One of the craziest things about the fitness industry these days is how everything is geared to make exercise easier, instead of helping you to get in shape.
A while back I took a looksy in this new mega fitness club that had just opened, and when I walked onto the main exercise floor I thought I had accidentally stumbled into the testing facility for The Kennedy Space Center.
I had never seen so many machines and widgets in my entire life that would supposedly help me gain muscle and burn fat.
They had cardio equipment that allowed you to surf the web while you were on it, and workout machines that even kept track of your weight and reps for you…no lie.
Most of the equipment required you to sit down to use it, and each machine had multiple seat and lever adjustments, as well as a giant plastic sign with full instructions written on it.
I jumped on a few of the different pieces and banged out a couple sets each for about 15 minutes, but quickly grew bored with the limitations that they placed on me.
The problem with these gizmos is that they all isolated different bodyparts; one machine was for my biceps, another for core exercise, another for my pecs, and so on.
If all I had cared about doing was pumping up different bodyparts for purely cosmetic enhancement, I guess the machines would have been fine.
But I believe that this is one of the major setbacks for most of the people that workout in a regular health club.
You are being led like rats on a wheel, being told that this is how you should train, that machines are “safer” than free weights and just as effective.
You move from machine to machine, pumping up each bodypart individually, and then go run on a treadmill or an elliptical for an hour.
The problem here, boys and girls, is that none of this type of training is actually preparing you for real life, day-to-day activities.
It’s building “fake” muscles…toned, yeah, but unprepared for real athletic endeavors and leaving you prone to injury.
Think about this.
Most activities happen to you while you’re on your feet, and usually involve multiple muscle groups working simultaneously whilst doing things like bending, turning, twisting, running, etc.
For example, I’m thinking back to the day after Halloween last year, when I had to pick up and put away eight storage bins full of decorations weighing about 60-80 pounds each.
Let me tell you, no amount of measly isolation exercises on a machine would have prepared me for the amount of effort involved, or the stress on my back.
I had to not only hoist these up from the floor to shoulder level, I also had to press them above my head and twist my whole body 90 degrees to get each bin into its proper cubicle in my garage.
Whereas isolation training works individual bodyparts instead of preparing the body to work as a unit, most people who would have found themselves in my situation would have ended up with a tweaked back as a result of their inadequate training regimen.
So what’s the answer?
You need to train differently.
The type of training that will benefit you the most are exercises that require you to balance and coordinate, as well as challenging your strength, speed, flexibility and stamina.
You need to forget about what’s trendy and instead focus on what works.
You need to start training like a warrior, because every day, in a way, you ARE going into battle.
That battle consists of the strain being caused to your back and neck from sitting at a desk looking at a computer and watching reality shows and sports and DVD’s for long hours.
It consists of long commutes to work, and traffic jams and heavy traffic, all sapping your energy and making your muscles weak from disuse.
And lastly, there’s the stress of trying to be a great parent, boss, employee, son, daughter, and friend, all at the same time, every day.
E-mailing someone while you’re walking on a treadmill doesn’t make you better at time management, it makes your lungs weaker because you can’t possibly have a great run and type at the same time…it’s not even natural.
A machine that counts your reps and calculates your weight and makes you all comfy isn’t helping you, it’s just yet another fitness gimmick that’s keeping you form creating the body you truly want.
There is a responsibility that goes hand-in-hand with becoming healthy and in shape, and that responsibility is in learning to enjoy the process of getting in shape, and discovering what works best for you.
Stop trying to make everything in your life so convenient, because some things weren’t meant to be.
Being a great spouse, parent or boss isn’t always convenient; it takes consistent work, patience and commitment.
But I think that most people would agree that when you put in the time, blood, sweat, tears and love required for those endeavors, the payoff is 10 fold.
And so exercising properly is no different.
Workouts are supposed to be challenging …that’s what makes them effective.
And when you’re willing to train like a warrior, your body will become a walking testament to your effort. You will be free to soar amongst those that dare to be better today than yesterday.
So skip the machines for your next workout and go experiment with some old school free weights and bodyweight exercises.
Examples of bodyweight exercises include:
Pushups using varied hand positions
Lunges (jumping, alternating, backward, side, in-place, etc)
These exercises are highly effective, so be forewarned; you may be so sore afterward that you won’t be able to blow your nose without assistance : )
Raise your intensity levels in the gym; cut back on the chatter, don’t watch TV or read, and strive to get outside of your comfort zone on every exercise.
Do this for 30 days and I’ll guarantee you that you’ll be closer to your ideal body than you have in the last 5 years!
Live With Passion,