You can *probably* agree that working out is good for the soul.
You *probably* know that working out is good for your health.
You *probably* even know what goal you want to achieve by exercising.
Hell, you can *probably* agree that working out helps you look better naked.
The point of this post, though, is to figure out where you’re at on the fitness continuum. It may not be your standard “continuum”, but I’m just a fitness guy who likes to write.
Let’s start with the three groups that *most* people start with when beginning to workout:
Start working out because your sport requires it, or, you know that working out will benefit you and make you a better athlete
You know you need to workout for your health so you start a program with health in mind with no real knowledge of why you’re doing what you’re doing
Fat loss could be put in both the health category and the vanity category, but I digress, starting because of vanity would mean that you want to look better plain and simple
You could still be in one of these categories, and that’s fine. Any exercise is better than no exercise.
That is, and always will be true. But, the next step in the fitness continuum is really honing in on your goals and, consequently, choosing the workout program that best suits those goals.
Because if you want to be chiseled for the beach – running a strict powerlifting program isn’t the secret sauce you’re looking for.
Again, any exercise is better than none at all, and you may hit your goals continuing to train the same way. I’m all about efficiency, though, so let’s explore some training styles based on common goals:
Building Muscle –
Bodybuilding Training, Hypertrophy Training, CrossFit
Getting Strong –
Max Strength Training, Strongman Training, Powerlifting
Fat Loss –
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Hypertrophy Training, Sprints, CrossFit, LISS
Getting “Ripped” –
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Hypertrophy Training, Sprints, CrossFit*
Running, Cycling, Rowing, Fortnite bender (kidding)
General Fitness –
Insert any of the above
Mobility/Pain Reduction/FEEL Better –
Hypertrophy Training, Yoga, Kinstretch
Bodybuilding/Physique Show –
Bodybuilding Training (obv)
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Hypertrophy Training, Sprints, CrossFit
“I just want to have beers with the boys and be able to button my shirt” –
Insert any of the above
CrossFit, Group Classes, Aerobics
So, why write this?
Because this stuff takes time, man. I’d hate for you to spend time using a training style that doesn’t mesh with your goals.
You may be thinking, “what if I don’t want to decide?” or “what if I like what I’m doing?” or “you’re not my dad who are you to tell me anything?”.
Well, I’m *probably* not your dad and I’m sure as hell not the best-looking kettlebell on the rack. But, rest assured that I only do this to help you out in any way possible.
You may read this and say, “I’m not changing anything” – and guess what? That’s fine. Conversely you may decide to make a change after this and that’s fine, too.
I just want you to have the information you need to make the best decision for YOU.
Transitioning from just “working out” to using a fitness plan that correlates with your goals will be a game changer for you. The process will still take time, obviously, but, it will undoubtedly take less time than it would if your training style didn’t match your goals.
It’s important to note that there will be a ton of overlap in the above list. Which means that some programs may look a lot alike. So yeah, to some extent “training is training”, but, there’s nothing wrong with training better. You feel me?
Since we are here and defining goals, let’s look at what the training modalities listed above means and what a training program for it may look like for some of them. The list isn’t the end all be all of training so if I’m missing your favorite, my bad.
Hypertrophy is simple: it’s all about increasing muscle size. Sometimes women don’t like to talk about increasing muscle size – because it’ll make them “bulky”, but, you know that “toning” buzz word? All “toning” is, is hypertrophy. 🙂
A lot of us end up here for most of our training careers. We are in a constant pursuit to achieve muscle growth. Hypertrophy training fits well for those who are looking to lose fat because the training will be high enough in volume and will manipulate the heart rate enough to help you lose fat faster, but also maintain/build muscle mass. Hypertrophy training is also good for those wanting to gain weight, especially those who want to gain weight and keep their body fat relatively low.
Bodybuilding doesn’t always have to mean you’re preparing for the stage or for a bodybuilding show, and training like one isn’t exclusive to competition. Bodybuilding type can be worked into any program, especially in the form of accessory work.
Some view bodybuilding negatively, mostly because of the sports connotation with steroid use. But, I know a ton of clean bodybuilders and know even more who utilize this style of training who look great.
Max Strength Training-
Like the name says, Max Strength is all about getting as strong as possible, mainly in the big compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, press etc)
If you want to see what your body can do and to push your limits, max strength training will be your jams. I mean really though, there’s not much better than picking up heavy stuff and putting it down then walking away and being able to saying “yeah I lifted that”, even if its just mumbling it to yourself.
Maximum strength will be different for everyone, obviously, and everyone defines strength differently in general. But for me, there’s nothing better than seeing clients break their own records in the gym.
The pride they feel.
The confidence they gain in themselves.
Man, it gives me goosebumps really. Feeling like a badass after hitting a big lift can carry you through the week.
Strongman training includes many different events across different spectrums of training, most using different objects/apparatus to display insane feats of strength. Some events are geared more toward a max strength/biggest lift and some are more for endurance – while still lifting super heavy stuff. Anyone can train for strongman, though. It’s not exclusive to super big and jacked people.
