What are the two most common goals I hear most often from a great deal of people referencing their fitness goals?
“I want to lose weight and gain muscle.”
Usually at the same time.
While not impossible, it is incredibly difficult to accomplish both tasks simultaneously and takes a level of dedication (and quite a toll on the ‘quality of life’ scale) that would make daily life rather unenjoyable.
On the positive side, if you are a beginner, looking to start exercise for the first time, or get back into it for the first time in a while, you should be able to see decent progress in both directions as you form an initial routine.
The increased activity level should help you start to shed off some of that unwanted weight and, as your body starts to become accustomed to some of the exercises you are doing, you should be able to increase the weight in a majority of your lifts rather quickly.
When you start to progress past the newbie stage, the scale and/or the weight might begin to stall. Time for an adjustment!
The people that are most successful in achieving their fitness goals, assuming you haven’t resorted to taking locker room “advice” from the bro with the fanny pack in the gym bathroom (yes, drugs), are the ones that can prioritize losing weight or gaining muscle into separate cycles and stick to it.
The million dollar fitness secret… losing weight requires the body to be in a caloric deficit; gaining muscle requires the body to be in a caloric surplus.
We circle back to the initial point: if you had just one goal to accomplish, what is it?
It is important to define what your goal is because it should completely dictate your training approach and your nutrition. The same principle can be applied to various forms of exercise, especially plyometric and top speed training. If you have been following along with this series you now know what plyometrics is and how to warm-up/ prepare for jump training.
If you were training to increase your strength in the deadlift, you would want a metric to be able to track your progress. This is most commonly accomplished by testing a 1 or 2 rep max. After establishing a trackable metric, the first step would be to deadlift every week for the next several weeks. You also would not just perform multiple sets of 10 at the same weight every week; or, if you do, it is doubtful that your 1 or 2 rep max is going to change much. Instead, you would work in progression from week to week, adding on weight and performing less reps as the intensity increases.
Conditioning is not training for maximum performance! If you are new to jump training or top speed training, or just getting back into it for the first time in a while, initially just the acts of jumping or sprinting will help you improve. However, at some point you will stall and without a progressive approach, you may hit the wall.
Performing box jumps until you are blue in the face or running fatigued sprints out on the track can help your conditioning, but will poorly translate over to force development. In order to get faster or jump higher, each rep must be performed with high intensity (MAXIMUM EFFORT!). This means treating this form of training in the same manner you would train to improve your 1 or 2 rep max for deadlift: low, challenging rep schemes and enough rest time between sets so you are as close to 100% fresh as you can be before the beginning of the next set.
Sessions need to revolve around performance and execution, not exhaustion.
Generally speaking, if the goal is to simply increase your aerobic conditioning, by all means set up that low box and unleash your inner-bunny at any point in your workout. However, if you are prioritizing jumping higher, being able to run faster or using plyo training to help increase one of your major compound lifts, plyo training needs to be prioritized towards the beginning of your workout when you are fresh, keep your sets short so that you can attack every rep with intent and purpose, take as long of rest times between sets as needed, and there should be a 48-72 hour recovery period between sessions.
Intent is key, define your goal.
Vinnie can be reached at Vincent@freedomfitgym.com