Volume 2 Issue 5: Change and Consistency
Stress as a stimulus
My training philosophy is based on client goals and adequate progressions to maintain or increase health. To achieve this, it’s extremely important to constantly stress the body both in acute bouts of exercise and in the long-term. “Stress, in a scientific sense, is a stimulus for growth. Without stress living organisms don't adapt, don't change. So you need stress. But stress is only beneficial in the right dose; when you have the capacity, resources, and support to absorb it; and when it's followed by rest” (Brad Stulberg). Yes, we need stress. But we also need time to rest, both in hours of sleep and also in certain days of no training. This is called periodization. I often tell clients my goal isn’t for everything to always go up and to the right. That’s where novelty, new training protocols and stressors come into play when people get in a rut. It’s one of the biggest hurdles to people’s fitness: a stale routine.
When is the last time you felt challenged in a workout? Not just it was ‘tough’, or you sweat a lot. But you would report that you weren’t quite sure you could finish that workout. That’s challenge. That’s stress. And that’s what will force your body to adapt and improve your health.
I’m so passionate about this mentality that I’ve started to program it into my training sessions with clients. I want them to know what challenge is and then I want them to be able to bring it themselves. So I’ll give parameters (“we’re doing three sets”) but have them pick the reps. Only the client knows if they’re fully challenged, but it’s better than always listening to the trainer define the reps/sets. Or I’ll get through two sets and on the third I’ll ask: “If we go up in intensity, would it be in weights or in more reps?” Ask yourself these questions each week, each workout. Most of us are able to do more than we give ourselves credit for and more than we think possible.
On the flip side
Of course there’s always two sides of the coin, right? While I’m constantly looking for ways to challenge and (appropriately) stress my clients, that doesn’t mean switching up the entire program is a good idea. Having a plan is essential to success. In fact, at some level it doesn’t even matter what the plan is as long as it’s well thought out, consistently executed, and constantly monitored so you can make (minor) adjustments along the way. Let me point to Stanford University for some clarity. “A 2018 study out of Stanford University compared low-fat and low-carb diets, also tracking randomly assigned participants for a year. The best predictor of weight loss wasn’t which diet the participants were assigned to but whether or not they adhered to that diet.” I pulled this quote from The Case for Not Changing a Thing. As a trainer it is my job to train not only the physical body but also mindset and execution of a healthy lifestyle, not just a series of workouts.
Fit and Fabulous
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be a guest on 93.1 JAMZ and a new segment they’re doing called Fit and Fabulous. The idea is discuss all things that help a woman become, you guessed it, fit and fabulous. Interestingly this bit is co-hosted by Krista of JAMZ and a couple ladies from Girl Talk (channel 57) and so yes this is a primarily female demographic. Still it was a great opportunity for me to coach a new group of listeners to my training philosophy. We discussed where to start a basic exercise program, how to prepare for summer (and long term) fitness, and we even created a Facebook group to give ourselves a place to discuss our journey since radio has its limitations. You can watch the Facebook Live broadcast or get just the audio. I’ll be on three more times this summer. Let me know what you think!
I found this spring’s weather very interesting in that one week we had our last big snowfall and five weeks later it was over 90º. There wasn’t’ much time for athletes to acclimate to the heat and it showed at the Monona 20k. Long-time residents of Wisconsin know and joke about this quickly changing weather but the reality is no matter how much time we have to transition, eventually we get to June where the sun is out, vegetation has come to life and the clock is ticking. Yes, autumn and the football season are right around the corner so let’s get after these summer months! Lots of people have notice my tan which is on display earlier than usual because I’ve leveraged the outdoor workout facility at Pinnacle. I’ve taken more clients out there than ever before and it’s really shown its benefits early in the summer training season.
Do you have outdoor activities for the summer? With my gym membership I’m often associating my workouts with the equipment I have at the club. While it may require me to purchase a few more pieces of gear, outdoor workouts are very special. Feeling the sun, breeze, and even the grass and pavement add significant components to your daily routine. For me it’s been about tennis and basketball with my kids. Plus my youngest just learned to ride a bike on two wheels so we’ll be all over this summer - I’m so pumped for this! The biggest reason to get outside this summer for your recreation and fitness pursuits is because it changes things up and as we’ve learned this issue change produces a certain amount of stress and if this is a good an manageable amount of stress, then it will produce an adaptation which means increased levels of fitness. Change and consistency may seem like contradictions but your pursuit of health requires you to constantly audit these two and maximize their effect on training.