By: Anthony Campo
I recently received and e-mail that I believe reflects some big misnomers about fitness. I do not know where some of these false beliefs come from, however I do believe that our modern culture has something to do with it. It is important to note that these false beliefs have led us to a society that is projected to have 9 out of 10 individuals overweight or obese, and 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with type II diabetes within the next 30-40 years. I hope that my response will help to clear up some of these misconceptions that exist about training in today’s society that are contributing to our downward spiral.
Guess it is time to train. I have decided that I really want to work on muscle strengthening but am not concerned with lifting over my head or lifting a lot of weight. I also am not going to do push-ups because at 65 (almost) I don’t care if I can do a push- up. I would like to strengthen and stretch muscle. Can you still work with me in this capacity? I know that you like weights and lifting. My friend and I are taking a yoga class in June and at the end of June also a stretch and balancing class through BCC. I think this will help me with my mobility. What do you think about this?
I am happy to hear from you and hope everything is going well. I would like to help you better understand just what training is. Many individuals fail to train, and instead workout. Working out pertains to randomized exercises with no built in programming, while training refers to strategic programming with a plan to achieve both short term and long term goals.
I choose the exercises that I do because they are the most efficient exercises for strengthening. They are still unique to the individual in that I assess where you are on the spectrum and select movements that train your specific level with a plan to progress forward. I do not have you do pushups because I want you to brag that you can do a pushup. A pushup is the one of the most efficient and effective upper body/core/ lower body intra-muscular coordination exercises you can do. Everyone regardless of age should be doing some form of a pushup based on what their level is and with a plan in place to progress and get them stronger based on Wolf’s Law (Wolf’s Law states that the body adapts based on the demands placed on it).
Most balance issues come from lack of strength, motor unit recruitment and coordination; so you want to pick compound movements that will train functional mechanics and improve your functional abilities as you get older. Movements such as the squat and push-up do just this. The idea of training is to get stronger and make progress. As you develop, external resistance and loading is needed to continue to create positive body adaptions for the long run. So the “lifting” as you call it isn’t just for sport or because I think it is cool, it is again because it is the most efficient means of producing the results you desired. I assess and train/treat individuals on all levels of the spectrum, from bed bound non-ambulatory persons, to elite level athletes. The same basic rules in physics and general exercise science apply to all individuals regardless of age or ability. The key is to assess the individual and choose the level of the most efficient and effective movements possible. This becomes especially important when you are limited on training days or time. It would be in your interest to focus your training around the areas in which you have the most need based on your goals. In other words you want to focus your time on the areas that will give you the most bang for your buck.
Based on what we have already discussed (unless there has been any major changes since we last spoke), Your largest amount of time should be focuses on strengthening and becoming more proficient at the major compound functional movements such as pushups, squats, pull-ups and lunges. These will be your best tools for building strength, balance, and reducing symptoms such as pain for the long run. Also according to the law of specificity these exercises will train the movements and muscles that will give you the best translation into your everyday daily activity.
An almost equal amount of time should be spent on corrective work such as mobility for your thoracic spine and hips. Stability work for your lumbar spine and knees. Activation work for your ankle dorsi-flexors and plantar-flexors. This was exactly what you were doing, and we were actually using many “yoga” protocols to specifically address some of the very things I just mentioned. However, a generalized class that is not based on your needs can potentially be dangerous. For instance mobility is a very complicated subject that many fitness professionals do not fully understand, and stretching weak muscles in your chain can lead to injury and dysfunction. Also, many group exercise instructors and trainers also do not have a background in neurology. This many times leads to improper types of stretching that can increase neurological symptoms. Generalized yoga and strength/balancing classes can be good extras that could complement your main training, but would be a step backwards from what you were doing alone by themselves, which would create a negative body adaption not a positive one.
I would love to continue training with you however I would like to do it the right way based on your specific training needs. I hope that this helps you to understand my train of thought when designing the programs I have for you in the past. I can show you many markers in which you have made extensive progress, which is especially impressive considering the large amounts of the time you have spent away from the gym and training. If you are looking to obtain more substantial progress in a shorter period of time we must look in to how we can better manage your time and commitment throughout the year without large periods of time off. Let me know if you would like to meet to design another program or if you have any questions, I hope to see you in the gym!