May 3, 2017, Posted by Josh Wight in Health & Fitness, Life
I’ve written extensively about my workout routines in the past on the blog, shared many of my PR videos on Facebook and Instagram, but plan to take a slightly different approach with Part 2 of this 5-part series on routines. Instead of detailing my lifting schedule and telling you about my sets and reps, or how much cardio I do, I’ve broken down what I do each week into a template that, even if you don’t have the same specific training goals as me (hitting certain powerlifting numbers, reducing bodyfat percentage, etc.), you’ll be able to read this post and create a training plan of your own that will help you reach a goal I’d say most/all of us are aiming for: being better at LIFE! For those of you still interested, here’s my template for “Training for Life.”
- Strength – This one might be a stretch for some people, but I believe it’s important enough to make it the #1 part of my Training for Life template. I couldn’t agree more with Mark Bell’s Instagram post on this topic: “No one ever regretted getting stronger.” The stronger you are, the less likely you are to get hurt doing something during your day. Lifting groceries? Strong people are better at it. Picking up your kids and carrying them around? Strong people are better at it. Moving furniture or doing house projects? You get the point. Don’t fool yourself, no matter how many times you can dumbbell press 25lbs, you won’t get better at lifting 50 or 100lbs. Lifting heavy weight requires training your muscles to better recruit muscle fibers and the only way to do that is by lifting heavy weight.
- Solution: Follow the 3×3 or 5×5 rule – 3-5 times a week, lift something HEAVY 3-5 times for 3-5 sets.
- Side note: Now ladies (and some of you men), this doesn’t mean use the purple Richard Simmons dumbbells instead of the Pink Susanne Summers dumbbells for your jazzercise class!! I mean F***ing HEAVY! Like so heavy that once you’ve lifted it the 5th time, you couldn’t lift it again. Red-in-the-face, breathing hard, straining HEAVY.
- Hypertrophy– I know this is a Bro-Science lifting buzzword, but it’s incredibly important if you are interested in being better at life. As we age, it becomes harder and harder to maintain muscle mass. Again, I know many of you (especially women) are thinking to yourselves, “I don’t care about muscle MASS” … but you should! Check out this study from 2008 showing the relationship between muscle mass and mobility in the elderly population. The take-away? More lean muscle mass leads to less mobility issues/severity as we age.
- Solution: 3-5 times a week lift moderately heavy weights in sets of 8-12. Again, avoid those colored dumbbells. You should feel like you can’t lift another rep after 8-12 reps. This is a proven rep range to increase muscle mass. I do this right after my strength work.
- Side note: For you YOUNG people, this range will help you get BIG! For the rest of us, including you WOMEN who “don’t want to look like a bodybuilder,” don’t worry. YOU WON’T!!Women produce about 1/10th the amount of testosterone that a normal man produces, so getting BIG would be a bigger chore than you imagine (think training multiple times a day and eating 2-3x the amount of calories you are currently eating). I rest assured most of you won’t be doing that. Listen to world famous bodybuilder and trainer Dorian Yates talk about this topic here (fast forward to 1:16:00 – 1:19:00)
- Conditioning– Don’t confuse conditioning with “Toning.” Toning is BULLSH**! There. Is. No. Such. Thing. See the Dorian Yates link above if you want to argue this point. You can make muscles stronger by training them to better recruit more muscle fibers (see Strength section) or you can make muscles larger (see hypertrophy section). There isn’t a third option. When people say they want to “Tone,” what they are really saying is that they want the layer of fat that covers their muscles to decrease and their muscle to increase so that you can see muscle definition through the skin. Conditioning, then, serves 2 purposes: lose fat and create good cardiovascular health.
- Solution: 3 or more times a week, do some cardiovascular (heart) conditioning. If you are a fan of traditional steady state cardio, by all means, follow your Dr’s advice and trudge away on the treadmill or elliptical for 40 minutes at a pace that elevates your heart rate. There is nothing wrong with this type of cardio, but loads of science is beginning to suggest that there MIGHT be a more efficient way to get the fat burning and cardiovascular benefits we need for longevity. It’s called HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. Here’s an article that explains it’s benefits AND gives some sample workouts.
- Mobility: This one is simple, yet it’s the one I’m least fond of practicing. We can have loads of muscle, limited fat, and be strong, and able to keep our heart rate elevated for extended periods, but if we can’t move (full-range of motion in the basic movement patterns), it’s all for naught. I’m not a huge fan of mobility-for-mobility’s sake, though. I prefer to approach mobility by making sure I can achieve appropriate and safe positions for heavy lifting.
- Solution: Pushing away from your chest, Pushing vertically (above shoulders), Pulling towards your chest, Pulling vertically (from overhead to shoulders), Squatting (ass to grass), and lifting from the floor (deadlift) are the 6 primary movement patterns. Mobility work should help people perform these movements appropriately and safely. If you can’t squat ass-to-grass, work on hip and ankle mobility. If you can’t bend down to pick something up without arching your back, work on your hip mobility and core/back stability. If you can’t press something and hold it above straight above your head, work on shoulder mobility. Etc. Etc. Check out Kelly Starrett’s Mobility WOD youtube channelfor some great tips.
- General Movement & Recovery: This is the first time that I’ve thrown this category into my training template, but I’m beginning to believe that it may be more crucial than any of the aforementioned items. Without constant movement (walking, playing, standing, etc.) our bodies breakdown, our metabolism slows, and we become less mobile. Without adequate recovery activities like meditation, walking, and other distressing activities, our bodies respond by stunting growth and releasing hormones that cause us to hold on to fat (survival mechanism), among other things. In other words, without leisurely movement and recovery activities, all of our attempts to gain muscle and lose fat, get thwarted.
- Solution: Every day, try to prioritize movement. Stand more. Walk more. Take the stairs. Your metabolism will respond to increases in non-stressful movement positively (see Dr. Jade Teta’s research on this subject at metaboliceffect.com). Every day, especially after a stressful training stimulus, perform some form of recovery activity. I choose meditation in the mornings, but will often sit in the sauna or hot tub after a workout. My wife loves massages for this. Whatever your poison, if you work hard, you need to recover hard. Doing so blunts Cortisol production, telling the body that it’s not in survival mode (hold on to fat), but growth mode!
I know that’s a lot to process, so here it is in Simple Man form:
- Lift some HEAVY sh** 3-4 times a week
- After lifting heavy, lift moderately heavy weights in higher reps for the remainder of the workout
- Do some conditioning like 20-30 minute HIIT or 30-40 mins of cardio a few times a week.
- If you struggle to perform any lifts with full-range of motion, work on mobility that will help
- Recover as hard or harder than you workout. Eg. Meditate daily (reduce cortisol) and take a leisurely walk.
Sound like a plan?
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