Why Cookie Cutter Workouts Just Don't Cut It...
As a professional in my field, I'm taken back when snake oil salespeople, magic six-week fixes and most recently - online coaches and motivators infiltrate the market and promote their cheerleading, "outcome based" results to the hungry, misinformed and naive general public. Promises to "cut fat", "pack on muscle" and get 6 pack abs in 8 weeks are nothing new to the industry, but I draw the line when completely uncertified personnel are at the helm.
In this article, I want to dispel the myths commonly associated with these fad training programs and online gimmicks. I will set the record straight on who exactly (if anyone) these programs are good for and all the safer, healthier and more realistic alternatives to achieving a sustainable, "behaviour focused" lifestyle. By the end of this, I will hammer home the importance of carefully periodized exercise and nutrition programming for those of us serious about making any lifestyle changes actually stick.
Myth #1: You Will Pack On Muscle With This ___ Week At-Home Workout!
Well maybe. But probably not. Here's why: Science.
You simply cannot do enough loaded volume to promote muscular development inside 6-8 weeks. Many of these online programs from BeachBody et al rave about how much muscle you can growThe new or returning fitness-goer doesn't have the neuro-capacity (the brain can't send signals effectively enough) to promote muscular growth without a solid 8 weeks of slow, primal movements, focused on coordination, proprioception (how well your body moves in space) and time under tension. When you start moving your body weight around (calisthenics) you certainly get a pump. And sure, you will add lean tissue with enough work, but it's a bit of a stretch to think that you'll add 5-10 lbs. You need to get to a hypertrophy model and unfortunately most people will plateau long before they see size or muscular development.
Myth #2: You'll Burn Fat With Just 20 Minutes of HIIT Four Days Per Week
What the eff is HIIT, you ask?
Check out this Article that explains it: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-hiit
Okay, so now that you've read that I can explain to you why for the average exerciser, this kind of programming is a sure-fire way to increase risk of injury, plateaus and general overtrain/overstrain issues. Without a foundational stage of exercise, the body will not maximize its results from this kind of metabolic conditioning phase. The whole idea behind jumping into high-volume, high-intensity exercise with limited rest and technique that hasn't been coached into near-perfection shows just a lack of integrity from those Fitness Professionals that promote this to anyone but the advanced users. Knee pain, back injuries, shoulders getting tweaked, you name it - I've seen it all. And while I'm still in business because of the lack of care and sheer greed from other platforms... preying on the naivety of the consumer... it's only because I and others like me that train with integrity get to help inspire those that tried the cookie cutter workout, got hurt, now resent fitness and have a bummed knee to boot. Perfect, right? Wrong. I just wish the marketing would put better warnings on these online programs and actually change their verbiage so as not to bait people that just wanna get moving and feeling better.
Myth #3: Online Programs are for the people that just don't have time to go to a gym, hire a trainer and/or would just rather do it themselves
My personal favourite. The "time" thing. Oh yeah, your days are totally shorter than mine. Nope. I do believe everyone has the same amount of time in a day. We tend to spend it differently, thats all. So while you'd rather sleep at 6 am, that guy is up kicking it with me in a session before work. It's not even a discipline thing. Discipline is bullshit. You either love A or you love B. And if B is chicken wings and beer on Wednesday with the guys, so be it. But don't say you don't have time to get to the gym. You can. Everyone can.
Hiring a trainer nowadays is just simply the smartest thing someone that has little to no experience with exercise can do. Period.
For those of you reading this saying "I'd rather do it myself", I'd offer "Okay, I'd rather you check your ego at the door anyway." We wouldn't work well together." People don't go to the dentist and then tell Doc that the crown isn't happening. Not a chance, right? Why? Because they're the dentist is the professional. The Fitness Professional you hire is there for a reason. Do your research and find the person you like and get to work. If you'd rather take a lifetime to get half as far, suffer multiple injuries and never see the results you expected because it's not in the human condition to hold ourselves accountable, then go for it. Do it yourself.
Okay, so now that we've cleared the air on three big myths, what can we do with these cookie cutter programs? Are they good for anyone?
The answer is: absolutely they are.
The programs you can find as part of BeachBody, P90x, Insanity etc... are all great tools to supplement a properly periodized lifestyle program, including movement, nutrition and mindset coaching tailored towards you and your goals. If you're unfamiliar with the term "periodization", you should reach out and we should chat over the phone or Skype or something. Think of it as the game plan to get from point A to point B in a realistic and safe manner. If you don't lay the groundwork for the later stages, the whole house comes crumbling down when a strong breeze comes up. This is the blueprint. Follow the plan.
Generally speaking these cookie cutter programs are tailored towards folks that are impatient, have procrastinated their lifestyle, would still like to eat pizza and drink wine and beer on the weekends and/or gossip with their friends about the intense workout they just completed at home on lunch break. Not as cool when you put it all that way, eh?
If you're not concerned about sustainable results or addressing the behavioural challenges and habitual tendencies and then working to overcome them in an effort to support a lifestyle that is sustainable, healthy and active, one of these programs is going to do the trick. If you're looking for a fun way to move around and be a little reckless, as long as you have the understanding that you will likely not get to your full results without professional one on one attention, and possibly open yourself up to a flurry of injuries then go for it. Have a blast with something from Tony Horton.
But if you're someone that wants long-term, lifestyle oriented, sustainable results stay away from anything like this. If you want to get the movements right, understand the science behind exercise and are ready to take yourself to the next level in all aspects of your life, hire a coach. Invest into yourself. You deserve it.