If you are passionately involved in the health, fitness and performance field, which clearly you are if you are reading this, you no doubt have come across some argumentative aspects on various training modalities. I want to shed some light on two of the most popularly argued protocols/modalities. Thinking one is horrible or being best is not only absurd and a waste of energy, but it may be holding you and your clients back from progressing.
Let me first start with the popular “muscle confusion” form of training and Crossfit. I put these two together because many stake them with several commonalities, similarities that will prove my point of neither being “bad” per se as many will adamantly argue. First of all, Crossfit is a SPORT and secondly, along with the term muscle confusion, is a marketing term for a concept of pretty much “random activity” by definition of what has been accepted as majority. This does not mean that that is true because a lot of the coaches actually do have great ways of tracking and have methods to their “madness”. I will say this, neither concept was invented anytime recently as athletic forms of various training and cross training in general has been around for decades. So don’t argue that. The sport is new(er).
The somewhat randomness is not necessarily a bad thing if your goals are to simply lose some fat, gain some conditioning and if you are a newbie, potentially gain some lean mass. Or is you are advanced, you can get jacked too due to the high loads and volume. Is there a rhyme of reason for doing 30 snatches at high speed with no rest followed by kip-ups and 50 box jumps? No, unless you are training for the sport of Crossfit. That is where I believe people lose sight of things. Is it bad to confuse your muscles each time you train with different movements and modalities like lifts with HIIT? No, absolutely not unless you are training for a particular sport and need to have the proper movement patterns and nervous system adaptations. Will your joints and nervous system pay for things later? Yeah probably but if you go in knowing that and are willing to stake that claim, that’s your decision. Live and let live.
There are actually some similarities between conjugate and contrast training as well as undulating periodization to these two highly ridiculed forms of training. In fact, the somewhat “randomness” of these types of activities can actually be more helpful to many who have hit a fat loss plateau or have several years of training under their belts. You must have a good coach as well as be gradually introduced to these methods but in terms of fat loss, efficiency is something you do not want and to become efficient, you must have repeat behaviors. You also want to keep these to shorter not longer and more frequent bouts unless it is solely your job to do this.
Next up is another two concepts that often has trainers or trainees confused or arguing. The debate of slow and moderate cardio versus balls to the walls HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio or HIRT (high intensity resistance training circuits) for goal attainment is one that I’m sure will not die anytime soon. If you are looking for performance enhancement, fat loss and muscle retention, HIIT and HIRT seem to be the surefire winner. Does this mean that slow or moderate cardio should be demolished? Absolutely not. If you or your clients have joint issues, injuries or an already stressful lifestyle plus hit the weights with good intensity, further adding to the already high levels of stress with HIIT/HIRT can make them feel rundown, sick and even make them lose muscle and gain fat over time. Some people just cannot get the physiological response safely with certain types of activities.
Slow to moderate cardio work is a great tool for not only burning off some calories, because they DO ultimately count in terms of fat loss, but it also serves as a mental stimulator and a form of movement meditation for some, as well as it helping your clients to recover from their training. Neither form of cardio should be relied on solely or dismissed as they can greatly compliment each other.
There are so many methods of training, schools of thought that many will waste time arguing on. Having an open mind to various protocols and seeing them for what they are as well as the potential within the methods, will greatly enhance your ability to help your clients and yourself. If you are looking to improve at a sport, you will want to become efficient in movements, neurological and physiological aspects, but if you are looking to just have some fun with training to be healthy, fit and maybe shed some fat, you will want to be inefficient.
While I firmly believe in getting the basics down first, I am not here to dictate to you my opinions on your best ways to achieve goals and outcomes. I am just here to shed some light and make you think for yourself in an industry so filled with those wanting to lessen critical thinking for their own agendas. The main thing is to prevent injuries and to help make people better in their lives. This means finding the methods and modalities your clients enjoy and respond well to even if it goes against what some may say.
When it comes down to it, you want to continually educate yourself on all sides of an argument in terms of training methods. Don’t fall into the trap that you need to have yourself or your clients doing it all because it is the hot thing right now. There are far too many factors involved and it is supposed to be about making people better at life isn’t it? (Again, we are talking non-sport specific as that is a whole other game).
You must also remember that these are your clients so who should really be dictating your goals, programs and outcomes? You and your client that’s who! Find the fit for them based on what their lives, needs and bodies can do and handle, yourself included. Do what makes you and/or your peeps happy, healthy and feeling good. Don’t tell them, educate them. Help lead them. To that there is not argument.