sticking to a program

Getting More Out Of Exercising Less

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“Instead of trying to find how much exercise we can tolerate, we should try to find out how little exercise we actually require” ~ Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus and MedX exercise equipment.

Jones further stated that any exercise beyond what is required is at best a waste of time and at worst dangerous.  It is dangerous because too much exercise can result in injuries and a waste of a time because exercise beyond what is required eventually leads to overtraining.  Overtraining occurs when your body cannot sufficiently recover and make gains.  This is particularly the case with strength training, as it takes longer time to recover and rebuild from your last training session.

If you start from the premise of finding out how little exercise you actually require you won’t overtrain, your likelihood of injury will drop considerably, and you will be far less likely to quit as it will require a smaller time commitment.  You will find the weekly improvement motivating as well. With more rest and recovery (and less time in the gym) you will get more benefits by exercising less.

The type of exercise that, by far, has the biggest positive impact on your bio-markers of aging is strength training. In addition to increasing strength the exercise program at our Austin Personal Training facility is designed to produce improvements in:

·         Energy

·         Flexibility

·         Resistance to injury and sickness

·         Bone density

·         Resting metabolism

·         Cardiovascular function

Workouts are 30 minutes – no time is wasted – and are generally once a week. People of any age and level of fitness can do this. Trainers have years of experience determining:

1)    The required amount of exercise to safely stimulate change.

2)    Sufficient time to recover and improve each week.

3)    The proper design of workouts suited to clients’ limits and needs. 

You can avoid injuries and the trial-and-error of finding what works.  You will improve each week. As your fitness improves you will be more inclined to be active, and you will have more time to enjoy life outside the gym.  It is an exercise program people can stick to.

High intensity sprint training you can stick to

With any exercise program if you set the bar too high you’ll likely quit. Set the bar lower and you are more likely stick to it and see more results in the long run.

One way to do sprint training that I have seen recommended and I have tried:  Warm up on an exercise bike or other aerobic equipment.  Then go as fast as you can for 30 seconds.  Recover at much slower RPMs for 90 seconds then repeat the cycle for a total of eight sprints. If you are truly going as fast as you can it will take a long time to acheive eight all-out sprints.  It is grueling. It took me months to build up to eight sprints. I had great results, but I absolutely hated it. I had a sense of dread whenever I would go into the gym to do it. I eventually quit. 

Trying to go as fast as you can is a euphemism for trying to withstand as much pain as you can. These sprints are difficult. Approaching spring training in this manner was, for me, a prescription for quitting.

After a three-month hiatus I finally had enough gumption to go back to this type of training, but I took a different approach. Instead of seeing how much I could withstand I set the bar lower. Instead of working up to a total of eight as-hard-as-you-can sprints I started at eight not-nearly-as-hard-as-you-can sprints. When I was done I said, “That's not so bad”. I kind of looked forward to the next session instead of dreading it.
Instead of going to 95% of my maximum heart rate I went between 85% to 90% of my max, and instead of taking 90 seconds to recover, I waited for my pulse to come down before doing another sprint. At first doing a total of eight sprints took me 29 minutes, as the recovery periods were longer. With each session I patiently waited for my pulse to come back down and over a series of weeks my pulse came down quicker. After a couple of months I was still doing sprints. But instead of taking 29 minutes it only took me 21 minutes. I was very happy with this quantifiable improvement, and I did not dread the next sprint session.

Sprint training is one form of high intensity training we do at Austin Personal Trainers

Can't move it, can't hold it, and can't slow it down

Muscles have to be exposed to more than they are used to handling if there is to be a positive change. Hopefully that is done in a safe manner. Confronted with a state of fatigue that is beyond what the body is used to, the body, as self-protection, will make a positive adaption by becoming stronger if given enough recovery time.

There are three stages of fatigue associated with resistance training. When you can no longer lift or move a weight you've reached concentric or positive failure. When you can no longer hold the weight you've reached static failure. This produces a deeper fatigue than positive failure. When you can no longer stop a weight from falling or lowering you've reached negative or eccentric failure.  This is the deepest fatigue.  Eccentric failure is best conducted with a trainer or spotter and on equipment where it can be safely performed.

