Efficiency. We all want it. Cars with ever increasing miles-per-gallon. Computer batteries that last longer, on shorter charges. Everything we do, is about completing more work with less effort. Efficiency is the new goal for everything we do. So why isn’t your workout efficient?
Other than knowing nothing about program design (learn HERE) it’s because you do what you see your buddies doing, and follow the 60 year old who benches 315, who’s most likely using chemical help. I can’t tell you how many high school kids I see walk in to the gym and bench, do curls, and leave. Are those REALLY the only muscles on the body? Didn’t think so.
People, we need to train more effiently. One of the biggest reasons that people don’t go to the gym is because they think that they don’t have the time for it. Well usually they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re wasting a bunch of time anyway and actually can dedicate a few hours a week to bettering themselves, but that would require effiecient programming. They need to get the most done in the least amount of time.
The offenses that people make against efficiency are vast in their differences. Daily hour of cardio to lose weight? We know by now that’s not the answer. But even those with good intentions make errors too. We all know that planks are good for us. We also know that we need to work our chest. So even if you want to do your planks as fillers between your bench sets, why don’t you just do pushups? Look at body in a pushup. It’s a dynamic plank!! You get one exercise instead of two. Can you say efficient?! By looking at exercises in this manner, you want to choose the ones that allow you to accomplish the most for the least ammount of time. That being said, you also don’t want to be the person doing single leg squat-thrusters with your foot on a BOSU ball. THAT isn’t efficient, or functional.
If you’re looking to increase effiency, I’ll offer a variety of ways to do so. You don’t need to go out and change everything that you do, but even a slight change can get you better results in a shorter period of time.
As far as conditioning goes, stop doing steady state cardio already. We know it’s not the best. Don’t want to listen to me? Listen to Boyle.
There are mediums of increasing your overall work capacity and G.P.P. (General Physical Preparedness) than spinning your wheels on the treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes. Whether it be metabolic specific training, such as the ones outlined by Coach Robert Dos Remidios in Cardio Strength Training, or reciprocal super sets, which are far more metabolically demanding than ‘traditional’ weight lifting, you’ll have a much more efficient workout.
Check out an example of Coach Dos’ work here.
If you take a completely unbiased approach, it’s very easy to figure out what works the best. Lift weights for 45 minutes + ‘cardio’ for 45 minutes = 90 ineffiecient minutes. However, if you program the right way, you can get it all done in 45 minutes anyway. SO WHY NOT DO IT THIS WAY?!? Well, there are a few reasons. We either can’t see past the training program that we’re currently stuck in, or we refuse to make a change to see the results. I see daily examples of this, from the med school student who is trying to make the transition from sedentary to active by starting to run on the treadmill. Or the college athlete who is injured, but still insists on going on daily runs. What about the girl trying to lose those few stubborn pounds that thinks 45 minutes of cardio a day and a low fat diet will help? Far too many people are failing because they’re going about it in the wrong way!! Even the well-intentioned are ill-informed, and while they get healthier and see results, they are missing out on the most efficient results. There are training modalities where you can in fact have your cake and eat it too! Look in to metabolic conditioning programs. Find a competent strength coach or personal trainer that can do the most for you. You shop for the best deal with your major investments. Why is your health treated differently?! Find the plan that will allow you to be prepared for anything.
While it’s impossible to give one program that would work to meet the goals of every single person, there is a general format you can follow. In his article Training for Actual Results, Brian St. Pierre lays out a simple but killer format that works for the best athletes and fitness enthusiasts in the world. If this type of program design was followed by more people, we’d be a happier and healthier country. Hopefully, as these highly effective training philosophies are disseminated from the elite to the ‘average Joe’, more people will train at the efficiency that is most conducive to the lifestyle they want to lead.