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Are You Following the Wrong Exercise Program?

Are You Following the Wrong Exercise Program?

Why do some of us invest so much time and energy into our exercise program for so little in the way of results. Yep it’s true; some of us spend a lot of time achieving not too much. Heaps of sweat, commitment and even dollars, for a less than desirable return.

I’m constantly getting letters, emails and phone calls from frustrated exercisers, so I figure it is time to take a look at why time spent exercising doesn’t always equate to desirable results.

Lifestyle

    Let’s get under way with some basic exercise physiology…

    Our body recognises exercise as a form of stress (mostly good stress) and when we stress our body the right way for long enough, it adapts. Simple enough. We see those physiological adaptations as improvements in aerobic fitness, strength, muscular endurance, speed, power, flexibility, along with decreases in body-fat levels and increases in lean mass (muscle). From a purely scientific and academic perspective, changing a body is a relatively straight forward process. In reality, we know that once we throw human emotions and a few other practical issues into the mix, that simplicity can become a lot more complex!

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    Bodies don’t think, they simply adapt.

    If we put too many calories into a body it will ‘adapt’ by storing that excess energy in the form of body-fat. If we lift progressively heavier weights, we will see adaptations in the form of bigger and/or stronger muscles. If we begin a program of aerobic exercise, within the first few weeks we will see physiological changes; lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, lower working heart rate, less post-exercise soreness, decreased recovery time, increased metabolic rate and changes in body composition just to mention a few – all of these being adaptations to the ‘stress’ of cardiovascular exercise. If you train yourself like a distance runner, you ain’t gonna wind up looking like a bodybuilder. Neither will training like Mr (or Miss) Universe turn you into that slender, waif-like running machine.

    When a body changes, there’s a reason. When a body doesn’t change, there’s a reason. And as I’ve said before, we need to learn how to ‘drive’ our body and to discover what works for us (personally). Individual bodies respond differently to the same stimulus, so we need to learn how to maximise our own genetics. Quite often, by being less emotional and more practical and methodical about our approach to exercise, we will achieve far better results in much less time.

    Here’s a few things to consider as you work through the exercise thing…

    1. What works (in terms of creating significant physical change) and what we enjoy doing, are often two different things.

    Yes we want to make exercise fun when possible, but sometimes we need to stop looking for easy and starting doing effective. I don’t particularly enjoy stretching but I can’t improve my terrible flexibility by bench pressing small cars. Heavy sigh. So stretching it shall be for the human ceramic tile. The piece of chalk with hair on top. I might not always love the process, but I really love the results. You might not enjoy lifting weights but you won’t build your upper body strength or achieve that athletic shape you’re after by going for a gentle walk with your neighbor each morning.

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    Mountain bike
      2. Your body will only adapt when it needs to.

      If you constantly stimulate your body the same way day in, day out (same workout, same exercises, same format, same intensity, same weights, same distance, same machines, same duration) it ain’t gonna change ’cause it doesn’t need to. You are following a maintenance program. Give your body a reason to change and it will. Some people have been following the same program for years, all the while wondering why nothing changes. It’s true in life and in the gym; if nothing changes, nothing changes. Progression is good. Variety is good. Change is good.

      3. Over-training.

      Many people simply train so much that their body is in a constant state of disrepair. When you stress an already stressed (over-trained, injured, exhausted) body (via more exercise) you’re setting yourself up for long term problems and frustration.

      Don’t confuse volume with quality. Don’t make emotional decisions about your exercise program. It’s good to train hard (sometimes) and smart. I only lift weights three times per week for forty five minutes, but I’m stronger than most of the twenty three year-old meat-heads who inhabit the weight room seven days per week. Not because I have better genetics or more testosterone (I wish) but because I know what works most effectively for my body (in terms of creating the right balance between training, nutrition and recovery) and I stimulate my physiology the right way. I train optimally for me. Don’t forget… the adaptation takes place when you’re not training. The workout is for the stimulation, the recovery time is for the adaptation.

      4.Going-though-the-motions-itis.

      A little-known scientific term which is Latin for “looks like a workout but isn’t”. It’s a condition where people go to the gym and fluff around for an hour or so without actually doing much. A few chats, a little self-admiration in the mirror, a cappuccino or two and a strategically-placed towel over the shoulder – they’re hard to miss. Every gym has a least ten of them. They are known colloquially in Australia as… wankers. There is also another group of well-meaning people who work out often but simply don’t train hard enough to create the results they’re seeking.

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      Of course we need to train safely and intelligently, and yes we need to develop a training base before we get anywhere near the intense zone, but sometimes we simply need to force our body to adapt. If what you’re doing in your workouts is easy for you, then don’t expect to see much in the way of physiological change. Easy might be fun but it ain’t really productive when it comes to changing a body. If you wanna see some change, get uncomfortable. Often. Don’t kill yourself but don’t avoid the tough stuff either.

      5. All the other stuff.

      Of course there are plenty of variables in the creating-your-best-body process and exercise is just one of them. If you’ve nailed your exercise but your diet is a nightmare (over-eating, under-eating, sporadic eating, poor quality food) your results will be average at best. Other factors which might sabotage or inhibit what you’re doing with your exercise program are: alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, stress and medications. No use training like an Olympian if you’re living a lifestyle which is at odds with your exercise goals.

      If (for example) you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming, you ain’t gonna grow muscle ’cause their ain’t no gas in the tank. Conversely, if you’re consuming more than you’re expending each day, you ain’t gonna get leaner no matter how well you train or how much cardio you do. You’ll be fitter but you’ll still be fat.

      Adult female with personal trainer at gym
        6.The Wrong Program.

        For a wide range of reasons thousands and thousands of people are currently following a program which is less than ideal, if not completely inappropriate for them.

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        Go into virtually any gym and you’ll see dozens of people (with different bodies, goals and needs) all following essentially the same ‘generic’ program. This is called laziness, ignorance, lack of professionalism and I-don’t-really-care, on the part of the instructors who set those programs. If your program wasn’t designed specifically for you (by someone who knows their stuff), then it’s not the best strategy for you.

        That’s not to say that your program is not of any value but why settle for okay, when you can have ideal. Your program should be designed specific to your age, goals, body type, current level of fitness, training history, medical conditions and injuries. If you found your current training program on page seventy two of Buffed and Ripped, then you ain’t doing yourself any favours. Same goes if you got your program from your cousin Guido the panel beater who came second in that bodybuilding show in 1992. The same one who worked in a gym for three months when he was nineteen.

        So… maybe it’s time for some change.

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        Craig Harper

        Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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        Last Updated on November 19, 2019

        20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

        20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

        Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

        If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

        1. Create a Daily Plan

        Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

        2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

        Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

        3. Use a Calendar

        Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

        I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

        Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

        4. Use an Organizer

        An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

        These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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        5. Know Your Deadlines

        When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

        But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

        6. Learn to Say “No”

        Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

        Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

        7. Target to Be Early

        When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

        For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

        Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

        8. Time Box Your Activities

        This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

        You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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        9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

        Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

        10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

        Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

        You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        11. Focus

        Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

        Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

        Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

        12. Block out Distractions

        What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

        I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

        When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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        Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

        13. Track Your Time Spent

        When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

        You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

        14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

        You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

        Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

        15. Prioritize

        Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

        Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

        16. Delegate

        If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

        When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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        17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

        For related work, batch them together.

        For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

        1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
        2. coaching
        3. workshop development
        4. business development
        5. administrative

        I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

        18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

        What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

        One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

        While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

        19. Cut off When You Need To

        The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

        Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

        20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

        Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

        More Time Management Techniques

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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