In my initial discussion on performance based training, I covered the basics of proper goal setting and followed that up with some tips and principles on programming. It is important to understand that results can only come when we are balanced in our view of our own needs both physically and emotionally. Feelings count and if we are feeling negatively about ourselves and our prospects for accomplishing our goals, the results will be reflective of that perspective.
Our future health and wellness prospects rest in our own hands and no amount of outside help will change that – whether it be a diet program for weight loss or exercise program set in motion with the best of input from an outside source. During my time as a personal trainer, I always wanted my clients to arrive at a realistic understanding of their individual situation – both in the present and in the future. I covered the programming from the viewpoint of what I saw and understood from my evaluation of their specific needs. This was based both on my own observations and the responses from the client to my questions during the evaluation process.
In this article I would like to offer some additional tips on performance based training as well some information that may help you understand the REAL point of training. This information will guide you into your future on a well thought out path that will create ongoing success and minimize setbacks. My hope is that with this foundational information you can make informed decisions about what you would like to see happen in your own life as you commit to being “the best that you can be”.
CREATING LEAN MUSCLE MASS
The point of exercise is to create a body that becomes flexible and adaptable – becoming a “calorie burning unit” and NOT a “fat storage unit”. The combination of increased lean muscle mass and a cardiovascular system that is efficient and effective is a powerful team. I am unable to say there are guarantees in fitness programming but doing these two things is as close to one as I can offer you.
The process of creating lean muscle mass is one of “stressing the neuromuscular system” in such a way that it grows in mass thereby creating more power and strength throughout every joint of the body. This can be done through body weight exercises such as push ups, chin ups, lunges, or other forms of movement based exercises with no external weight to counteract the movement. Utilizing weight assisted movements such as machines designed for this purpose – or free weights which is a classic form of creating lean mass – are excellent as well. How you decide what path to take depends on what you can afford in terms of finances and time. Either way increasing lean muscle mass is essential to increasing your resting metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) – and overall power and strength.
I use a combination of free weights and machines as well body weight exercises for this purpose. I train twice a week for over an hour in order to increase – and maintain – both power and strength. Balance is paramount to me so I spend time creating it in my programming. I do 17 basic exercises for each main “muscle group” on my body and use a multiple set plan in order to fatigue each muscle group. The growth of muscle tissue occurs during the recovery and repair periods between sessions. Downtime from training is when the body changes – and develops. Over time you will see results because the body responds to the “demands” placed upon it. Without these demands the muscles whither – or atrophy – leaving the joints vulnerable to damage and injury going forward. “Getting old” is a result of this neglect.
The body burns calories to repair and serve the needs of the body. The food we eat provides the energy for this process to occur. The more we eat the more the body has to decide what to do with the calories consumed – store them for the future or burn them to keep the body alive. Calories are stored in the form of fat in our fat cells for future use or a smaller quantity (sugar actually) in the muscle tissue itself. Fat doesn’t get burned because the body uses sugar as its primary form of energy. It is converted when required. The cells release fat in order to support physical activity and the more we demand the more the system responds to the specific demands.
The fat cells become quite efficient at inviting more calories in and less efficient at releasing it as we become more sedentary. Think of the cell as having a “swinging door” which becomes efficient at “opening” on a regular basis while we sit to receive more while at he same time becoming less efficient at releasing fat when we need it to “fuel our training”.
Fat cells can grow in size (like a balloon). They become more adept at accepting calories overtime yielding skin that looks smooth and loose. People with added weight show less “definition” because of this phenomenon. When we add weight and more fat cells we cut down on our ability to sustain exercise over time as a result. Endurance suffers as well as our ability to increase rates of movement (intensity). This results in fewer calories being needed for the activity leaving us tired and frustrated with ourselves.
The bottom line is: “Eat like a king in the morning, a prince in the afternoon, and a pauper at night” so that you can use the calories you consume each day and finally get to the stored energy you REALLY want to use. You WILL burn the additional stored calories to help facilitate weight loss resulting in a REAL increase in self esteem.
No amount of training alone will solve the obesity crisis or the weight issues we face as nation, but it CAN – and WILL – facilitate a positive HEALTH and FITNESS result as the partner it CAN be in this process. The truth about calorie burning is this: IT TAKES WORK and a COMMITMENT to do what each of us knows we must do – MOVE and LIVE or SIT and DIE. (NOT: Fat tissue burns fewer calories per pound than lean muscle mass by quite a substantial margin. Remember this point in reviewing your diet and fitness needs).
Consider your PRIORITIES and set your GOALS accordingly. Example: My first priority is to maintain a STRONG HEART. Running and cycling five times a week provide this result for me. My second priority is to maintain (and develop) lean MUSCLE MASS. My resistance training program conducted twice a week provides this result for me. My third priority is to enhance my BALANCE and FLEXIBILITY. My stretching program helps me accomplish this task.
Don’t WASTE TIME. People always find ways to waste time and it REALLY can set you back. LACK OF TIME is often cited as a primary reason people cannot engage in a fitness training program. There are 24 hours in a day for each of us and yet those that care FIND THE TIME to train. Now I see wasted time in my facility every day especially with phones in everyone’s hands. They stare and sit in the gym! Don’t do it! LET IT GO for your future health!
SCHEDULE your training time and stick to your schedule. Make your health and fitness goals your TOP priority and don’t let them slip from your sight! My recommendation is to address your physical, spiritual (beliefs) and emotional (stress etc.) needs everyday. DO NOT let the challenges and failures of your day overwhelm you – and STAY with you. Find release in your training program because it can save you from a heart attack or stroke or some other unknown disaster that MAY be in your future.
Finally, learn to FORGIVE yourself and give yourself a break. No one is perfect and no one is guaranteed anything in this life except the opportunity to make new choices. The choice to train is a BIG one but it is the closest thing you will get to a guarantee. I have been (major) injury free and (major) disease free for over the past 71 years of my life so I KNOW that this is DEFINITELY possible.
Obviously I have experienced setbacks and pain in my life but I did NOT let them DEFINE me. I have “risen from the ashes” more times than I can count but I am still here and it is because I committed myself long ago to learning about myself through my mental, physical, and spiritual training. You can too. This promise to yourself WILL save your life somewhere in your future because eventually we ALL face our mortality and then you – or I -will leave with no regrets!