Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are You An Exerciser Or An Athlete - Part I

By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS

Director, Staley Training Systems

Probably 90 percent of all American adults are sedentary, fat, and/or just generally soft and out of shape. The fact that you're reading this probably means you're in the remaining 10 percent, which is to your credit.

When I look at the active minority however, it's clear that 90 percent of them are what I call "exercisers." Allow me to explain and define:

Exercisers want to look better, and despite years of neglect and bad habits, they want it yesterday. They try to achieve this end through manipulating the law of thermodynamics. Eat fewer calories, burn more calories. In other words, create a caloric deficit and (hopefully) lose weight and be somebody.

Athletes want to perform better, and despite years of hard training, they still see new PR's in their future. They achieve this end through consistent and progressive training, directed toward a competitive goal

Most exercisers assume that the more an exercise hurts, the more calories it must burn, and therefore, the better it is for you. Similarly, exercisers assume the worse a food tastes, the better it is for you, and if you buy into the law of thermodynamics, it's not hard to see the kernel of truth in this assumption.

Ultimately, being an exerciser is a hard way to go. The exerciser lifestyle is about denial, self-loathing, and guilt.

You've got to make sure you put in enough punishment on the treadmill, and you've also gotta make sure you never eat anything that tastes good. No wonder people hate exercise as much as they hate dieting. I happen to hate both practices myself.

There is a better way however, and that better way is to adopt the mindset and lifestyle of an athlete. Athletes, don't exercise, they train. They don't diet; they refuel. They don't avoid, they seek. If you go into any Olympic weightlifting club, you'll notice that they don't do exercises, they do "the lifts." (meaning, the snatch and clean & jerk). In fact, most weightlifters refer to their workouts as "practices" as in "I'm going to practice."

Exercisers are perpetually trying to "lose weight." When a wrestler or MMA competitor needs to drop weight for a competition, they call it "cutting." Notice how the former sounds negative and reactive, while the latter sounds positive and proactive?

The biggest problem associated with having an "exerciser" mindset is that it compels people to make exercise choices that are contradictory to speed, strength, power, and generally, Type IIB physiology. Here's an example:

You read an article about "time under tension," and since the author is a world-famous strength coach, you decide to give it a shot. On your next workout you decide to squat using a "4-1-2" tempo, meaning a 4-second descent followed by a 1-second pause, and finally, a 2-second ascent. You quickly learn that "TUT" is a very painful experience, and since you associate pain with gain, you're hooked.

It's not until 3-4 weeks later however, that you begin to realize that your agonizingly painful squat routine hasn't put any beef on your quads or hams, and as far as strength goes, you actually feel weaker!

Any motor-learning professor could tell you why...your 7-second reps dramatically reduce the tension on your working muscles, which in turn reduce Type IIB (fast twitch) fiber recruitment in favor of more slow twitch motor units. This sucks, because now you're weaker and slower.

You might assume that the athletic lifestyle is beyond your reach. But being an athlete isn't the exclusive domain of elite performers. In fact, quite the contrary: by strict definition, most athletes are not elite! Instead, being an athlete is a lifestyle and a perspective. It's the way you go about business in the gym. It's a professional attitude, as opposed to an amateur one.

The exerciser does it because he has to; the athlete does it because he wants to.

Making the transition from exerciser to athlete is simple, but not necessarily easy. In the next part of this series, I'll present 5 Critical Practices that'll help you make the switch.

About The Author

Charles strength/performance coach...his colleagues call him an iconoclast, a visionary, a rule-breaker. His clients call him “The Secret Weapon” for his ability to see what other coaches miss. Charles calls himself a “geek” who struggled in Phys Ed throughout school. Whatever you call him, Charles’ methods are ahead of their time and quickly produce serious results.

Click here to visit Charles' site and grab your 5 FREE videos that will show you how to literally FORCE your body to build muscle, lose fat and gain strength with "Escalating Density Training," Charles' revolutionary, time-saving approach to lifting that focuses on performance NOT pain.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lack of Energy?

Recently I began interning for a bootcamp exercise program and one of the things I hear most from newbies is that in the past they haven't been motivated to exercise because they are just too tired.

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints and symptoms that doctors hear from their patients. Patients think that there is something wrong with them because they are so tired all of the time, when in fact there is nothing wrong with them at all!

The real reason that these people are so exhausted is because they actually don't exercise enough!

According to WebMd and an a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2008, University of Georgia researchers found that inactive individuals who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.

This means by simply taking a stroll around the block after work when all you feel like doing is grabbing the remote, you will become more energized and focused to take on all those tasks you "have been too tired" to complete...sound familiar?

I for one have been meaning to clean out my refrigerator for quite a few days....

While it seems reasonable that exercise makes us tired, that is actually false. Our muscles may become fatigued after very strenuous exercises, however upon completion our endorphins are racing and our bodies actually adapt and meet the expectations of our muscles by becoming stronger.

Tomorrow I will go into exercises to energize us and exercises that are particularly good for women :)

Have a great day and don't forget to keep moving for increased energy!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living Fit For Life has begun!!!

Hi Everyone!

My name is Ashley and I am a recent college graduate and former collegiate runner. I am extremely passionate about living a fit and healthy lifestyle and would like to pass my knowledge and passion on to you!

Please let me know if you have any specific questions concerning anything from student-athlete life to healthy family living and even healthy living into your 'empty nesting' phase of life (which my parents are beginning to experience and have offered me countless advice on)!

I am currently building my knowledge base on any and all topics concerning nutrition, fitness, motivation, physiology, psychology, and how the human body and mind works.

The main reasons that I am so passionate about these topics is based on my personal experience and struggles with striving to be the very best in everything I did. As I entered college I quickly found that perfection is impossible and fell into an all or nothing attitude. If I couldn't be the best then I may as well let everything go and sabotage myself. This way of thinking certainly did not help me and led me to spiral into a self destructive and unhappy way of living. Thus, I believe it is now my duty to help others who may struggle the way that I did and help them to realize that balanced healthy living is possible!

I hope you enjoy my blog and find it helpful!

"I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me."

Stay centered, keep moving, and love yourself,