We were asked to create an impromptu speech on the topic of ‘Brains vs. Brawn’ today in my public speaking class. Now, while it’s not something we think about frequently, I think it’s something that’s important for us all to consider. The time when I consider it the most is when it comes to exercise design. Programming is key; you can’t get around poor workout planning. Short term, you might get by, but on a longer time line you’ll cease to see results. Now why am I bringing this up? Because for exercise programming, (which usually carries over to life in general), we need to consider efficiency. Why work harder when you can work smarter? It’s ironic, but for maximum results from any training routine, we need brains before we have the brawn.
Now, the simplest way to worker smarter is by increasing your efficiency. By this, I mean getting the most results with the least amount of work. I don’t mean with some magic machine or exercise. I mean by doing less overall work in your workout. Work would be defined as reps x sets x load. How can you reduce this? It’s pretty simple actually.
I may sound like a broken record, but I still have to say it. Compound movements. Train them. Your body isn’t a bunch of parts that work independently. It’s an entire mechanism, made up of mechanisms, that functions synergistically. So train it that way. What does this mean? Somebody, usually a high school junior reading Flex Magazine, wants to get bigger. He says ‘I need to do dumbbell flies, shoulder raises, tricep extensions…what else?’ Well, seeker of information, to make this quest the most efficient…do pushups. You’re working your chest, shoulders, and triceps just like you wanted, but you’re also working the vast majority of your upper body (pushing) and core (stablizing). So, you’re getting much more bang for your buck. You’ll spend less time at the gym for the same amount of results, or get more results for the amount of time you spend in the gym. Kaching.
Many people, including the high school juniors I mentioned, usually soccer moms concerned with their inner thighs, and the meatheads who train for the pump before they go out at night…Sorry, but it’s true…spend far too much time working at undesireable levels of efficiency. Regardless of the reason, lest it be ignorance to what they could be doing better, they should be making changes. And hopefully somebody fills them in sooner rather than later, and they can learn how to do chin-ups instead of doing their 5th set of dumbbell curls for the day. Deadlift instead of doing leg extensions, leg curls, abduction, adduction, and glute machines.
WHAT?! You can only do a handfull of exercises and see amazing results?! Yes. If you train smart. If you train efficiently. If you train smarter before you train harder, you’ll win the battle of Brains Vs. Brawn. By having both.
And if you don’t train smart, you’ll be judged by this girl, both because you’re not efficient, and because she can out lift you.