Weight training is the exercise modality par excellence!

Weight training vs. Crossfit, Boot Camps, TRX, etc.

CrossFit is a high-intensity, high-impact exercise type of training modality. With CrossFit you must complete a certain number of exercises as many times as you can in a certain amount of time. Or you must perform five exercises in a sequential order for a certain number of sets for a certain number of repetitions each. For example, do as many burpees as you can in 8 minutes; perform squats, sit-ups, push-ups, rows, and burpees 3 sets of 10 repetitions each with as much intensity as you can; do 3 sets of 12 front squats with a barbell, 10 pull-ups and 8 push presses as rapidly as possible, and finish up with a quarter-mile run. TRX can also be a high-impact type of training modality because a lot of people cannot properly align their joints in a successful manner to do some of the exercises safely and effectively with little or no help from the instructor in regard to form. This can cause a lot of joint stress and subsequent joint issues.

Intensity is defined as "time under tension"

Most people speak of “high-intensity” as if it is a quick-paced workout with training intervals or a workout that incorporates a lot of heavy lifting with little attention on form and muscle fiber stimulation. Historically, high-intensity is more fine-tuned than that. Originally, high-intensity training was a form of strength training popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones and focused on performing quality weight training repetitions to the point of momentary muscular failure. This is done by placing the muscle under constant tension during an amount of time it takes the muscle to fatigue. This specific time under tension yields the greater amount of muscle stimulation at a given time and forces the muscle to fatigue quicker to muscle failure, which forces the muscle to adapt, get stronger, and grow, granting that supercompensation has occurred through sufficient recuperation. The process of “high-intensity” training that yields muscular growth is: (1) proper joint alignment, (2) good form, (3) isolating the muscle, (4) time under tension, (5) muscle failure, (6) muscle adaptation, and (7) muscle growth.

Fail early, fail often, fail forward

Will Smith has said that people usually have a negative relationship with failure. Failure is a huge part of being able to be successful. You must get comfortable with failure. You must actually seek failure. Failure is where all of the lessons are learned. When you go to the gym and workout you are actually seeking failure. You want to take your muscles to the point where they get to failure because that is where the adaptation is, where growth is. Successful people fail a lot, but they extract the lessons from failure and they use the energy and the wisdom to come around to the next phase of success. You have to live where for almost certain you are going to fail. Practice is controlled failure, whereby you are reaching your limit when you can’t lift that weight until you get to the point all of a sudden that your body makes the adjustment when you can do it. Failure helps you recognize the areas where you need to evolve. Fail early, fail often, fail forward.

An exercise program should emphasize enjoyment, low-pact, good form

If people enjoy a quick-paced workout with little attention to form, well…I most certainly do not, if joint alignment is ignored and intensity does not at least meet half-way for time under tension. I took a Boot Camp class in the beginning of the year early in the morning for a week and a half for five 30-minute sessions. It was short, intense and sweet. However, even though I saw noticeable results I stopped because I got burned out. It wasn’t fun. It did not meet my criteria of exercise fun, safety and intensity. There are three things that CrossFit or Boot Camp training classes fail to satisfy for most people: enjoyment, low-impact, and good form.

These three things go hand-in-hand if your goal is to exercise long-term, stay injury free, and make it a part of your lifestyle. It is true that moving quickly between exercises is important for high-intensity training to increase the calorie and fat burn during and after exercise, but not at the expense of improper form that can lead to injuries by going too quick and using a weight resistance (one’s body weight alone) that is too heavy over time (e.g., box jumps, burpees, kettlebell swings, etc. are all high-impact modality exercises). People quit these types of classes and sabotage their fitness because they can no longer exercise due to developing knee injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, ankle injuries, and even plantar fasciitis!

