The fitness industry, like any other, is flooded with misinformation.
The mainstream media is full of websites, magazines, books, and online experts that try to convince us of “quick fixes.” There are quick fixes for rapid fat loss, trimmer waists, and looking our best with solutions that involve slaving away on treadmills, starving yourself, and using nothing but 5-10 lb weights.
And the misconceptions don’t surround just weight loss, the performance industry is growing every day with someone trying to convince us of their new “sport specific” power, speed, or agility program is the answer to elite level performance.
We’ve all been there before.
We leave the gym feeling crushed because we’ve been given the perception that that’s what it takes to achieve our goals. But this approach is rarely sustainable, and more importantly, oftentimes unsuccessful.
And the yo-yo continues.
While hard work, sweat, and leaving tired may be a component of improving body composition and power, speed, and agility certainly have a place in any good sports performance program, our focus is wrong.
Essentially, we are working on the frosting before we bake the cake.
Luckily, our understanding of what it takes to enhance your fitness and get in the best shape of your life has grown enormously over the last several years. Scientific evidence is being produced that is showing us exactly what to do to achieve maximum results.
Unfortunately, sometimes this new information isn’t exciting enough to sell magazines.
Fitness Myths: What You’re Being Told Might Be Hurting Your Results
The secret to success is simple.
The foundation of a successful, sustainable, long-term fitness or performance program must be strength training.
Strength Training to Look and Feel Better
Every one of us has a friend (or is the friend…) that is convinced the only way to look and feel better is to slave away on cardio machines or do intense high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every day.
They’ve learned to associate sweat and exhaustion with fat loss and accomplishment. Even worse, they’ve turned exercise into a punishment for poor nutritional choices in the past or a prerequisite for poor choices intended in the near future.
This negative association with exercise can largely be a result of a lack of results, which in turn sends these people deeper into a cycle of punishing workouts, poor nutrition and ultimately unhappiness from a lack of success.
What is missing for many of these individuals is a foundation of strength training off of which many of their goals to look and feel better can be achieved.
Simply put, fat loss occurs by changing your metabolism.
Noted author and strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove often discusses a hierarchy of exercises to perform to increase your metabolism and achieve optimal fat loss. In this hierarchy, he includes:
- Strength Training
- High-Intensity Interval Training
- Steady State Cardio
Strength training should be the foundation of any program. If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through pictures on Instagram and admiring others, it’s probably those that had some strength and muscle tone rather than people that are simply “skinny.”
Strong is the new skinny.
Our goal should be to strength train all of our muscles groups. This doesn’t mean become a bodybuilder, but rather to build some muscle to change our metabolism as much as possible.
This not only burns an amazing amount of calories, but also increases your resting metabolism so you burn ever MORE calories throughout the day. Studies have shown that you will burn more calories for the next 38 hours after a strength training workout!
More importantly, we have also learned that people who strength train lose 35% more weight than those who diet and perform cardio exercises, and 44% more than people who diet alone.
The science speaks for itself.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Once the foundation of strength training is laid, the next area to focus on is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. HIIT essentially means using quick sessions of high-intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest.
HIIT combined with strength training is an amazing combination. Doing them individually is OK, but performing them together is powerful.
But again, let’s go back to the research. Studies continue to show that HIIT burns more fat, results in greater weight loss, and decreases your waistline more than traditional cardio.
And there is even more good news – HIIT achieves all this in less than half the time of traditional cardio! That’s right, studies continue to show that HIIT for 10-20 minutes is more effective than 30-60 minutes of traditional cardio on a treadmill or elliptical.
That’s a win-win. Better results in half the time.
Steady State Cardio
Lastly, steady state cardio is what you would consider “traditional cardio.” it’s going to gym and exercising on the treadmill or elliptical at an even pace for a long time.
Unfortunately, this is what most people do, often times while watching TV or checking in on Facebook.
Steady state cardio does burn calories but does little to enhance most people’s metabolism. It can burn calories if you get after it hard enough, but hopefully, as you see now after reading the above, this is not nearly as effective as strength training.
Traditional cardio is more of the icing than the cake. In fact, at Champion, we use steady state cardio as a supplement to our clients’ programs if they have additional time. It’s not the foundation.
Strength Training to Perform Better
When we discuss strength training for performance, it really just comes down to physics.
- Speed is the ability to move fast
- Power is the ability to move a load fast
- Agility is the ability to control and dissipate force fast
You need strength for all of the above.
Sure, there are great power, speed, and agility drills out there, and they work, but none of them are going to maximize your performance without the foundation of strength.
Going back to the science, strength training has been researched and shown to increase explosive power, sprint speed, and even 5K times.
Now imagine combining strength training with power, speed, and agility. That’s performance.
So just like fat loss, strength training is the cake, and power, speed, and agility drills are the frosting. They are necessary components, but better results are achieved when they are performed with a foundation of strength.
Strength Training is the Foundation
As you can see, the key to a successful fitness program is strength training. Recent scientific evidence has shown us that strength should be the foundation of any program to improve how we look, feel, more, and perform.
Your time in the gym is limited. Maximize it by performing a program that gets results and is sustainable and stop the yo-yo.
Stop listening to the magazines that say to starve yourself, stop slaving away on the treadmill, and stop use tiny weights.
It’s time to get strong, it’s time to get results.
Learn Champion’s 5 Pillars of Fitness Success
If you’re interested in learning more, we have an awesome video presentation that you can download for FREE that discusses even more principles and overviews our approach to fitness. In this video, we’ll overview our 5 pillars of fitness (can you guess that “Strength is the Foundation” is one of them???) that you can use to take your fitness to the next level.
If you are serious about getting more out of your fitness, you’ll get a lot out of our approach.