New information, trial and error and changes in the industry best practices have all contributed to these shifts in thought.
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I was a lot more militant in my younger days than I am now. Becoming a husband, a father, and a business owner have drastically changed the way I look at fitness, and the way I coach people through it.
Every aspect of your life should be ever-evolving and changing to move forward. The way you think, speak, parent, relate with other human beings, work, and train is going to be much different now than it just five years from now. Let me share with you a few of my current beliefs about fitness.
Less volume, more frequency strength training.
My programming revolves heavily on progressive, high-density strength training. In the more than 20,000 sessions I've trained, I've never had more success than when I shortened my sessions to 30 minutes, and trained the total body as a unit, not as individual parts.
I train the "five pillars of human movement" as defined by Juan Carlos Santana (pushing, pulling, raising and lowering center of gravity, rotation and locomotion) using moderate to heavy resistance in a timed circuit fashion with minimal rest, and it works like a charm.
Coach Mike Boyle says "you can train hard, or you can train long, but you can't train hard for long."
I've found this to be true. very true. Most of the time spent in a typical 60-minute training session is either useless or time filler. Work hard, I mean really hard for half that time with minimal rest during the session, and I guarantee you'll agree it's the way to go.
Traditional cardio is useless for fat loss, but necessary.
Let's face it. Doing cardio is awful. It's slow, repetitive and has quickly diminishing effects (in as little as four weeks).
A few years ago, I would have told you that it is completely unnecessary in general. But as I've gotten older, and more receptive to the argument for all movement is good movement, I now know that traditional cardio training is absolutely important for overall health.
Sure you can get a cardio effect from strength training, but hardly anyone I know actually trains hard enough to get there. Overall, for fat loss, interval-style training is superior to traditional cardio, but it doesn't rule out doing it all together — especially if you are new to exercising.
Developing a good cardio base is part of the overall process of fitness, and can make the transition into strength training a little easier by increasing the capacity of the heart and lungs, and by creating new blood vessels.
Healthful eating is different than lean eating.
I used to be a food dictator. Hard-core, clean eating was the paramount commandment. Now, I'm a little more forgiving in my approach.
I don't believe you have to give up all your faves to look and feel your best. Moderation and balance is the key.
How strict you have to be depends on if you want to eat to create health (weight loss is a side effect of health), or eat to be lean. These are two different animals.
This is one of the biggest lessons I've learned about nutrition in recent years. Healthy nutrition takes organization, portion control and making smart choices with regard to healthful, supportive foods.
Lean eating is a bit trickier. It takes an almost obsessive level of commitment to maintaining the meal timing, nutrient ratios, total number of calories consumed and very few slipups, if any.
It can be extremely difficult, and honestly, it takes a certain personality to be disciplined enough to eat like this. Competitive bodybuilders will tell you, getting that cover-model, super-lean physique is one of the hardest things you'll ever do, and it isn't fun.
These are just a few of the main things that have evolved in the way I do fitness. Don't be afraid to change your mind on your beliefs or principles when presented with new, progressive information.
Being adaptive, and willing to change for the better is a sign of maturity, and what makes human beings unique in the world.
What are you willing to change to move closer to your fitness goals?
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer, FTNS radio show, fitness columnist and co-owner of Home Team Fitness Training. Visit his website www.hometeamfitness.net, or find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/hometeamfitness.