The "calorie burn" depends on not what kind but HOW you exercise

People are mistaken about weight training saying that it won’t give them the calorie burn like CrossFit. The mistake rests on an image about how weight training is conventionally performed, i.e., “anaerobically.” This means a type of exercise that does not use oxygen and does not improve the body’s cardiovascular system. I am approached frequently by people who ask me which cardio machine is better to burn more calories. First, people shouldn’t be looking to burn more calories on a machine because a machine does not know how efficiently or inefficiently their body burns calories. Second, people should be focused on creating a longer after burn after they finish exercising so their bodies can burn more calories after exercise, even at rest! This can only be accomplished by keeping the exercise intense enough for 20-30 minutes. And a shorter duration means a higher intensity. And third, my response is always, “It’s not what you do that helps you burn calories, but HOW you do it.” Don’t leave it up to a certain machine thinking it will burn the calories for you; it’s up to you how you use it!

Self-discipline brings dreams into fruition

A lot of people do not know how to exercise. One of my pet peeves is people confusing work with exercise as an excuse NOT to exercise. Exercise means elevating your heart rate and keeping it elevated in a certain “heart rate training zone” for at least 20 minutes or knowing your average in that heart rate training zone during the exercise duration. Exercise is hard work, and like a lot of things if we want to get somewhere, to succeed, it requires self-discipline. Will Smith talks about self-discipline as self-love. When you say you love yourself that means you have behavior towards yourself that is loving. You say to yourself I know you want to eat that pizza and you know it will taste good, but I can’t let you do that because I love you too much. It is not discipline in the sense of punishment, but discipline in the sense that you forgo immediate pleasure for the exchange of long-term self-respect. At the center for bringing any dream into fruition is self-discipline. It is getting command of your mind for choosing actions in your own best interest. Choosing to exercise is in your best interest! Choosing a safe exercise modality is in your best interest! Choosing to stay committed is in your best interest! You cannot win the war against the world if you cannot win the war against your own mind. When you get command of your mind, your body will follow your mind, and you will know how to exercise, and with practice you will know how to exercise well, i.e., burn more calories and create a longer after burn, and in the process SWEAT!

A viable exercise program will be fun, safe and long-term

What shall we say about weight training that can give you a calorie burn like CrossFit? Well, like the cardio machines example above, it’s HOW you weight train. Weight training is low-impact because you control your environment with your mind so your body follows your own motions with the weight you are resisting that is performed in a controlled manner, going to a controlled failure for adaptation and growth! That brings me to an important point: high-intensity weight training is not based on the amount of weight used but how well your form is when you perform each rep of each set of the exercise! So, it is up to you to how to weight train with a full range of motion in a controlled manner while maintaining good form for training at high-intensity!

Make weight training your choice of cardio to lose weight and build muscle!

At the beginning of this year I went on a fat loss program. I lost 17 pounds of fat while maintaining strength and muscle in 16 weeks by using a full-body weight training routine whereby I completed 35 sets in 45 minutes. You can check it out on my success page. I trained lower body first, since it requires more energy and is more calorie burning than the upper body. First, I’d warm-up on the bike at level 15 for 2 1/2 minutes while maintaining a 90-95 RPM range to get my heart rate up over 140 and get my quads pumped and heavy. Then, I super-set squats and deadlifts; super-set hamstrings and leg extensions; and super-set calves and abs.

arm kranker.jpg

Next, for upper body, I’d warm-up on the arm kranker at high for 2 1/2 minutes to pump up my chest, shoulders, back and arms. (BTW: Every gym ought to have at least one of these awesome upper body cardio machines to get the upper body tight and toned and pumped up as a warm-up and warm-down! It boggles my mind that most gyms don't have one.) Then, I burn-set dumbbell flys with dumbbell chest press; burn-set cable rows with stiff-arm pulldowns; burn-set front raises with rotator cuff raises; and finally, super-set barbell curls and tricep pushdowns. Last, I’d warm-down on the bike at level 15 for 2 1/2 minutes while maintaining a 90-95 RPM range to get my heart rate up over 140, sometimes over 150. The next day, my cardio routine consisted of doing three difference cardio machines for 20 minutes each having a system of intensity whereby I would pace myself for that length of time. I performed this routine EVERY DAY by alternating between the weights and cardio. My training journal records 79 days straight! I didn’t overtrain and I didn’t burnout because my body would’ve told me. My average sustained heart rate of my maximum during workouts was 85%, which is well into the aerobic or cardio zone for more than 20 minutes! So, who says “weight training isn’t cardio?” And who says you “can’t workout every day” for at least 45-minutes?