Thursday, April 26, 2012

The best of both worlds

My fitness training during the past decade has included extended multi-year periods where I trained exclusively with one method or the other but generally not both. The past year, however, has been different.

During one era, I trained with bodyweight-only exercises like pullups, bar dips, pushups, visualized resistance, and self-resistance exercises that did not require barbells, dumbbells or exercise machines.

This was high volume training – lots of sets and repetitions - with brief rest periods between sets. I generally trained every day. Running and karate training were the cardiovascular components of my training. Iron was out and to be avoided at all cost.

A fitness website I frequented for training ideas frowned on weight training like it was the Black Plaque, something that would destroy civilization and contribute to a debilitating condition known as “Busted-up Weightlifter Syndrome”. I was a bodyweight-only junkie during this era and maintained a respectable level of fitness training this way.

Then I discovered the fascinating world of Olympic weightlifting and decided to join that club and way of training. My bodyweight-only training came to an end as the rigors of good Olympic weightlifting training made it incompatible with a good bodyweight-only training program.

During this new era with the Olympic lifts, I used heavier weights for moderate sets of low repetitions, my rest periods between sets were longer, and my training frequency was about three times a week rather than daily. I also performed non-Olympic lift barbell auxiliary exercises and didn’t do much cardiovascular training.

I was an Olympic weightlifting junkie during this era. Like the bodyweight-only training era, I maintained a respectable level of fitness training with the Olympic lifts.

This past year, I’ve trained using both methods. My workouts begin with weightlifting of basic barbell exercises - overhead press and squat to name just two – using heavier (for me) loads for generally five sets of three repetitions. Afterwards, I perform two bodyweight-only exercises – pull-ups and bar dips - for about five to six sets with repetition volume that challenges my strength endurance abilities. I train about three times a week and end each workout with a short and intense anaerobic cardiovascular session ranging from five to 15 minutes. I’m maintaining a respectable level of fitness training this way.

What I’ve learned from my fitness journey this past decade is that there’s no one best training method to achieve and maintain a respectable level of fitness. It’s important to be on guard for a false mindset that one method is superior to the other or that one method is dangerous and inferior to be avoided at all cost.

Our training programs must match our personalities and often our training personalities change over time. However we train, we just have to show up and do the hard work to reap the fitness benefits of a respectable level of fitness.

The way I’m training now, I believe, is the best of both worlds.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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