Everything Works–For Six Weeks–Then It Stops Working
“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”–Charles Kettering
One of the most frequent complaints from gym members and physical therapy patients is that they exercise but see no results. They consistently ride the elliptical, attend yoga class, and run, but make no progress in how they look, move, or feel. The common feature to almost all of these clients is that they have done the same activity at the same intensity for a prolonged period of time. The human body is a master at adaptation and the only way it will change is if you alter your exercise activity on a regular basis.
In athletic training, the planned alteration in training stimulus is called periodization. Periodization is a method of dosing your exercise workloads to promote peak performance. The athlete works at a specific regimen for four to six weeks and then the program is changed before physical adaptation takes place and progress stalls.
Older and more experienced gym goers should alter their fitness routine every three to four weeks. The changes do not need to be major. Increase the weight you lift and lower the number of repetitions–four sets of six repetitions instead of three sets of ten repetitions. Get off the recumbent bike and add some drills to improve your gait and enhance balance. Expand your training tool box and learn how to use a new device– resistance tubing, medicine ball, kettlebell…
For fat loss, choose what strength coach Dan John calls inefficient exercise. Over the weeks and months, the elliptical session you have been performing three days a week burns fewer calories because your body becomes efficient in that activity. Find activities that are unfamiliar or that can be loaded to make them more challenging. At Fenton Fitness, the Jacobs Ladder and rope drills are my first suggestions.
Most programming changes make training more difficult and produce greater delayed onset muscle soreness. This is all part of creating a new stimulus that the body finds challenging. In three or four weeks, the sessions will be less demanding and you will be ready for another alteration in the training cycle.
Change is good but frequently neglected. The best results have come with regular alterations of fitness programming. Remember that change can also be a period of rest.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Small Steps Can Lead To Big Changes
Nutrition Basics by Sarah Hall, B.S.
Nutrition, like many things in life, is not black or white. There are few things that we know fairly certainly like, trans fats are bad, but Omega-3 fats are good. Aside from that, the information that we are bombarded with from magazines to television shows is full of contradictions and it is always changing. From the grapefruit diet, to cleanses, even the cotton ball diet (what?!), all promising the same thing: immediate, easy weight loss and an instant six pack.
In reality, there is no magic diet and what works for some may not work for others. It is important that you are your own best advocate and don’t fall victim to trends that end up doing more harm than good. Whatever your health goals are, whether it’s gaining muscle mass, losing weight, or simply maintaining, your nutrition plays a large role.
With this blog, I hope to give some insight into the big world of nutrition with snippets on the latest research, recipes, and helpful tips that will allow you to be your best. It doesn’t have to be an extreme change in your lifestyle to see results. Small successes will add up along the way to a healthier and stronger you.
A great place to start making small changes is with the snacks that we eat in between meals. Your next meal isn’t for a few hours, but you are already hungry. Instead of reaching for that bag of potato chips, have your fridge stocked with pre-washed and pre-cut fruits and veggies that are ready for you at an instant. Or try this recipe from the American Heart Association that will surely satisfy your hunger pangs.
Grab-n-Go Snack Mix
1 tsp. canola or corn oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup shelled unsalted pumpkin seeds
¾ to 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
2 cups multigrain or whole-wheat cereal squares with maple syrup and brown sugar
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries or cherries
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the honey for 2 minutes, or until it just comes to a boil.
Stir in the walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and pie spice. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mixture begins to turn golden, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
Immediately stir in the cereal and dried fruit until well coated, about 30 seconds.
Pour onto the baking sheet, using the back of a spoon to quickly spread in a smooth, thin layer. Sprinkle with the salt. Let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
Break into 1-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Sarah Hall, B.S.. Trainer at Fenton Fitness & Athletic Center
Everything Works–For Six Weeks
“The world hates change, but it is the only thing that has brought progress.”–Charles Keating
One of the most frequent complaints from gym members is that they exercise but see no results. They ride the elliptical, lift weights, and Zumba three days a week, but they make no progress in how they look, move, or feel. The common feature to almost all of these clients is that they have done the same activity at the same intensity for a prolonged period of time. The human body is a master at adaptation, and the only way it will change is if you alter your exercise activity on a regular basis.
Novices can stay on the same exercise program for eight to twelve weeks and still see results. More experienced trainees should alter their routine every three to four weeks. Increase the weight you lift and lower the number of repetitions–four sets of five repetitions instead of three sets of eight. Add in some balance challenging single leg training and discontinue the bilateral exercises you have used since high school. Take a month and work diligently on improving a movement pattern that gives you difficulty. If your conditioning is below average, program in a series of high intensity sled activities for four weeks.
Most programming changes make training more difficult and produce greater delayed onset muscle soreness. This is all part of creating a new stimulus that the body finds challenging. In a few sessions, the soreness will be gone. In three or four weeks, the sessions will be less demanding and you will be ready for another alteration in the training cycle.
Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts would do well with taking two or three weeks away from training and focus on recovery and regeneration activity. Elite athletes often schedule two or three periods of recovery into their yearly training plans. Do not lift any weights, run, jump, or compete for a period of time. Get plenty of sleep, and spend that time working on your soft tissue restrictions by using a foam roller or massage stick every day. If you have tight hips, shoulders, or thoracic spine, dedicate this time to restoring motion at the restricted area. A fourteen day rest period is often enough time to permit full physical recovery, but not so extended that you lose strength or endurance. With full recovery, all systems will be able to respond much better once you return to training.
Change is good, but frequently neglected. The best results will be produced with regular alterations of fitness programming. See our trainers for information on a Functional Movement Screen Assessment and training program design.
Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS