The Goal: Fitness
There is only one place to start with how you pick a fitness program. If the program you belong to doesn’t have an observable, measurable and repeatable definition of its goal… you are going to find your results lacking.
Fitness- is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
In non-scientific terms fitness is increasing your average power output across any time frame you can think of at a mixture of any physical tasks you can think of.
Power is measured in several ways. One example is horse power measured in foot-pounds per second. The equation is as such: Power=(Load in lbsX Distance in feet)/Time in seconds in even simpler form P=(LxD)/T. As a reference 1 horse power is 550 foot-pounds per second. 1 Horse power is equivalent to 746 watts (measure of electric power).
Broad time: increasing your average power at 1s, and also increasing your power at several hours.
Broad modal domains: increasing your power across many types of movements for example: pushing, pulling, climbing, jumping, running etc.
We are going to pick movements that have the ability to create the most amount of power because… they will create more power. Let’s compare.
|Deadlift||Biceps Curl||Box Jump||Triceps Extension||Back Squat||Leg Curl|
|Load (lbs)||500||80||185 (BW)||120||385||100|
|Power (ft x lbs)/s||1250||200||740||240||1060||275|
We can very quickly determine which movements have the capacity to create more power, thus creating higher training effect. Common themes are these movements look like things you do in life: pick things of the ground, climb stairs, sit down in your chair. We can simply bust out a tape measure, a stop watch and a scale and measure with precision which movements will have the most effect. Go ahead and experiment for yourself next time you’re at the gym. If your program uses movements are low power… you are probably spending more time wasting than gaining, so long as you’re happy with your results I won’t press on. If you would be happier with more results than you are getting keep reading.
The goals of your program
What is the goal of your program? Can you find it? Can your coach or trainer define it? Does it have anything to do with the definition of fitness(power)? Does it have to do with some correlate of fitness?
What is a correlate of fitness? Well it turns out most everyone we’ve ever spoke to during their first month was chasing something other than fitness. Which was why they were getting hung up and not getting results. So here’s a visual
If you pursue fitness (average power across a wide spectrum of time and movements) then all your correlates for fitness or health will move in the positive direction. If weight loss is your goal, chase fitness. If better looking is your goal, chase high power output. If cholesterol is your gig, chase more work in less time. Is the goal of your program to sweat and make you sore? If it is then you may get lucky and run into some high power outputs, but if high power isn’t the goal… your results will be left to luck.
Move big weights and move them fast?
“So let me get this straight… you want me to move heavy weights really fast?” The answer to that question is no, and is where a lot of people go wrong. Moving heavier weight doesn’t always make the workout better. Remember we are trying to increase average power. Not weight on the bar. Sometimes weight on the bar may go up to increase your average power, sometimes it may go down. The goal each day is to increase average power not arbitrarily add weight because you want to be macho.
Something that every coach, trainer and athlete should know and understand is the value of Productive Application of Force. All this means is using your energy in a productive manner to accomplish a specific task. What this means is using proper technique. If we spend energy not completing the task at hand it is wasted which means lower average power. For example in a baseball game. A batter swings as hard and as fast as he can. He misses the ball. How productive was his application of force? It was a zero(or negative considering he now has a strike against him) he did not apply a single bit of force to the ball in which he was trying to hit. Improper form on any lift is like swinging and missing it is a misuse of energy and best and a recipe for injury at worst. If the batter swings as hard as he can and hits the ball over the fence, he has made a productive effort and has earned his result. There are very few times when a movements form and technique could or should be allowed to sway from near perfect.
You should use more weight when you can and have demonstrated consistency moving that weight in a less demanding situation: less speed, less weight, less duress. There is a time and a place to add or not add weight. If you can’t demonstrate proficiency while you’re fresh you can’t expect that it will go well when you add complexity(speed, weight, duress). Which brings us to the next point which may be more important than anything.
Your Brain: Exercise It
“Can I try a muscle up!?” Do you have a pull up? Do you have a dip? “No” Use your brain! Any reasonable, logical, experience or otherwise brained human should be able to realize the entire world is full of danger. With that said we all go on living, at every moment weighing the risk and reward to every action. If you are hanging 8 feet off the ground and fall… what’s going to happen? Ouch! “500# holy cow that’s heavy!” Hell yes it is and that amount of gravity has some serious ramifications if you play with it incorrectly. Here’s a life lesson you probably learned as a kid, and so many people have apparently forgotten. Just because Johnny Dingbat is doing something stupid doesn’t mean you have to do something stupid. Just because Johnny wants to do some burpee, wall ball, back flips doesn’t mean you have to be stupid too. Any time you think you want to do something ask yourself a couple questions: can I do this at slow speed? can I do this at lighter weight? can I control myself and the equipment with a high degree of certainty? Is this movement going to produce a high amount of productive power? If you answer no… your logic has already told you what to do… USE YOUR BRAIN.
Trust me I’m a Professional
Have you ever met a moron in your life? If you answered no, then when you look in the mirror you might be King Moron, and if you are you probably didn’t get that I just called you a moron but moving on. In every profession, in every country, at every level there are people with zero logic or sense of what, why, or how to do things. With that said just because you’ve had one moron of a dentist doesn’t mean you should never go to A dentist again for the rest of your life. Get over it, there are plenty of Phd morons. There are also plenty of CSCS morons. Zumba morons. P90x morons. CrossFit Morons. Don’t let one moron make you believe everyone of that same demographic is a moron… aka don’t be prejudice. If you did that to someone of one race… that would make you a racist. A gender… a sexist. A sexual preference… a homophobe.
Specifically if you believe Coach Dingbat is a moron because on your first day he told you to deadlift heavy weight and swing a 35# kettlebell. Well it’s because he probably is, but if you couldn’t realize that he or she was the moron and not the methodology… I think that makes you the moron, and you might be Author Dingbat.
Your own ability to make logical decisions for yourself is how you survive life. It just so happens for people who want to be fit, usually the gym is a part of that life where you also have to make logical, reasonable decisions that meet your goals. Assuming that everyone of a demographic is the same as the first one you met is ignorant.
Why CrossFitters CrossFit
Because those who do are in the pursuit of a measurable, observable and repeatable goal: Fitness… Oh and they’re accomplishing it.