5 Tips to Engineer the Hard Work Back into Your Workout

It's not an overstatement to say that many (dare I say most) well-meaning exercisers have found a way to engineer some of the hard work out of their workouts.  To be sure, the act of going to a health club and spending an hour there is not a guarantee that you will make meaningful improvements in health, fitness, appearance or performance.  It always surprises me that people will pay for a health club membership, buy high-tech workout clothing, take the time to drive to the gym, park, change clothes, etc. etc. but still miss out on the valuable part of the workout: intensity.  The key is to present a meaningful stimulus to the physiological systems of the body, not to simply spend time in an exercise facility.  Here is a list of 5 tips to engineer that stimulus back into your cardio-respiratory and strength workouts.  Make no mistake; the vast majority of exercisers are not meaningfully integrating these tips.

Research on Strength Training in Endurance Running and Cycling

A review article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports provided the most up to date summary on the impact of strength training on endurance running and cycling.  This article was a review of the current research, not an individual study.  The aim of a review article is to synthesize the published work on a particular topic and to draw conclusions from that body of work.

Never Stop Improving

“When will I hit my limit or achieve my potential in terms of strength?”  Is a question we often field.  A variation of this includes, “When will I shift to trying to maintain my strength rather than trying to improve it?”  The answer to this question is both interesting and encouraging.  We will reach our peak ability to demonstrate strength at varying times in our lives.  Peak strength may occur at 45 years of age or 65 years of age depending on our training experience and individual physiology.  However, the important point is that we should never switch to a strength-training program that emphasizes “maintenance” over improvement.  As we age, we may have to continue to strive to improve just to maintain our current level of strength.  After all, our biological trajectory is that we will continue to get weaker and weaker as we age.  This occurs even if we are active.  We can combat this process if we strength train intelligently.  However, when we are 60 or 70 years old, we will need to strive to get stronger, just to maintain.  Interestingly, research indicates that if we switch to a regimen that encourages “maintenance” we actually start losing strength.  It appears that the very construct of “maintaining” has negative mental and physiological effects.  Of course, we don’t always have to improve in terms of the amount of weight we lift.  We may improve by performing more reps with the same weight, by taking less recovery between exercises in a given workout, or by slowing the movement speed with which we perform each repetition (and therefore increasing the difficulty).  The imperative is this: We must attempt to improve.  This Mantra has become the Passion of Discover Strength… Our Core Purpose.  This is how we we think about exercise, how we think about ourselves, and how we think about an organization.  Never Stop Improving.

Improving Balance

Falls and their consequences are a paramount health concern in older populations. Poor balance has pervasive effects on daily life and therefore maintaining balance represents an important pillar for the quality of life as we age.  A study published in the European Journal of Translational Myology brings clarity to how exactly we should go about improving our balance.

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