It's been a long time since The Form Cop turned up in The Planet. So long, in fact, that he doesn't show up on this site! His return is long overdue, along with some background information on why he remains so important. (At least, he thinks so.)
A reminder from an early appearance of The Form Cop as to why form matters:
I wrote a post last year about online personal training. (I even used this same image. Efficiency!) In a nutshell, I'm not convinced it can work well without at least some in-person sessions.
However, it's still a big thing on the internet, largely because it can be easy and profitable for trainers to implement. Still, I was a bit disturbed to see this article directed at personal trainers on the topic of online training. Some of it is fine, but this part in particular bugs me:
Every January, zillons* of people start a new fitness program and the gyms fill up. By February, most of the newbies are missing workouts and by March things are pretty much back to normal (to the relief of the regular gym-goers). It doesn't only happen at the start of each new year, although that's a reliable occurrence. It would be nice to have statistics on the median lifespan of a new fitness routine. I'm confident it would be less than 30 days.
So what goes wrong? Why do so many people quit? Often, it's a case of doing too much too soon.
The scale is the dreaded measuring device most commonly used to check changing body composition; that is, are you getting fatter? It's not a good measure, though, since it doesn't really tell us anything about body composition--the ratios of fat, muscle, bone, and water that make up total body weight. Water can be particularly confounding since one cup weighs about half a pound, so drinking a beverage or using the bathroom can immediately change results in a measurable way. What we're really interested in is body fat percentage--that's the most useful measure of body "comp."
A while back, there was a post here in which Sensei Hutch described his preferred weight workouts with higher reps. Today's post describes my preferred lifting workouts with lower reps (and heavier weights).
Neither approach is "right." Different people with different objectives need different approaches. And there are many more variables to a program than simply changing the number of reps. These are only generalizations based on personal preferences.
(I know many people are not interested in lifting heavy weights. But keep in mind that "heavy" is relative. For example, powerlifters would not consider the weights I use "heavy." But I don't hold that against them.)
(This post originally appeared in the August 14, 2012 edition of The StrongFast Planet newsletter.)
You may know that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London wrapped up over the weekend. There was plenty of excitement, including Michael Phelps becoming the winningest Olympian ever, and a shocking scandal in the Badminton competition. (That doesn't sound right, does it?)
Olympic competitors have widely varying fitness levels. We see the tremendous aerobic capacity of marathoners, the incredible strength of weightlifters, the amazing flexibility of gymnasts, the compelling uniforms of beach volleyball players, and so much more.
When people adopt a (usually short-term) diet regimen, there is considerable debate as to whether to allow "cheat meals" that willfully deviate from the diet. Proponents argue that occasional splurges help people stick to their diets without significant negative effects, whilst antagonists argue that they are slippery slopes that too often lead to abandoning the diet altogether.
But a better way to consider "cheat" meals is that they are not cheating at all...they're detours.