Candy, Conches, and Training Programs

Show of hands:  Who watched the second presidential debate last night?  I put it on as soon as I was home so I could better understand some of the issues, and watch grown men point fingers and insult each other in the name of the greater good. It was certainly a heated debate, and at times I suspected an Alexander Hamilton- Aaron Burr duel to erupt.

Alright, so we weren’t about to witness a duel, but I’m glad that Candy “Conch Shell” Crowley helped prevent any flintlock pistol usage amongst the candidates.  Perhaps both men should make campaign stops to their high school English teachers for a refresher on the civility, or lack there of, in Lord of the Flies.  Perhaps they were busy studying for AP Government in 11th grade, but it was apparent that they needed Candy to keep order.  There was none of this last night:

There were moments last night when I felt that politics in the United States are devolving to be those that motivated our Founding Fathers in the first place.  Then, there were moments where I felt that we truly have progress, and while I’m glad Candy kept everyone on track, perhaps smashing the Conch Shell is progress.  Last night both candidates were hell bent on disproving the other, laying out their own successes, and attracting the undecided voters.  The ensuing (organized) chaos was just like the fitness world.

The fitness world is pretty damn political, with ‘parties’ who are affiliated with different training mentalities, ‘lobbyists’ who thrive on the success of a product or affiliate links, and there are the exercise physiologists who do important research, typically scoffed at by the elitists in any given party.  It becomes rather difficult for trainers and lay people to navigate the thousands of articles, theories, and products that are available to determine what is best.  How the hell do you figure it all out?

Regardless of goal, there are several things I think every program should include.  There are several exceptions, but they are far and few between.  If your program doesn’t include a level of focus on each of these, you’re getting duped by the creator, be it you, your highly educated friend, or the friend that you like to workout with.

Warm-Up & Recovery is seldom discussed in our caffeine fueled, badass-loving society.  Time will catch up with the folks that are too cool for warming up, or don’t take deload weeks, and I’m sure you want to avoid an injury.  Take the time to foam roll, complete 10-15 minutes of mobility and corrective exercises before you get into the meat of your training.  Your body will thank you for it.

Additionally, take the time to warm-up just for the hell of it.  Perhaps the morning after you train hard you spend 10 minutes ‘warming-up’ for the day to help reduce soreness, or during a deload week you spend an hour addressing any areas that feel tight, and just moving around.  Moving well is important, because it reduces injury risk and better prepares you for your training.

Movement is an integral part of every training program.  Over the course of the workout, you should be bending, squatting, pulling, pushing, lifting, shifting, reaching, throwing, skipping, jumping, crawling…you should be moving.  These patterns should be the majority of your workout, and full body, compound movements, moving through large ranges of motion, will give you the best bang-for-your-buck possible.

Here are some ideas from a MovNat class, which is certainly eye opening for those of us who are frequently in commercial gyms:


Strength is underrated in mainstream fitness.  Sure, it’s discussed, but usually as an aside, less important than the latest “get slim” or “get big” systems that (may) include gimmicky variations. We forget that it will always help to get strong.  Those movements you’re focusing on?  Get strong with ’em!

Conditioning can become very diverse, based on what exactly you’re training for, but be sure to include high intensity, medium intensity, and low intensity activity in your programming.  It may seem like a lot, but it’s relatively simple.  If your training sessions includes pairs of exercises, you’re likely going to be in your ‘aerobic fitness’ zones, so doing cardio on top of that would be redundant.  Rather, make sure you include between 5-15 minutes of interval based conditioning throughout your workout, as well as some sort of walking at some point in the day.

In conjunction, they serve to improve improve body composition, and physical and mental health.  Most of the time, you’ll enjoy going for walks more if it’s with your significant other, dog, or with friends.  Don’t think of it as exercise; Think of it as feel-good time.  If your doing your interval training correctly, that will be exercise and feel-crappy time.

Your training should include proper time to warm-up and move well, a focus on moving throughout your training session, and appropriate levels of high intensity and low intensity conditioning activities.  After you wade through the sea of products and advertisements, it comes down to balancing sound exercise physiology and what is most appropriate for your brain and body, so you can work smarter before you work harder.

Now, let’s discuss it.  Is there anything I left out, or included that was unnecessary?  Let me know in the comments below!

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