Admit it Spark friends, when we were kids, more always meant better.....hell even today how many of us secretly believe that more is better than less....
.....come on raise your hand and admit it!
Many of us are here because more food was always better than less food, more dessert was better than less dessert, more lazing around was better than less lazing around, etc, etc, etc.
Maybe the only thing that contradicted this thought was......
Less exercise was always better than more exercise.....hell, no exercise was just damn fine (at least it was by me, your story may be different.....but was it really?)
Well many years ago, at the tender age of 47, I decided to reverse my body's decline. I stopped smoking and started running. At first I could barely do a 1/4 mile at the track. I huffed and I puffed and slowly began to extend the distance.
Being a lifelong Type A kind of guy, it wasn't long before I got the running bug and decided that if a 3-mile run was good, then 5 miles was better.....but really, I should shoot for 10 miles. But if I was going to do that, why not a half-marathon? Half-marathon? Why the hell not just go for the Full Monty and train for a full marathon.
More is always better than Less
A few years ago I started lifting weights and shifted from Running to Strength Training. I started barely able to squat, press or deadlift 50-100 lbs, then slowly got the hang of it (with the help of a sadistic trainer who had some ties with various former Soviet Block interrogation agencies!). All of that was good, but late last year I decided to take it up a notch and began competing in some Amateur Powerlifting Competitions. The Gold Standard there is to be able to lift over 1000 lbs between squat, bench press, and deadlift.....and I finally achieved that last month (see blog bit.ly/1nD2u5j
More is always better than Less
But a strange thing happened as I trained for my last powerlifting competition......I trained less
I trained for shorter amounts of time and with less weight......but I trained more frequently
Instead of spending 90 minutes in the gym, doing 5 sets of 10 repetitions with various leg exercises, then the next day spending 90 minutes in the gym, doing 5 sets of 10 repetitions with various back exercises, and the next day, spending.......you get the picture
Instead, 3-4 days a week for about 45 minutes, each day I focused doing the exercises that worked the most muscles, but I did only 2 sets of 5 repetitions, and I did them with between 60-80% of my max limits. At the end of each rep, I asked myself, "OK, can you do that again tomorrow?" If the answer was yes, I continued. If the answer was no, I stopped.
Doing it this way, I ended up working out my whole body more frequently during the week, but to keep myself from burning out, I actually dialed the volume down a few notches.
Less heavy, but more frequent workouts......Hmmmm. Could Less be better than More?
Well the results speak for themselves.....In June I lifted 50 more lbs than my previous competition in February and finally crossed the 1000 lb barrier.
So what's my takeaway from all of this? Well I'm an avid reader and researcher, and have been finding plenty of good discussions and experienced people that advocate working out in a sustainable manner, getting away from no pain, no gain, and constant soreness to working out in a manner where you always have some gas left in the tank at the end of a workout, enough so that you can do the exact same workout the next day and the next. Workout just a little less hard, but workout more frequently
Bodybuilders and Olympic Lifters keep pushing the limits because they live in a totally different realm of training and experience.....I am not one of them. I just want to keep getting better and better, and to stay injury free while doing so.
So I'm trying something new....micro-workouts.
Before I get into that, let me say that I fully intend to keep working out in the gym. I've recently fallen in love with Kettlebells (see blog bit.ly/1kJ7CT7
) and so will continue training with them. I'm also going to start back up with the Strength Training in August (I took a 1 month break after June's Powerlifting Competition).
What I'm going to do (I actually started doing this Monday) is to incorporate some micro-workouts into my day.
Here's the deal. I don't know about you all, but I have a job that keeps me seated most of the day. During my morning & afternoon commute, I walk about 15-20 minutes each way. I get up and stretch my legs some during the day, but aside from gym time, I'm pretty sedentary most of the day.
So Monday, I brought my kettlebell and ab wheel to work
For the last 3 days, every hour on the hour (almost), I close the door to my office (yeah, I'm lucky to have an office....this might be tough to do in a cubicle farm) and do 20 one-handed kettlebell swings (10 left and 10 right) and 10 ab roll-outs
These go real fast, less than a minute. They're somewhat intense (explosive is more like it). At the end, my heart rate is up some and I'm breathing a little heavy, but nothing major.
So far so good. I feel good and balanced. My thinking is that 90 minutes of activity in a day, followed by 22.5 hours of sedentary living isn't a good balance. Maybe a little more constant activity spread out through the day is a better way to use our bodies.
Let me know what you think Spark buds, can less can be better than more?
Have a great night!