There are many variables when it comes to how to best hit the gym. Everybody is different, there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all way to train, and everyone has different goals. With that said, there are some basic tenets that apply which can help make your time training efficient, practical, and most of all safe. Of all these principles of training, understanding the effect of training and how our bodies adapt and get better is critical.
Think of what happens when you hit the gym, whether it’s your time on the climbing wall or your time in the fitness center. You train and put your body under stress. Later that evening, or perhaps the next day, you’re feeling it. Maybe you’re tight, sore, tender, or whatever adjective you choose, the bottom line is you can feel it. What you do next is critical to whether or not this will all have been worth it. You need to do it again. And soon. And consistently over time. Otherwise that bout of motivation and all your great effort won’t be fully realized. I’m not saying that any single effort or attempt at exercise is futile, because developing habits has to start somewhere. But my goal as a strength coach & personal trainer is to help people feel better, stronger, and healthier, so with that I offer this advice.
After we train and put stress upon our body, we go through a brief period where our performance or simply “how we feel” dips below our baseline. Then after a couple days our body repairs itself and says, “Hey, what the heck was that?!” If we don’t do it again any time soon, everything gets back to a nice comfortable existence back at our baseline level of performance. However, if we do it again within a brief period of time, our body will maybe once again say, “Yo, dude, what gives?!”, then dip down a bit, then repair itself back to our baseline. If we develop some consistency, and start doing this training thing every couple days, more often, finally our body is going to say, “Alright, fine. If you’re going to keep doing this then I’m going to go ahead and recover to a state above that baseline so I’m more prepared for the next time you do this!” This adaptation, or recovery to a state above our baseline will continue as long as we stay consistent and keep applying training stress in a proper way.
That, in short, is how we can fully realize the benefits of exercise and training. There are several more key principles that will be discussed in further detail in upcoming posts, so stay tuned and keep an eye out for more. We’ll discuss the idea of having a plan when you’re in the gym, of being sure that plan is specific towards your goals, and how to be sure we’re applying this stress in a productive way that’s safe and reduces the potential for injury.