Written by Beau Decourcy
There are a lot of fad exercise programs out there with really complex or sensational names. Many of them subscribe to the idea of “muscle confusion” to achieve a ‘ripped’ or ‘shredded’ body. Unfortunately the only confusion present is in the belief it’s beneficial, or even exists.
How is it that I have done the same five basic, full-body movements and their variations for the last two years and have significantly increased my strength and muscle mass while reducing body fat? Five of the same movements, hell, even in the same order and mostly on the same days! If you subscribe to the fad of muscle confusion: the need for numerous, intense cardio exercises with little rest, then I must be a liar. But if you understand physiology you know I’m speaking the truth.
There’s an underlying theme here at Exist Anew: organic simplicity. We don’t believe there’s any benefit to complicating fitness or nutrition. Keeping things simple allows greater focus of energy on what really matters without stressing over controlling multiple variables. Throw-out the Hollywood workout DVD’s. There are better and more enjoyable uses of your time with greater long-term benefits. Exercise shouldn’t resemble this:
Simple, whole body movements outlined here, allow exercise to strengthen you with a progressive and clear signal to the body. Here lies the problem with the ‘fad’ exercise programs: there is no clear signal or progression. In every attempt to confuse the muscles to adapt, they send a chaotic signal through a myriad of movements; this creates white noise. The nervous system has no clear directive to adapt and increase capacity. Yes, you sweat and get tired and sore, but beyond a limited, basic adaptation, strength progression and workout capacity stops, and in some cases reverses. To worsen the problem, these workouts are often advocated on a nearly, daily basis. Without adequate recovery time, adaptation is stunted.
If you understand one thing about exercise it should be this: exercise is a stress to the body. Muscle, strength, cardiovascular capacity, and most of the fat loss benefits occur after exercise. Exercise, ideally, sends a stress signal to your body and your body realizes its weakness and adapts and rebuilds. It is beneficial to Keep the signal to adapt clear and infrequent enough for the body to respond (at least two full days). Once adapted, send the signal again, only this time a little stronger than the last; this is known as progression. There is no progress gained from confusion.
Picking on these fad workouts may seem harsh because they do work for SOME, for a time. Why? Well, because any movement is better than being sedentary. But they fail to be effective in the long-term. These exhausting, frequent regimens can only be kept up for so long before they get boring and cause mental or physical burnout. They are merely an activity to burn calories with no application to the rest of your life. A progressive and simple strength program builds your capacity for life. It makes life easier, play more enjoyable, and has lasting results in much less time.
So how do I continue to benefit from these same basic movements? Because I don’t want to confuse my muscles, I want to tell them clearly, they need to get stronger and more enduring. I look forward to each time I exercise because I gain a sense of accomplishment, enjoyment and freedom from my increasing capacity. And lastly, I am able to complete effective workouts in a short period of time to leave more time to play and enjoy life.
What has been your experience with fad exercise programs? Do you see yourself still doing them a year from now, or two, or ten years from now?
Exist Anew will be starting a series of outdoor group strength camps this spring. Please email us if you are interested in joining. All levels will be considered, from beginner to advanced.