When do repetitions become redudantitions?
Most people waste time in the gym. Said it in my last blog. I’ll say it here again. There are many reasons for wasted time. A lot of people socialize when they should be training. Go to a bar if you want to BS! Some people go to the gym because it’s “that” time of day. Don’t go to the gym just because it’s on your schedule. Go with an ATTACK attitude!
Another common cause of wasted time is Redundancy. Redundant training happens when people do multiple variations of the same exercise for the same muscle group. Example: Bench press with a bar, then incline presses for the upper pecs, then decline presses for the lower pecs (ahem – we don’t have lower pecs), then dumbbell presses for the outer pecs (we don’t have outer pecs either), chest fly, cable fly, then a whole load of push-ups. The redundancy here is BEYOND ridiculous. This is the reason some people hangout in the gym for 2-3 hours. It’s WASTED TIME!
The Russians are far more advanced in their comprehension of sports-conditioning. They have been for a long time. If you ever want to blow your brains out, I recommend picking up any Russian book or journal that’s been translated to English (unless you can read Russian). Spend a moment trying to comprehend 1 paragraph from a Russian journal and you will be humbled by the magnitude and depth of Russian Exercise Physiology. I studied some Russian journals translated by Michael Yessis back in the 1980’s. One particular study revealed that any bout of exercise should be restricted to no more than 40 repetitions (6×6, 4×10, 2×20, etc). Going beyond 40 reps results in over-training and poor neuro-muscular coordination. Russians take into account the full neuromuscular and skeletal systems. They understand the human body as a system of levers being coordinated by the Central Nervous System. Russians are more concerned with performance first. Most Americans in the gym only see the muscular system. Americans are mostly caught up in appearances first and concerned with performance last. When the Russians outperform us in the Olympics or World Games we accuse them of steroids. Wrong – they understand human performance better than we do. In some respects, we’re finally catching up but we’re still stuck in our vanity.
One of my best phases of training came in 1987 when I studied under Marc Chasnov, Physical Therapist and Olympic Lifting Coach. In addition to being a Physical Therapy Intern, Marc trained me briefly in Olympic Lifting (Clean and Jerk, Snatch). The program was intense. We trained in an all white room without mirrors, windows, pictures or music. The entire focus was on proper lifting technique. Marc threw me out of the gym 3 times for breathing too loudly. His rational: “If you can’t control your breathing, you can’t control the weight. If you can’t control the weight, you don’t belong in the weight room.”
Our training sessions were no more than 1 hour. We did 4 exercises during each training session. That’s it! ONE HOUR! FOUR EXERCISES!!! I was in peak condition! Prior to that, I was a typical American punk, hanging out in the gym for 2-3 hours concerning myself with biceps, triceps and pecs. Training under Marc, I learned the true application of Less is More. I also became knowledgable of Total Body Conditioning.
There are 2 factors in American culture that cause us to waste so much time in the gym. The first factor is exercise machine manufacturers like Nautilus, Cybex, Universal and other similar types of training equipment. While these manufacturers have the best intentions, most machines focus on muscle isolation and provide a different machine for each and every stinking little muscle group. We’ve been conditioned by these machine manufacturers to spend our time in the gym working on every part of our body. Newsflash: That’s not the way we naturally move! The second factor to influence the American perspective on training is Body Building. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Tom Platz, Cory Everson were our fitness role models. We read their books and they taught us how to train like body builders – in parts. They also taught us to train to failure. Another BIG TIME SUCK: Training your body endlessly until it collapses. Training to failure only teaches the body how to fail! Pretty stupid concept when you consider it.
When it comes to time management, there are highly effective ways to eliminate wasted time in the gym.
1. Shut-up and Train!
Some people are trying to concentrate. No one wants to listen to you.
2. Limit each exercise to a maximum of 40 repititions.
3. Train with Total Body Exercises – Move away from machines and muscle isolation type exercises.
If you’re going to be redundant about anything in the gym, let it be this one phrase:
SUCK IT UP!
SUCK IT UP!