Does your Apple Watch saying you burned 'x' amount of calories, breaking a sweat, and/or being so sore that you are barely able to move equal a good workout in your eyes?
Let's debunk that. Here's why those unfortunately are nowhere close to a certified metric for changing your health, let alone making an impact in your body composition and changing what your body looks like.
Is working out good for you? Absolutely.
Is sweating good for you? Absolutely.
However, there is a huge misconception in society that any workout that burns a ton of calories and makes you sweat, combined with eating less, will get you 'in shape.'
Pause for reflection: If this was actually the case, don't you think every single person who has tried to get in shape, would be successful?
People everywhere are actually putting in the work, now more than ever; they're sweating, busting their tails getting after it, doing workouts that pride themselves on high intensity and little rest and doing so day after day. Unfortunately, not only are people not seeing results, often times they're quite literally running themselves into the ground with increased body fat, increased inflammation, disrupting hormones, etc.
While our main focus is performance and overall health, we believe it is important for people to get the aesthetic results they desire when paying for a gym or workout. There is something to be said about having confidence in your body not only because of it matching who you are internally, but also because it is a representation of your consistency, discipline, and hard work.
Let's knock out what we presume most people are thinking, "Nutrition matters most." We agree.
If you aren't eating enough quality nutrients (macro and micro), you can, but probably won't out-exercise a bad diet; and if you aren't taking care of your mental health, stress, and sleep, the same concept applies: you can't out-exercise much. We firmly believe that when it comes to your health it goes in this order: 1. Nutrition 2. Sleep/Stress/Recovery 3. Exercise.
Why your choice of exercise matters
Consistency is the number one key; so, if you have been consistent with quality nutrition, sleep, and showing up in your workouts but are still not seeing results, allow us to drop some truth bombs.
1. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is great for improving body composition. Workouts that last 30-60 minutes with little to no rest are not (HIIT) workouts, and more than that, they are unlikely to produce results. The keyword being 'interval' here and without intervals of rest you cannot actually sustain 'high intensity.' What most of these workouts are actually structured as is what we would call moderate intensity steady state training (MISST). MISST workouts can look something like this, "30 MIN AMRAP: 12 deadlifts, 1:00 plank jacks, 12 burpees, etc." and they will usually leave you feeling depleted (also perhaps accomplished from sweating so much). When you continue to do this same or similar style of workout just with different moves day after day for months, your body can start to increase cortisol production in response to its perceived daily stress exposure. Cue body fat retention or even increased body fat rather than reducing body fat that comes with appropriate HIIT protocols.
2. There are different protocols, reps, sets, and rest when it comes to training for power, strength, hypertrophy, strength-hypertrophy, and muscular endurance. Rep amounts and your speed through movements could actually be the difference standing between you and seeing changes in muscular growth or definition.
3. Excessive 'cardio' or low intensity steady state cardiovascular training is not a surefire method for improving body composition. If you think training for a half marathon is going to help you lose weight or body fat, don't be so sure. If you are training because you enjoy running, keep training - crossing that finish line is worth every bit of the work!
4. While you are working out, muscle fibers break down. When you replenish your system with quality protein and get adequate rest, your body rebuilds the muscle typically stronger, and depending on protocols used: sometimes larger. Working the same muscle groups day after day without any opportunity for rest is rarely beneficial and usually means one of two things:
a. If you are able to work the same muscle groups day after day without any soreness or fatigue, you are probably not working the muscles enough in your workout to create any desired adaptations (strength, muscle growth, etc.).
b. If you are not giving muscle groups any rest, they are only continuing to breakdown rather than get stronger which means you are not only not seeing results, but you are also at an increased risk for rhabdomyolysis.
5. Movements with high joint impact (burpees, wall walks, uncontrolled box jumps, etc.) have a higher rate of inflammation production in the joints. A lot of people end up with achy joints that they just shrug off as 'part of getting old,' and don't realize that is one of the first signs of inflammation. Not all inflammation in the body is bad, but when the body experiences chronic excessive inflammation, the doors open to a long list of illness and disorders.
There has yet to be a one size fits all, get fit quick solution that does not sacrifice long term health. However, depending on the programming and your level of effort and commitment, there are faster and more efficient ways. Our focus at Assemble is to not only keep you healthy, but hopefully improve your health, while allowing you to achieve your performance and aesthetic goals.
Coming soon: "How many days should I be working out? How many days should I strength train, HIIT, etc.?"