All Exercise is Not Created Equal

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Some people are stubborn. Like the “walls of my house are crumbling down but I’m not leaving- it’s my house after all !” The exercise world isn’t immune from hard headed individuals. But being too stubborn is probably costing you some gains.

As a personal trainer I prefer that “stubborn” and “training” not to mix together. In fact, they should never even meet. But getting in shape requires change and a lifelong enemy of change is stubbornness. I meet a lot of people who want great results but don’t want to change their routine. Most go through the same protocol every time they hit the gym:

-Do a few sets of bench presses

-Do a couple different arm exercises

-Jog on the treadmill

-Hit the abs……a lot

Lather, rinse, repeat. Now don’t get me wrong, these people get an A for effort. I’m all for trying. But the issue here is that everyone wants to get strong, lean, and powerful but by doing the same thing….over and over again. That’s not a recipe for six pack abs. In fact, it’s the definition of insanity. While they want help, they also don’t want to let go of their repetitive routine.

The issue here is that all exercise is not created equal. Breaking a sweat and breathing heavy are side effects of what you’re doing, but it doesn’t imply that you’ll get shredded. I mean, my heart rate shoots up when I say something stupid in front of my wife, but that’s not a great way to get fit.

Everything starts with your goals. A good personal trainer knows that programs for fat loss, strength, and muscle hypertrophy (building muscle) will all be radically different. Your body has different pathways for using energy: what your muscle cell’s goes through during a mile run is different than doing a set of box jumps. In turn, your body responds appropriately. This is why a marathon runner looks different from a sprinter even though both “run.” This is why stubborn doesn’t work in the gym; your programs need to constantly evolve.

Maybe you’re saying “great, so what the heck do I do?” Well, we’d be here forever and a day if I went in depth into programming, but here’s kind of a beginners guide:


Fat Loss: focus on doing more work in less time. Meaning cut down on your rest each week you go to the gym. If you’re not measuring your rest with circuit training or intervals, start.

Gaining muscle: your sets should last at least 20 seconds, although 40-70 is even better. Gaining muscle is less about how much weight you can lift and more about creating tension in the muscle.

Strength: very few lifts, 1-5 reps, and more weight on the bar (to a certain point).

In a perfect training year, you would be fluctuating through all three types of training to be your best. Your body has a great way to adapt to your workouts in just a matter of weeks. You can see why stubborn and fit don’t necessarily mix.

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