Tip: Effective Training vs. Circus Acts

Is your workout designed just to make you tired and keep you entertained, or is it designed to make you better? Here's the difference.

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Trendy vs. Effective

As humans our natural tendency is to think anything new is better than anything old. Truth is, the opposite is almost always the case. When it comes to training for body change, what tends to work sticks around for the long run and what's new and trendy comes and goes.

With that in mind, the most overhyped training practices of the past few years have been varied and many. Balance training, metabolic conditioning, interval training, Orange Theory, CrossFit, Soul Cycle, etc.

You might wonder what makes me say this since some of these things are highly beneficial. It's simple. Exercise is not as complex as we want to make it, and at the same time it can bump into each person's metabolic tendencies, psychological sensitivities, and personal preferences.

The smallest things that work are the place to start: walking, running, and lifting. These in combination have been around the longest and work the best, period and end of story. Now certainly depending on your goals you can make these things more efficient. Running can turn into intervals. Lifting and cardio can merge into metabolic conditioning, etc.

We have to be careful not to lose the big picture though. Taken to their extremes, these modalities turn into something that moves so far away from effective training I don't even know what we're doing anymore.

Circus Act or Workout?

Here's an example of recent workout I stumbled into at a new "workout box." First, do 5 power cleans. Now run over here and to 5 pull-ups. Next throw a ball on the wall. Then juggle this rope for a minute. Here's a kettlebell that we haven't used yet... do something with that. Now jump on this a few times. Now do these three other things to keep you entertained and get you breathing hard. Maybe we'll repeat some things but maybe we won't.

Overload? What's that? Progressive resistance? What's that? This workout was more like a circus act. Contrast that with the following workout:

Do some push-ups, do some pull-ups, do some more push-ups, do some more pull-ups. Getting bored? Do some more pull-ups and do some more push-ups. Oh, it's not exciting enough? Do some more push-ups and do some more pull-ups. Oh, you've almost had enough? Your chest is pumped and your back is about to explode? Your muscles are burning and you're breathless? Do some more pull-ups and do some more push-ups. Done. Oh and now do this same workout next week, increasing the volume.

Effective training doesn't change. And the stuff that actually works will be integrated in the long run. That's why new workout programs are rarely where you want to spend your time. Stick with the tried and true.