Negative reps should be used sparingly. Negatives put a much bigger hit on the system. You're basically pulling the muscles out of a contraction. Micro-trauma to the muscles occurs. If not done safely you can have serious injury. One way to do this is to complete a regular set and then have the trainer immediately lift the weight for the client and have the client lower the weight slowly.

If one performs chin-ups to the point where she just barely gets the last one up that's positive failure. If she continues to hold at the top position until she can no longer hold it that is static failure. After that if she fights the lowering of her body weight with every fiber of her being she will achieve negative failure.

Achieving negative failure? That is far from a negative thing. You have successfully stressed the body to the point where the body as an act self-protection must make a positive adaption to survive.

Conducted correctly negatives can be very safe. I am currently conducting physical therapist prescribed negative reps with a client with two knee replacements through a limited range. There are a lot of factors to consider.  The type of exercise, the range of motion, pre-existing conditions are just a few of those considerations.  At Austin Personal Trainers and New Orleans Fitness Training we have MedX rehabilitative exercise equipment that is specially suited for concentric, static and eccentric reps. 

An exercise plan anyone can stick to

From this NY Times article Full-Service Gyms Feel a Bit Flabby

“Up to 45 percent of fitness-club members quit going in any given year, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association [IHRSA].”

 And this

 “Up until the last six years, it’s been relatively easy to sell memberships, and to replace people going out the back door with people coming through the front door.”

It is nice to have full service clubs will all the bells and whistles, but most people only utilize a small part of all the clubs have to offer.  Worst still, with all they have to offer, most people fail to use the facility with any regularity.  At the end of the year the only thing lighter is their wallet.  According to IHRSA only 30 percent use their club memberships on a regular basis.  For many health clubs end up being collection agencies disguised as health clubs.

 A better plan that you can stick to for years:

  • Do something you enjoy. You more likely stick to it.  Ride a bike, golf, swim run, or (fill in the blank).  I take my dog on long walks. I am never bored, and I always look forward to it.
  • Make modest changes in your eating habits.  Follow an eating plan that you can stick to.  You burn about 150 calories for each mile you cover. You can run a mile or eat three less Oreos.  I choose to eat three less Oreos.
  • Strength train.  It will help with #2 above - it will boost your metabolism.  Strength training is also good for #1 – you’ll be able to do those things you enjoy longer, better, and with less chance of injury. 


Choose a strength training program that is effective, efficient, and safe.  High Intensity Training (HIT) for strength does not require a big chunk of your time, the improvement you see will likely motivate you to stick to it, and it is safe. HIT is the type of training we use at Austin Fitness Training and atNew Orleans Fitness Trainers.  We can guide you through a personal training program that will enable you to get more out of less time exercisingand keep improving.

How does one stick with an exercise program?

Seven out of 10 American adults don't exercise regularly despite the proven health benefits, a study released Sunday says - Study: Most Americans don't exercise regularly. That sounds about right. The renewal rate for health club membership is 30 percent. Of those that rejoin only a majority of them use the club on a regular basis.

Every January health clubs are crowded for what I call the two week resolution. By the end of the month the crowds are gone. The only thing that remains constant and enduring is the mandatory monthly payment for a gym membership not used.

Here just one approach for sticking to an exercise program that has worked for me and for those whom I have worked. (1) Commit to something you know you can maintain for the long term. Don’t set the bar too high. (2) Select an exercise that produces the most benefits. (3) Select a program designed to produce the highest marginal return – the most benefit for minimal time exercising.

Regarding number one, not setting the bar too high: consider high intensity training (HIT). HIT requires as little as one 30 minute session a week. The remainder of the week do something physically that you enjoy. Go for walks. Ride your bike.

Regarding number, two, the most benefit: High intensity strength training reverses more of the bio-markers of aging than any other form of exercise.

Regarding number three, for the highest marginal returning for time spent exercising nothing compares HIT for the time spent. The list of benefits is long.

You need not spend hours in the gym to make a profound difference. Studies have shown that significant strength increases result from high intensity interval training as little as once a week.

As you become stronger you will find you will be able to engage in more activities, and this will further enhance your health. It all starts with strength. Just improve a little each week and over time you will feel years younger. High intensity interval training is the type of personal training we do atAustin Fitness Training and at New Orleans Fitness.