Monday, January 11, 2021

Defining Exercise in 2021 — Why Your Fitness Goals Fail

When tackling any goal in life, it’s good to start out with a crystal-clear definition. This helps us stay laser focused on accomplishing that goal.

When it comes to exercise, that’s an area in which the fitness industry has consistently failed the consumer.

The term “exercise” in itself conjures up a expansive host of ideas — everything from minimum effort activities like walking and stretching to much more physically demanding activities like Cross Fit and playing recreational sports like pick-up basketball.

Everything in between

But where does that leave someone looking to improve their health and fitness? At worst, it lets them off the hook — allowing them to choose the easiest route. Something not too difficult, which they think they will enjoy. This will ultimately lead them to little or no tangible results, since the demand on their body is not great enough to stimulate change.

On the other hand, a gung-ho New Years Resolutionist might dive straight into a 90-day high intensity cardio boot camp, with flashy fitness models and fake before and after pictures, tricking them into thinking they could look just like that if they don’t miss a single day. This, more often than not, leads to self-sabotaging guilt from missing a day at best, and catastrophic injury from over training at worst.

Progressive resistance training

At Efficient Fitness, we define exercise very strictly, and for good reason. We want our clients to achieve the maximum health benefit, in the safest possible way, in the least amount of time. This leads us to a fairly narrow, but revolutionary definition:

Specific movements that stimulate a positive physiological adaptation (i.e. improved strength, muscle growth) *without undermining health.*

This narrow definition leaves only progressive resistance training as exercise, and everything else as “physical activity.”

Skating an 11-foot halfpipe last fall, something I definitely
couldn't do without progressive resistance training!

Exercise vs. physical activity

Now don’t get me wrong, being physically active is important! You can and should be active on a daily basis, and you should discriminately choose activities which bring you fulfillment and happiness.

But while these activities may have exercise “side effects,” they will be inherently more dangerous, less effective and extremely time inefficient when compared to progressive resistance training. 

For instance, my favorite physical activities include skateboarding, softball and golf. In isolation, none of these activities place enough demand on my skeletal muscle to produce an adaptive response to become stronger. They also are inherently dangerous. Progressive resistance training on the other hand, will keep me strong and fit with a minimum time commitment, allowing me to pursue those physical activities and perform well as I age.

I often hear “I don’t need to perform strength training because I play tennis twice a week,” or similar sentiments. The problem is, you won’t be able to keep playing tennis twice a week in perpetuity, unless progressive resistance training is part of your lifestyle as well!

The good news is, one or two 20-minute resistance training sessions per week is all it takes to maximize life-long health and functional ability, and it’s never too late to start. Call 425-214-2251 or email to book your complimentary introductory session today!