الأربعاء، 2 نوفمبر، 2016

8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

Learn my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.



In several previous Get-Fit Guy episodes, I’ve introduced the concept of “Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands,” also known as the “SAID” principle in exercise science.
For example, in the episode “How To Get Better Results From Weightlifting,” you learn that the SAID principle means that your body will eventually get used to the type of workouts you do, including the load you place on your body, the angle at which that load is placed, your level of fatigue or balance or cognitive challenge when carrying that load, etc. For this reason, it’s important to vary your training as much as possible. While you can achieve this variety by doing some slow cardio workouts, some higher intensity cardio intervals, some cross-training with sports like swimming, soccer or tennis, some
explosive weight training, some regular speed weight training, some super slow training, and more, here are my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.

1. Static Balance --> Dynamic Balance --> Loaded Balance

This first tip is a perfect example of this type of balance progression: stand on one foot. Got it? Good. That’s static, unmoving balance and it’s not too complex, right? Next stand on one foot but add dynamic balance, such as a bosu ball, wobbly board, foam mat, or other unstable device. Then finally, stand on one leg in a dynamic balance situation, and add load, such as a dumbbell overhead press. This progression might begin with a single leg balance feeling difficult for you, but eventually gets to the point where that single leg static balance is easy, and the other moves build in complexity to ensure you gradually build balance all year long.

2. Low Speed --> High Speed

When you lift weights at a slow and controlled speed, you primarily utilize Type 1 slow-twitch muscle fibers, and don’t tax your nervous system quite as heavily. But at the same time, you neglect fast-twitch muscle utilizing, high speed, explosive components of fitness that build your neuromuscular power. To overcome this issue, you can take exercises that you normally do very slow and controlled and do them explosively instead. This would include moves such as progressing from a regular pushup to instead performing a powerful, explosive clap pushup, a regular squat to a jump squat or a benchpress to a medicine ball throw.

3. Open Eyes --> Closed Eyes

You’d be surprised at how much an exercise changes in terms of everything from balance to body awareness to conscious muscle utilization when you lift weights with your eyes closed versus your eyes open. For example, you can take a simple exercise such as a barbell squat, and simply do it with your eyes closed, focusing on hip and hamstring utilization. Or, for something more complex, you can take any balance exercise, such as a single legged squat, and do it with your eyes closed instead of eyes open. Just don’t collide into any people or objects at the gym!

4.  Without Load --> With Load

This modification is relatively straightforward. Obviously you can progress from a push-up to a benchpress or a body weight squat to a weighted squat or body weight lunge to a weighted lunge, etc. But there are some exercises you may have never have thought about loading. Take a front plank for example. Too easy? Put on a weighted vest or a weight plate on your back. Try holding dumbbells for a stairclimber or steep treadmill incline walk. When you go on a hike, put a kettlebell in your backpack. You get the idea! This is especially important if you’ve lost a lot of fat, because your body doesn’t have to work quite as hard, especially during body weight exercises, to carry it’s own weight around.

5. Slow --> Fast Stretch Shortening Cycle (e.g. pausing beween reps vs very short pause)

When you finish a repetition—such as jumping into the air or doing a dumbbell curl—there is a perceptible pause between each repetition. This is called the “stretch-shortening cycle” or SSC, and you can either spend a long time in the SSC or train your ability to be explosive and exhaust the muscle and nervous system slightly more quickly by reducing the period of time spent during this SSC. For example, when you run, you can run at 90 steps per minute instead of 80 steps per minute. When you do a series of jump squats or jump lunges, you can rest as little as possible between each rep, essentially “decreasing ground contact time.” When you do a series of overhead presses, you can reverse the direction of the weight and press it straight overhead as soon as it gets down to your shoulders.

6.  Without Decision Making / Cognitive Load --> With Decision Making / Cognitive Load (e.g. fast feet in place vs. fast feet on ladder)

Making your brain work during exercises can certainly introduce a complexity component, and for this, you can add decision making or a cognitive load into your exercises. For example, rather than simply “sprinting” from point A to point B, you can set up a series of cones in a square shapped pattern and sprint from the middle of the square to the upper right cone, then to the lower left cone, back up to the upper left cone, and then back down to the lower right cone, returning to the middle after each cone sprint. Or, you can go on a mountain bike ride on an unpredictable trail instead of a road bike ride on smooth flat road. Or throw a medicine ball using a chest pass to a partner as that partner moves in an unpredictable pattern from side to side.

7.   Without Fatigue --> With Fatigue

Of course, if you “pre-load” a muscle group with lactic acid, lack of oxygen or storage sugar (glycogen) depletion, an exercise becomes more difficult and your body has to work harder and become more fit to move while fatigued. Try a series of pushups before you do the benchpress or any other chest pressing exercise. Or do a back to back swimming to weight training workout. Or do a series of weighted crunches before you do a front plank hold. Just be careful that if you are fatigued you are not sacrificing your form and proper biomechanics to push through the exercise.

8.  Non-Complex & Unloaded --> Complex and Loaded

Finally, here is one final tip: use movement progressions to go from non-complex and unloaded to complex and loaded. What does this mean exactly? The idea of a movement progression is that you progress your movements from easier to harder versions.
For example, to “progress” a deadlift you would start with a body weight “hinge”—simply reaching down by hinging at the waist, picking an imaginary object off the ground and standing up (try high rep body weight with this exercise, such as 30 repetitions, and you’ll see that it can actually be a bit taxing on your fitness!). Next you would progress to a dumbbell deadlift, then eventually to a barbell deadlift without weight, and then a barbell deadlift with weight.
Here’s another example: you can progress from a body weight hinge to a kettlebell clean, then to a barbell hang clean, and then to a loaded barbell hang clean. If you don’t know what a “clean” is, watch this video.
Then there’s the squat. You can probably imagine how you could progress this one, right? Start with a body weight squat, then move to a goblet squat, then to a barbell squat without weight, and then finally a loaded barbell squat.
You get the idea! Avoid doing the same exercises in the same way all year long, and it will pay big dividends in your fitness and in your ability to push through the “SAID” principle ceiling!


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