Train Smarter, Not Just Harder

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The Biggest Winners PT Gym Blog

There is a growing popularity for very intense Boot camp style programs as the answer to our being whipped into condition. However, for the same reason that extreme diets fail for 95% of those that use them, any too extreme program will usually have a stronger failure rate than a success rate.

Although we do advocate specialized intense small group training programs at our facility, the programs are advised only for those in condition and are prescribed along with other more comprehensive modes of exercise. There are some positive points with these extremely intense workouts, but there are many negative points to consider. These points should not be ignored in an attempt to give exercisers a tough workout.

Although some of the non-traditional exercises used in such programs can be beneficial, many risks are involved with the way in which the workouts are conducted. Speed is usually emphasized over proper form. Unfortunately, I believe some rogue trainers don’t take the key exercise concepts into account, and just want to make their clients feel like they were worked really hard. Other problems exist with this ‘hard core’ philosophy. First, no differentiation is made in the workouts for different levels of fitness. Senior citizens and deconditioned participants are supposed to do the same workouts as elite athletes. The second contraindication to this type training is the rebellious nature of the participants who view injuries as badges of honor.

Proper strength training must consider the progressive overload principle, with progressive being the key word. Beginners should definitely not jump right into one of these workouts. They need to start gradually with exercise and follow sound training programs to build their fitness and strength levels gradually in order to avoid injury.

Even experienced exercisers are taking big risks with some of these routines. Associated Press (Oct 2008) reported an ex-sailor winning a $300,000 lawsuit against a Manassas World Gym over an exercise he says left him permanently disabled. Makimba Mimms says the CrossFit workout he did in 2005 caused him to urinate blood and his legs to swell.

In a similar story, a NY Times article reported that Brian Anderson, a former Army Ranger, had to go to the emergency room the night after completing one of these workouts. Doctors informed him that he had developed rhabdomyolysis, which occurs when muscle fiber breaks down and is released into the bloodstream. He spent six days in intensive care. Rhadomyolysis is a life threatening injury. It’s not a hard workout where you just get sore. It is serious cellular structural damage than can poison your kidneys and kill you.

Even without a concern for injury why would you want to go through needless pain and discomfort with a program that has not been proven to be more effective in the long run than a more scientifically sound and safer comprehensive program? Be sure to balance appropriate intensity levels with the other factors important in having an effective and safe program that you will be able to stick with. In other words train hard but most importantly train smart!