Epidemic is a harsh word to hear under any circumstance. It is used in zombie movies when referring to a virus outbreak and in the media when crime has reached “epidemic proportions.” Epidemic has also been in the news recently about the health issues plaguing the United States. With over two-thirds of the population either overweight or obese, its use is understandable.
One of the major factors contributing to the growth of metabolic disorders and heart disease is an increasingly sedentary lifestyle among most Americans. I woke up this morning and cooked some eggs, a ton of bacon, and chased them with two large cups of coffee. Did I wake up early, go outside in the cold to slaughter a hog, gather eggs from my chickens, and harvest some coffee beans? No. Unlike our 1930s counterparts I did all this in about five minutes at the grocery store the night before. Truth be told I was cussing under my breath because I had to put that much effort into it. I seriously debated driving about fifteen minutes to hit a drive-thru so I didn’t have to cook; I’m not a morning person......
The issue here is that the human body was designed for motion. Hunters and gatherers spent their entire lives chasing sustenance. They would use every available resource in the area until the food/water disappeared or if the climate forced them out. They did not sit in chairs for eight to ten hours a day, only to come home to sit on a couch until time to go to bed. They would spend every waking hour hunting wild game, gathering water, fruits, and vegetables, building shelter, and other life dependent activities. The only time they seemed to stop and sit was to socialize and bond with the rest of the tribe. Moral of the story: They spent a lot of Time in Motion (T.i.M.).
Think about every exercise class/video fat loss fad ever created. They all have one thing in common; they get your ass off the couch. Zumba, Tae-Bo, P90X, Brazilian Butt Workout, and yes even Jazzercise followed this principle. They kept you going with horrible music and a small class sample of beautiful bodies. The funny part is that those people in the videos are there because their paid to be. Not because they really believe in the program, nor because that program got them to where they are. Another selling point for these programs are progress pics. These are the single most abused and misleading aspects of fitness ever created. These can literally be shot in the same day (google: same day before and after) and show ridiculous improvements. The other way is a trade secret so we won’t go into that.
So how does one adapt this philosophy into their training? The best ways are circuit training and variable speed training. Circuit training will usually involve more than 4 exercises performed back to back for 3 or more rounds with no rest in between exercises. Some circuits like the "300 Workout" will only be one round consisting of 300 combined reps of 7 exercises. The rest period will come after all exercises are completed for the round. Rest intervals should be modified depending on number of exercises and level of intensity needed. The exercise should be programmed to work the entire body and space out exercises for similar muscle groups.
Variable speed training is a great way to cover distance without wearing out too early. The key to this is to start out walking and jogging. Do not jog to fatigue and stop. Walking is the main focus and jogging should be added in slowly until a steady pace can be established. The next morning will be a good indicator as to whether the training was too intense. Once a comfortable balance is found, it will be easy to increase your intensity slowly. It is important to increase intensity once you feel able while still being functional the next day. This is the progressive overload principle. Your body will adapt to the current activity level and stop changing, so you have to give your body the need to continue changing until you have met you fitness goals.
This goes back to the old saying “If walking is good for our health, the mailman would live forever.” The hole in this logic is that you can be sedentary even if you work on your feet all day long. The body finds its efficiency plateau and stays there. This is a comfortable place, but it does nothing for your goals. You must continue to push yourself and stay motivated until you have reach your goals and hopefully by then you will maintain the habits that got you there.
We all know someone who put in the effort to develop the body they wanted only to drift back into old habits and lose everything they worked for. Some have even been motivation for others and expressed how they felt confident and full of energy, but they lost sight of their goals and did not maintain their routine. One great way to fast track your progress and insure that this does not happen is to start healthy habits early on. This can be choosing to go for a walk instead of watching TV or taking the family camping and hiking on the weekends instead of lounging by the pool. I recently began playing disc golf on the weekends and it too is a great way to get some extra cardio in while hanging out with friends. You can not rely on a 30 min workout 2 days a week to change your life if you do nothing else for the other 111 hours you're awake.
Nutrition is a another huge factor in every program. The main reason for failure of a proper diet plan is that people try to jump in with both feet, then quickly grow tired of it and quit. My advise to every client is to start out slow. Eat healthy snacks first, then once you start that habit eat a healthy lunch 3 days a week and continue making small changes until you crave healthier foods. Make it a smooth transition and don’t be afraid to eat something unhealthy every now and then. Everything is good in moderation. If you know that you’re going to eat something that does not fit into your meal plan, like a family get-together or company meeting, then adjust your eating before hand in preparation for the meal.
