Whether you call it working out, training, exercising or getting your fitness on, there is one thing that I stress with all my clients – do it with INTENT.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
Do you just show up to the gym, and go through the motions, not quite sure what you are doing or where you should “feel the burn”? While this may be better than staying in bed or sitting on the couch – it still isn’t providing your biggest return on your investment.
There are a few areas of fitness that I always stress intention with my clients, and these areas are ones that can often get pushed aside, or simply forgotten about.
1. Ab/Core Exercises
When doing core work, you should feel the exercise – you guessed it – in your core!
Exercises like the deadbug, birddog, and other Jungle Book like exercises are easy to just go through the motions on. You will get nothing out of a deadbug if you are not consciously bracing in the abs, breathing correctly, and focussing on core stabilization.
Here is a fantastic demo from Eric Cressey:
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Same thing goes with planks. Yes, I know some guy held a plank for 5 hours and something, but was he maximally bracing his abs, and creating max tension in his entire body the whole time? I highly doubt it. I dont know about you, but I have better things to spend my time on than holding a 5 hour plank.
For planks, I like to recommend the RKC plank. This version is MUCH harder, and when done right – should only be able to be held for 20-30 seconds. As quoted on T-Nation, “Place your arms slightly farther out than you would in a traditional, non-effective plank. Contract the glutes and quads as hard as you can until your body starts shaking like a paint mixer.”
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2. High Intensity Cardio/Metabolic Work
The key words here being HIGH INTENSITY.
To get the most out of high intensity work, you need to be pushing yourself hard. I often tell my clients that I would rather have you go as hard as possible for 15-20 seconds, and need a break to catch your breath, rather than pacing yourself for 15-20 seconds and being able to go right into the next exercise.
All of the studies that have produced the results that back up HIIT (high intensity interval training) have been done to maximal effort. If you are going at max effort, you should not be able to stay at that pace for longer than 20, maybe 30 seconds.
If you can talk, sing, or yawn during “max effort” work – you are not putting in max effort.
If you are doing HIIT with 2 minute long “high intensity” runs, you are not doing HIIT. Not that there isn’t a time and place for this or it is bad, but I just want to clarify.
This is high intensity:
3. Lifting Combo Exercises
Yes, it might look cool to do a step up onto a BOSU, then bicep curl into an overhead press and step down into a RDL, but what is the purpose or intent of this exercise?
If your intent is to strengthen and work your legs – do a step up with appropriately challenging weight.
If your intent is to work your biceps and build sexy arms, then do bicep curls with an appropriate weight.
If your goal is to build strong, sculpted shoulders, then do shoulder presses with an appropriate weight.
If your goal is to train for the circus – then stick to the BOSU.
Your weight that you use for step ups should be much heavier than a weight you can curl – unless you skip leg day and do bro arm sessions everyday.
By doing a step up with a curl, you are selling your legs short on their effort. There are times that these exercises can be effective (in circuits, finishers, or combination with other leg exercises), but if done as a standalone exercise can be sub par at best.
Not sure what the “intent” is here…
When it comes to training, always remind and ask yourself – what is my goal here?
Then make it happen!
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Stay healthy my friends,