You know “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones? Well, strongman training is his what he does when he’s not skulldragging folks in GoT. Anyone can do it, but, it will not be an optimal workout for hypertrophy and fat loss. If you like training that is “outside the box”, though, then strongman training is for you.
Max strength and powerlifting are very similar. The difference lies in the fact that with powerlifting, everything you do will be working to increase your competition lifts which are the bench press, deadlift and back squat.
There will be a lot of crossover with the rep schemes of max strength training and powerlifting, but make no mistake, when you’re training to be a powerlifter everything is geared toward getting better at the Big 3 (Bench, Squat Deadlift). From accessory work to (typically) limiting cardio, you’re going to eat sleep and breath the stuff that can improve your total.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)-
HIIT and circuit training are often thought of as the same thing. They’re not.
Yes, circuit training will elevate your heart rate, but, true HIIT is spans of all out intensity for a set number of rounds and is not something that can be sustained for long periods. I’m not about inducing puking, but, HIIT is one way to ensure that you come close every single time if you’re giving 100% effort.
An example could be 20 seconds of work paired with 10 seconds of rest for 5-10 rounds of a given exercise. It could be sprinting, lifting weights or a core movement but rest assured, your heart rate will be ramped up and you’ll be beat once you finish up.
All out sprints are some of the best cardiovascular training you can do, it’s a great way to increase your efficiency and your aerobic base without spending hours doing it. Sprints can also be programmed into a HIIT routine.
Typically sprinting is paired with another form of strength training, but, it doesn’t have to be. If you want to sprint your little heart out and use that as your workout you’ll be way ahead of most. My recommendation though, as with any cardio based goal, is to implement strength training to some degree. Running/Sprinting is very high impact on your joints, ligaments and tendons. A solid strength training program will help to strengthen all of those, and, you’ll look even better to boot.
CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
Look, I have some issues with CrossFIt. But, CrossFit has done more to bring fitness to the forefront of conversations and our daily lives than any other fitness trend ever and I’m not sure there’s one close. The problem lies in that you can get certified in two days, and quite literally apply to be an affiliate on your way home. If a box has good programming and a coach that understands periodization, which CAN be applied in the framework of CrossFit programming, you’re in a good place.
LISS cardio can be done after workouts (although I don’t recommend extended cardio immediately after lifts) or you can have dedicated days/times you perform it. When I’m working with clients I normally try to schedule 1-2 LISS walks/week in conjunction to their scheduled workouts. Increasing your activity outside the gym, whether it’s a dedicated increase with LISS or increasing your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) by moving more throughout the day in general you’ll burn more calories, and burning more calories leads to faster fat loss.
I’ve never been a long distance cardio enthusiast. The “Bro” in me wouldn’t let me do it when I was younger and now, with a wife two kids and a job, endurance training isn’t in the cards right now. You could go for cycling, running, rowing or a combination of any of those here. Maybe sprinting or circuit type training isn’t for you, and if it’s not, that’s fine. Look at endurance type training and just pick the tool you want to implement it with!
If you’re looking for muscular endurance, or just wanting to manipulate your heart rate and stay in and out of the aerobic/anaerobic zone with strength training/workouts you can do that, too. Check out the attached program, it’s great for mixing up your program and building some muscular endurance.
Fortnite bender (kidding)-
A game that commonly causes men to lose their girlfriends because the game gets more attention from the man than they do. (Urban Dictionary)
The word, yoga, comes from the Sanskrit yuj, which means “to yoke.” Thus, yoga is the practice that aims to join the mind, body and spirit.
I think we’ve all head of the mental benefits of yoga as well as the mobility/flexibility benefits of doing it as well. But, one of the most interesting things in the recent research is the connection that yoga can have with your gut health. Doing yoga can help lead to a healthier gut balance which is something that all of us probably need to some extent. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years as more studies are done and published.
Unlike many training systems, KINSTRETCH practice is complete with a self-assessment system allowing you the ability to monitor your own body for dysfunction that may be causing pain, loss of performance, or that may be putting you at an increased chance of injury. (Kinstretch.com)
I’ve taken a kinstretch class, and it was glorious, I was sore no doubt but it was glorious nonetheless. If there is another certification I wanted to get, the FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) would be it. Think of Kinstretch like yoga from a practitioner type viewpoint. You’re looking to find areas of weakness and work on improving them.
If you can take a course from a certified instructor in your area I 100% recommend trying it out.
This can range across many of the modalities listed above. Anything performed as a group, from Hillary’s Reform For Her TRX classes to CrossFit to Jazzercise and everything in between would fall in line with this category. If one of your needs is more social when looking at starting a fitness routine a group class option is, without a doubt, the way to go.
I realize this may seem a little lazy on my part but you can really go any direction you want with group classes. And, to be honest, you can likely find a group class that fits both your goals and social needs.
The key to this whole fitness thing is finding something you like and something you can maintain long term. You may find out that your goals and the optimal training style to meet them isn’t something that you’ll enjoy. You may be cool with taking a bit longer to reach your goals, or maybe it causes you to adjust your goals entirely.
Either way, find something that works for you and try to have some fun while doing it.