I hope I have fully explained the concept of Tiny T.i.M. If you would like additional information, or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is hard to believe that health and fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry when only about one fifth of Americans meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and strength training physical activity. Does this mean that exercising is expensive? No, there are entire workout programs designed using only body weight exercises. Health conscious individuals can actually save money by exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being physically fit has numerous effects such as a higher quality of life, increased wellness, and increased confidence in one’s self.
A higher quality of life means living longer, having energy at the end of the day, and making fewer trips to the doctor’s office. As fitness levels increase, the signs of aging and fatigue begin to decrease, proving that cells regenerate at a faster pace when they are used. As individuals begin to exercise, their body adapts and becomes more efficient under physical stress. This means that his/her daily life starts to become easier and pretty soon they do not need that midday coffee break. Although a longer life is very beneficial, what would be the point if it came with the side effects listed on the label of prescriptions that doctors are so eager to give everyone that comes in their office? The good news is that exercise and a healthy diet also aid the immune system to help fight off disease and distress.
The mind needs to be exercised, as well as the body, in order to maintain balance. Mental fatigue can lead to mood swings, anger, and depression. An increase in wellness is an increase in health and awareness of both mind and body. Exercise requires the use of eustress or “good stress” on the mind and body as a whole. As the stress levels rise, the body and mind adapt and learn to handle the excessive load together. The mind will then get “stronger” and the effects of daily stress caused by work, personal relationships, and responsibilities become manageable. Having a wellness balance will also increase sex drive, improve sleep habits, and make every aspect life more enjoyable.
From giving a speech to breaking a record, confidence is a major factor in everyday life. Confidence can be a huge factor in your life from sports performance to public speaking to stressful situations like a zombie apocalypse. Professional athletes need confidence to perform under pressure. Politicians need that same confidence in themselves to lie to millions of people at a time. If zombies take over, self-confidence and mobility will become key factors in survival. In this situation, a person needs to be confident that they can make great decisions and not second guess themselves. Exercise transforms the body into an efficient weapon to tackle many different situations and also makes the mind think clearly under pressure. When a person knows their body can tackle any challenge and their mind can process information under great stress, confidence will come in great amounts.
These effects of being physically fit can change the lives of those who are willing to push themselves to get what they want. I personally do not know of any disadvantages to being physically fit and I cannot understand why people choose to be lazy and unhealthy. Imagine if there was a pill that was proven to increase longevity, strength, energy, lean muscle mass, appearance, wellness, peace of mind, quality of sleep, and mental clarity. Pharmaceutical companies would generate ridiculous profits, no matter how expensive they priced the product. Exercise will do all of these things for free. The only problem is that it requires actual effort, hard work, and dedication by the individuals that want to enjoy the benefits. Higher quality of life, increased wellness, and increased confidence are simply byproducts of being physically fit.
With the millions of programs and set/rep schemes, it’s hard to believe that everything can be broken down into one simple idea. The truth is, the fitness industry is full of fluff and exercises that look awesome, but are ultimately ineffective. It’s hard to sell your training manuals when it looks exactly the same as everyone before it. This is why most trainers try to add some flare with some crazy, and sometimes dangerous, exercises. If it looks cool for a photo op, then it must work great right? Some companies even make their events as dangerous as possible for the sake of the viewers (I’ll give you one guess as to who I am refereeing to). But I digress.
Time under tension (T.U.T.) is the basis for every quality hypertrophy program. This means that in order to build muscle, you have to spend some time with some with the weights. Most mass building programs like to go with the basic 3 sets of 8-12 reps for 5 to 6 exercises with a minute or two rest in between. Look familiar? These programs are great for beginners and anyone on a back to basics kick, but the novelty wears off pretty quick. These “cookie cutter” programs are designed to be interchangeable for quick and easy monthly updates. I found this out in high school when I bought every muscle mag I could find in hopes of packing some muscle on my wiry, fragile frame. I then decided to stop program hopping and design the program that would get me where I wanted to go. For this feat, I began to study the legends of the sport.
My next purchase was “Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder,” a notepad and a pen. I did as much research as possible and found that every pro bodybuilder had a few things in common, besides massive grocery bills. They used 5 to 6 day split training with 2-a-day schedules. This means that the designed 10 to 12 workouts and staggered their training so that most muscles would be trained 2 to 4 times a week. “But, but, but what about overtraining?” That unicorn disappeared over four decades ago. Needless to say, they spent a lot of time under tension.
