Just a little rant about excuses…
“HARD WORK, DEDICATION”! “HARD WORK, DEDICATION”! “HARD WORK, DEDICATION”! If you have ever seen training camp footage of Floyd “Money” Mayweather, you know that “hard work, dedication” is his mantra. “Hard work, dedication” is not only the mantra for The Money Team (TMT) it is also the mantra for any and all successful people! Everyone from successful entrepreneurs to SuperBowl Champions, all the way down to anyone who has ever achieved a worthy goal, all successful people have uttered the words, “hard work and dedication”. This is because there is no other way to succeed. In fact I am willing to go out on a limb by declaring that it is impossible to succeed without both hard work and dedication.
But how do you measure hard work? Well in the physics world, work is defined as the amount of force required to move an object a given distance.
Work = Force x distance
So to get more work you would either need to increase the amount of force used, or travel a further distance. But there is also another more important factor to consider and that is, time. Time is a limited resource, so a better measurement is to determine how much work has been done is a set amount of time. Well going back to the physics world, this is defined as Power, which is the ultimate measurement of performance. The more work you do in a given amount of time the higher the power output, which equals better performance.
Power = work/time
These physics definitions translate very well to the fitness world. However,to make this more relatable (using fitness terms), I would like to substitute the word PRODUCTIVITY for the word POWER and the word INTENSITY for the word WORK. We then have the fitness success equation:
Productivity = Intensity/time
For a given workout (time), the higher the intensity (work), the more productive (power) the workout. And we all know the more productive you are the faster you will achieve your goals. It is SCIENCE!
This proves that the intensity of a workout is directly related to the effectiveness, but BEWARE, intensity can be “simulated” and you might be a victim and not even know it…
I’ve never been skydiving, however I have had the sensation of skydiving. About 6 years ago I found myself inside a vertical wind tunnel. This tunnel blasts air, upwards, at 120-mph, which is also known as terminal velocity (constant free fall speed of an object). This powerful upward draft of air allows you to “float” in mid-air giving the sensation of a real life free fall (about 2-mins of flying). I had an absolute blast and I even felt like it was a fairly good simulation of what it would be like to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. But here’s the catch, it was a simulation, there was no airplane, no parachute strapped to my back, there was no danger of injury or death, the atmosphere was low key, and I only needed a 15-min course. So while the skydive simulation was awesome, by no means do I think my wind tunnel experience was equivalent to the real thing. I understand that it was just a “lazy man’s” sky dive experience. However in the fitness world many people still confuse the “simulation” experience with the real thing.
There are workouts that specialize in giving you the sensation of an intense workout, obviously these workouts are better than doing nothing, however, just like indoor skydiving, these “simulation workouts” pale in comparison to the real thing. But let’s fist define what an intense workout looks/feels like. The two biggest indicators of a very intense workout are increased body temperature and feeling “the burn” in your muscles.
Increased body temperature: The signs of body temperature rising are sweating, shortness of breath (suffocating feeling), increased thirst, and an elevated heart rate. In other words, you feel uncomfortably HOT! That’s why I always say, “got to get hot to be hot”! 😉 . It is true, sweating and feeling hot is one of the best indicators for a highly effective workout.
Sweat = Hard Work = Success!
There are two ways to raise your body temperature, you can raise it internally by doing work or you can raise it externally by cranking up the heat in a room. Hot Yoga anyone? “It’s like yoga, but hot”. By cranking up the heat to 104 degrees and adding about 40% humidity hot yoga has recreated the sensation of increased intensity. If you have ever done hot yoga you know that it doesn’t take long before you start sweating, breathing becomes harder, and heart rate starts to increase. Now they (yogis) claim this is not their intention, they say they are heating up the room to recreate the conditions of India or something like that. But coincidence or not, Hot Yoga “tricks” your mind by giving you the exact same feeling of a intense workout but with much less effort required. It really is simple, it takes more effort (greater intensity) to raise your body temperature internally then is does walking into a hot room. When you walk into a hot room your body temperature raises automatically, you could just lay there and you would start to sweat. It is not the same thing! By this logic, every one living in Phoenix, Arizona should be shredded. Heat alone is not enough, it matters how the heat is generated (internally or externally).
Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying yoga (hot or not) is bad, I am just calling a spade a spade. Yoga is about stretching, and meditation, it is not intended to be an intense workout. Again don’t take this the wrong way, I am also not saying yoga is easy, in fact it can take years of dedication to become a yoga master. I am just saying that no matter which way you slice and dice it yoga is not a power producing workout. Hell even the State of Washington (among many other states) agrees with me and we all know how greedy States are when it comes to collecting taxes. According to the Washington State Department of revenue, yoga is classified as more mental/spiritual than physical. Yes, the intensity of yoga is so low that they pay almost 50% less in state taxes compared to any other gym.
“Yoga, is definitely not an aerobic exercise.” – Anne Phyfe Palmer, owner of 8 Limbs Yoga centers in Seattle
Feeling “the burn”: Have you ever ran hill sprints? I am talking about running as fast as you possibility can up the steepest hill you can find. If you have then you know that they are absolutely brutal, once that lactic acid builds up, your muscles begin to burn. After just a few sprints the pain/burning sensation becomes so bad that the only thing that keeps you going is your determination. After about 10 of these sprints, all of a sudden your legs are made out of jello and you have a hard time walking properly for hours afterwards. An experience like this leaves no doubt in your mind that you got an amazing workout.
But this too can be simulated and there maybe no better workout for simulating that lactic acid burning sensation than Barre. How? By doing workouts I would show my 85 year old grandma. “Here grandma, grab this bar so you don’t fall and give me some squats and calf raises.” Honestly I am not trying to pick on Barre classes, I just want to point out that the power produced is very small. Back to physics – work is measured by the amount of force required to move and object. And Barre classes specialize in muscle isolation and tend to use very little if any weight. Light weight means less force is required to move the object and muscle isolation means, just that, isolating muscles, and when muscles are isolated, less force is needed to complete the job.
Let me give you an example. Calf raises (isolation exercise -one major muscle group involved) vs. Squats (nearly all major muscle groups involved). In a set amount of time which exercise (calf raises or squats) do you think will require more work and produce more productivity (power)? If you said squats congratulations, you know more then most mainstream fitness instructors know about fitness. We haven’t even discussed weight and distance, now imagine how much more work is required to squat 200-lbs (in addition to your own body weight)and moving this weight 2 to 4 feet (depending on squat depth). Compare this to a calf raises, just your body weight moving a maximum 6-inches. Again it is simple, the more force required, the further distance traveled, and the more muscles involved at one time the better the workout.
Barre takes the quantity over quality approach which means they do a shit ton of reps with little to no weight and isolates as many muscles as possible. This means you get to feel that burning sensation and even experience that jello feeling in your arms, legs and core all without even breaking a sweat. But here is the key, a muscle burning sensation alone doesn’t translate to an effective workout. Back in my collage days, I took so many notes that my hand would often cramp/burn on many occasions, but that doesn’t mean I got a great workout taking notes. Everyone has heard this, even though most of you choose to ignore it; “you can spot reduce”! Our body works as one unit and if you really want that firm ass or flat sexy stomach you have to burn fat and build muscle. And the only way to burn fat and build muscle is…
Look I understand, Barre allows you to “play” fitness model for the day; you get wear the latest Lululemon gear, you get to wear make-up, you get to style your hair, you get to experience your muscles burning/cramping in a safe/low key environment, and you don’t have to worry about sweating so you can still go get brunch with your friends afterwards.
So if you have been a victim of fitness simulation I hope you don’t get discouraged. We have a saying at my gym, “you are lapping everyone on the couch”. This means there is no such thing as a bad workout and anything you do is better than staying home watching Judge Judy. So if you like yoga or you like Barre, I encourage you to do whatever makes you happy (Always happy, never satisfied) and whatever keeps you moving. My goal for this post is to just make you aware that not all exercises are created equal and if you are serious about wanting that flat stomach and firm ass at some point you will need to increase your intensity, at some point you will need to be dripping in sweat (heat generated internally), with your muscles on fire. There is no shortcut and there is no magic pill. If you want head turning results you better get used to saying HARD WORK, DEDICATION!