So many fitness philosophies and training styles circulate through the industry that, at times, it can be hard to decipher the good from the bad. But what if I told you that none of these viewpoints were bad, per say, and that each one of them was just different. That each would simply produce a different outcome with respect to its effect on the human body. There are very clear parameters guiding the many fitness adaptations that you seek. You must determine whether or not your current training regimen is suitable for your current fitness goal. After all, you are what you repeatedly do.
In the kinesiology realm, the SAID principle labels the relationship between training and adaptation. SAID, or specific adaptations to imposed demands, is textbook jargon for my philosophy, “you are what you repeatedly do”. Hence, if you consistently strength train, you will be strong, and so on and so forth. Your training and nutrition will determine your body composition, athletic performance, and overall health. Understanding this fundamental fitness concept will open your eyes to your potential for success. At the end of the day, you sculpt your own physique.
Opening your eyes to the surrounding industry will aid you in your understanding of the SAID principle. You can learn a lot by observing the physiques and performance capabilities of athletes. Bodybuilders, for example, are aesthetic oriented. They typically train using muscular hypertrophy methods and follow very meticulous clean eating programs. As a result, bodybuilders are the leanest, most muscularly defined athletes on the planet. Contrarily, other athletes train and eat using other methods with performance goals in mind. Long duration athletes train to enhance essential intra-sport qualities characterized by varying degrees of power and endurance, while power lifters train to increase maximal relative strength and are required to lift heavy loads over very short durations. Ultimately, you are a product of your fitness lifestyle. You must eat and train like the athlete of your dreams to look and perform like such.
So, what if a competitive male power lifter trained like a long duration cyclist two months before an important power lifting meet? Without a doubt, he would not perform well at all. There is a clear disconnect between the athlete’s needs for success and his training methods. In layman’s terms, he is setting himself up for failure by training his body for endurance and not strength. Essentially, the power lifter will never use his newly acquired endurance capabilities competitively and will notice a decrease in performance characterized by diminishing strength.
Although this example of misuse is obvious and easy to understand, exercise misapplication continues to ravage through today’s gyms like wild fire. From cardio bunnies seeking fitness model physiques, to athletes pursuing strength through high volume/ low intensity training programs, the 21st century fitness industry is more misguided now than ever before. Chances are, that $9.99 hand held shaking device will not cut it for “toning” your arms and shoulders, nor will those 2 lbs. dumbbells you curl while riding the elliptical. You must learn to identify your goal, attack it with proven training methodologies, and ignore popular fitness advertising terms like, “tone”, “firm”, “lift”, and “tighten”. All things considered, you exercise for four reasons- to increase your lean muscle mass, to decrease your body fat, to enhance some aspect of your athletic performance, or to improve your general healh.
There is not necessarily a right or a wrong way to exercise. Rather, there are right and wrong ways to train for your specific goal: If you want to lose weight, then train for fat loss; if you want to put on size, then train for hypertrophy; if you want to increase your maximal strength, then strength train. But, you cannot exercise for goal “A” and expect to achieve adaptation “B”. For example, you cannot skip weight training, do “cardio” five days a week, and expect to increase your body’s lean muscle mass. You adapt based on the type and the amount of stress you place on your body. Doing “cardio” will do nothing for increasing your lean muscle mass and will, in fact, decrease your muscle mass over time. If your goal, however, is to train for a half marathon, then those five days of cardio may well suit your training needs. Think long and hard before you step foot into the gym tomorrow and determine if whether or not what you are doing is appropriate for what you desire. When all is said and done, you are what you repeatedly do.