair by themselves, put groceries on the top shelf, and carry their dog’s food. A soccer player is more concerned about using strength to achieve maximum speed as opposed to lifting big weight. All strength is relative, but it is important for all. Once someone achieves a foundation of strength, your body can begin to do amazing things. How explosive or powerful you are is going to have a direct relationship with how much strength your body has and can produce. I like to think of strength in a pound per pound rato-it is often referred to as the strength index. This is how strong are you per your body weight. It is cool to talk about absolute strength, but comparing a 250lbs guy and a 185lbs guy is not really fair. Work on getting your strength to a level that you can perform tasks you want and need to do.
- “Cardio”. I put this in quotes because I’m not talking about going out for a jog. I’m talking about making your heart work more efficiently. Personally, I HATE running. I always have but I still do it because I know it is important. I break this heart-help into two sections:
- Keeping your heart rate up for long periods of time. I like to do low intensity circuits that include picking 3-5 exercises and performing them for 5-10 minutes each, keeping my heart rate about 140-160 BPM. You can do the classic conversational jog, slow swim, hike, even life moderate weight movements continuously, anything to keep your heart rate at a moderate rate for 20+ minutes.
- Having you heart rate spike and come back down. SPRINT! The benefits of sprinting are unbelievable. There is truly no substitute. I do not want to go into the super science, but if you’d like to dive into that, there are plenty of articles you can read online. The basic things for you to know are that sprinting forces all of your muscles to activate and work at their peak-power, spikes your nervous system, and burns fat. I love sprinting with sleds as well. If you are someone who can’t sprint then find other ways to work your body at maximum force then see how fast it can recover.
The biggest advice I can give is to take control of your health and be consistent. Look out for more workout posts of my new garage gym!