The method of how you train may matter more than the specific exercises you choose

May 17, 2013 by Angela Coon


I recently read an article where  the author tried making a case for why certain exercises should be removed from your training routine.  The article was called: “ 5 Most Overrated Exercises You Can Stop Doing. “

Read the full article here but also read the rest of my post .

As I finished reading the article I could not find any reason to stop doing exercises that might be working well for someone.  Maybe people  would benefit more by changing the methods of how they perform their exercise routine not just the exclusion or replacement of certain exercises? I think it makes sense to try and replicate how elite athletes train as they are spending larger amounts of time perfecting athletic skills to compete at a very high level. Try some of the suggestions I have made below and decide for yourself whether you need to change specific exercises or alter the method of how you organize your routine. I think you might like some of these ideas. 

1. Experiment with shorter or longer rest intervals to intensify quality or make the workout more cardiovascular in nature.  Shorter rest periods will make things harder for you and therefore more intense. Intensity can be very good but intensity is also difficult to repeat consistently so be thoughtful. For example most elite sprinters may be able to handle 3 very intense sessions per week but others may only handle 2 high intensity sessions per week. Define intensity? Well, it has to do with the percentage of your total maximum output over a certain period of time. Longer rest periods might allow you to perform exercises more intensely but you need to be progressive with what you are doing over time or you risk for injury goes up.  

Example = plank = you might routinely repeat this for 30 seconds. On occasion you might challenge yourself to see how long you can hold the plank for more than 30 seconds.

2.  Another trick is to add a small number of abdominal exercises between each exercise. You might take these 5 exercises, perform this routine as a circuit and all of a sudden you have a totally different workout.     

Example. – side plank 30 seconds

                   4 regular sit ups

                   Traditional crunches

                   4 sit ups (choose a different kind then crunches or regular sit ups)

                    Bench press

                    4 sit ups of yet a different type again

                    Seated knee extension

                    4 varied sit ups

                    Hanging knee raises

You could repeat this above circuit. One or two more times depending on how much time you want to spend exercising. 

3.  Another great way to change the way this routine could become more or different for you would be to add intervals on a bike, treadmill, pool or other exercise machine. The only restriction might be gyms might not offer the flexibility of going back and forth from some      equipment while doing other exercises but I will leave it to you to innovate where and how you could make some of these general ideas work for you.

Conclusion =

There is a lot of information in the media which I feel caters to a quick fix or fast and easy approach to fitness. The ideas I am trying to teach people stem from rules followed by athletes to succeed in a competitive sport.  Typically I see people in gyms doing a few exercises with the expectation of success. Try some change in your  methodology ( =  how you train)  by mixing some of your own simple exercises ( or the ones listed in this article) but experiment with how you perform those exercises.   You may continue to gradually adjust and do other things but I think the method is far more important than the exercises you select. 

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Three General Guidelines to Training

April 17, 2013 by Angela Coon


I get a lot of questions about training from clients and customers and friends. I get questions from mom's about their kids training and I get questions from girlfriends who used to be very active. Now some of these people are less active because of having kids and how life gets busy and then training gets buried into their schedules as a low or a non existent priority.
With this in mind maybe these Three General Guidelines to Training might  jump start you into a new workout or help you improve training you might already be doing. 
Number 1.
Do something you can repeat each weekly cycle. For example = Everyone wants to go for the big workout day one with zero thought about day 2,3 4 on. Hey, I am not being critical. The Bootcamp business model thrives on this idea.  It's not anyone's fault. you just don't know different or better ( yet ) How about you try to do what I tell people all the time.  Set yourself up to succeed. Test yourself. Start with a 20 minute maximum routine and see if are able to repeat it  every other day for 7 to 10 days. Your next test is to  keep that same workout exactly the same and repeat if for one more cycle ( try and repeat another 7 to 10 day trail of 20 minute workouts ) . If you can do that then experiment to add 5 to 10 more minutes on the 20 minute workout. ( one common mistake I see all the time =  No one wants to skip a day inbetween. Why ? =  because more is better. ( it's our North American culture imbedded that more is better)  Trust me. More is more. More is not always better. Stick to the plan of this Number 1 and you will do fine. )  
Number 2 
You need to find the kind of exercise that works for you. This took me a long time to learn post athletic career. I am one of the lucky ones. I love exercising because it makes me feel better than I did if I don't exercise. I even think it acts like medicine for some but that is for another blog. Walking for exercise might sound dull or riding your bike might seem too easy  but both forms of exercise are repeatable and sustainable and they are relatively safe. One tip =  injuries happen to everyone.  when they happen they pull people off track. Having babies, starting new jobs or something accidental while enjoying a weekend activity... Then what? Stick to Number 1 and work on Number 2. No excuses =  you can do a ton of exercises in your basement , bedroom ( no comments from the cheap seats please) or your living room. Get down and give me  3 sets of 5 push ups and 10 sit-ups  ( switch the order and number around/ woman do more sit ups / men do more pushups generally) and you pick one other exercise and repeat it 3 x a week. Ya, I know. Most of you reading this are saying that is not enough. Ok. do it and tell me different and what worked for you then. 
Number 3.
Regarding the silly numbers I just recommended someone do for push-ups and sit ups in my last general principle? Well,  10 situps and 5 push ups? Really? 3 sets? That's it? Yeah, well I have seen people who could not really sustain that but so what. Work with what you have and grow it from there. Small progression over time needs to happen. It has been called Progression of load. Load could be a bunch of things . Load could be progressively add some time onto the workout.Load could also be progressively adding one more or two more to a set. Here is the thing. Most people progressively load too FAST. 
Whoops ONE more and its kinda important but I am not adding in because three things is enough to remember. I could give you 10 general principle but 3 is enough right now.  Just remember this last thing =  PLAN TO REST, SLEEP MORE, SLEEP BETTER, ACTIVELY PURSUE THE IDEA THAT IF YOU TRAIN or WORKOUT  or  ARE TRYING TO DO SOME KIND OF PERFORMANCE .... you can't just keep adding more work to your day or more exercise as without restoring your energy pool , naturally revitalizing you energy capabilities and giving yourself a chance to re-boot. 
I know lots of people want  recipe workouts and training . Just try to keep in mind these 3 Easy to follow General Principles of Training   and  my  hope is some of these ideas help you get going.  Moving  makes us feel better and when we feel better we laugh more , love more and enjoy more.
I hope it is going well for you.
I wish you my best in the journey. 
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