Arnold was known to perform 9 to 12 sets of a single exercise if he didn’t think the muscle was getting the attention that it needed. Another growing fitness persona, Dwayne Johnson, talks about starting his arm workout with 7 sets of 8-12 on barbell curls. Expert trainer and competitive bodybuilder Rob Goodwin regularly knocked out 100 rep sets of isolation lifts in his preparation for his debut competition at Muscle Heat in Greensboro, where he took 2nd in the Open Weight Division and 3rd in Master’s Heavyweight. (For more information on Rob, check out his blog at http://www.originalworkout.net/robs-blog). Seems like a bit of a pattern.
While this is just trial and error and “Bro Science,” the actual science behind T.U.T. is sound as well. Muscles do not grow because you want them to. “Ok, Billy is doing 3 sets of 8-12 on bicep curls, so we’ll throw some extra mass on them to make him happy.” I wish it was this easy. The body evolves to make itself more efficient at daily tasks and reduce the strain involved in those tasks. If you are training like a mad man, your body will freak out and produce more growth hormone to protect itself and become more efficient (to a certain extent). Lumberjacks are notoriously large men because they lift and move heavy logs around all day. Their bodies have to adapt to their new level of “normal.”
This principle is based on building raw muscle mass and does not necessarily translate into cutting and shaping. As always, nutrition plays a huge role in any program and you have to eat big to get big. Another aspect to increasing your time under tension is increasing your quality of rest. For more on this check out my blog post “Active Recovery.”
As I mentioned in 5 Best Movements for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, loaded carries are the unsung heroes of sports performance not only because it provides constant tension, but it also builds unbreakable mental strength. This is why the loaded carry is the military’s favorite tool for exercise and discipline.
Constant tension is a large component to gaining quality muscle. ( for more on this see King T.U.T. - The Only Lifting Principle You Need to Build Quality Muscle) It builds mental strength because it's so easy to drop the weight and call it quits. Just set it down right here and take an extra break. But what about one more step? Pushing through the “want” to quit and finding the will to finish. The difference between want and need should be clearly defined when setting goals. How bad do you “want” to be better? This is where you have to tell your body that you're not done.
This comes up a lot in Jiu-Jitsu, as well as all areas of life. One of my favorite ways to tap people in Jiu-Jitsu is to break them mentally. Once they get tired all you have to do is put them in a bad position, cook 'em for a little bit, and wait for them to give up. Sometimes you don't even have to threaten with a submission, just maintain a tight control. This may sound mean spirited and cold, but it helps them to build the will to survive and teaches them the difference between discomfort and pain. This can also come up throughout any endeavor in life. Many individuals begin working out only to realize that their chosen journey, (whether it's weight loss, weight gain, etc) is a long hard road and the short cuts may come with side effects. Few have the mindset to become a success story, but that is why everyone loves success stories. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Loaded carries are a great way to break through the plateau and add some variation to any program. The key to programming carries lies heavily on variation. There are many different variations, but some of the more popular ones are the farmer carries, overhead carries, single shoulder carries, and firemen carries.
Farmer Carry - The farmer carry is performed by carrying weights in each hand at the waist like carrying buckets. I prefer using kettlebells because of the thicker handles to add tension to the grip.
Overhead Carry - This can be used together with a barbell or sandbag or independently with kettlebells or dumbbells. This will add tension to the midsection and shoulders.
Single Shoulder Carry - This should be performed with a sandbag or punching bag (something soft). This exercise loads the weight onto one shoulder for half of the walk and weight must be switched to opposite shoulder to even the workload. *Use proper technique to load weight and use a weight that you can keep your shoulders somewhat level.*
Firemen Carry - The firemen carry is a great exercise for group training. One partner drapes across the others shoulders and holds on. The carrier must balance and control the weight as they walk. The load is somewhat uneven, so it's best to switch sides halfway through the walk before switching partners.*Use proper technique to load partner and ensure that the partner being carried balances their weight keep the carriers shoulders somewhat level.*
Loaded carries can be performed two ways: light for long distance or heavy for short distance. I prefer the latter; I'm not a huge fan of Long, Slow, Distance (LSD) training. I'd much rather pick up the heaviest thing I can and get a couple hundred feet in than load up a 60 lbs rucksack for a hike.
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional