Is your current method of training really the most effective and quickest way to reach your goals?

Within fitness there’s so many different ways to train such as spin, body pump, Metafit, kettlebells, barbells for bodybuilding, strength, olympic lifts, running, cycling, swimming etc. 

And everyone has their favourite and thinks that their way is “THE WAY”. 

You might hear that you need to lift more weights, or do strength training…

Or maybe you need more cardio?

Most people who I work with generally want to feel fitter and look a bit better, be less jiggly, leaner, toned, more defined…

Here is my take on the best way to train in order to build muscle, move better, get stronger, stay lean and continue making progress!

Specialisation V Generalisation 

Specialisation is when you focus on 1 type of training, like runners need to run in order to be competitive, olympic weight lifters need to do olympic weight lifting etc…

The more you lean towards specialisation the more time you need to spend doing that, when I was doing my 1000 mile running challenge I was doing 20-30 miles every week for the year, that was about 3 miles a day every single day.

Yes I got better at running, but I had to spend more time doing it and when I was training for events it was sometimes hours a day running.

This left no time for all the other stuff, so in order to get better at running and complete the challenge I ended up getting weaker, injured and fatter! 

Injured because I was doing so much repetitive movement and weaker because I had less time and energy to train in the gym, fatter because I never addressed my nutrition and thought I had a free pass to eat what I liked due to running nearly every day!

Specialisation happens within fitness all the time, think strength training, bodybuilding, HIIT, spin, running etc. 

We tend to specialise in the stuff we like and are good at, so we spend more time doing it and don’t actually do the stuff we need to reach our goals! 

Let that sink in for a second…

You are saying doing too much of the stuff I like is taking me further away from my goals?

YES if your goal is to stay injury free, move better, stay lean, tone up, get stronger, fitter, improve your health and well being then specialising might not be the most “EFFECTIVE” way!

If you want to learn something quickly, compete in a sport like body building, power lifting, olympic lifting, cycling, running etc then you need to Specialise! 

I’m not saying you have to give up doing stuff you enjoy, I’m saying you might want to include other stuff you are missing to help with your goals.

I consider myself an “everyday athlete” I want to be able to lift heavy weights, jump, run, cycle, swim, climb, stay injury free, build muscle, improve my health, movement and feel capable to tackle life’s challenges, while feeling comfortable with my top off at the beach!

As “everyday athletes” our time is limited, we don’t have hours every day to train so the time we spend training has to be effective!

I am working on being a very good generalist, basically doing a wee bit of everything to take me towards those goals – when I say a wee bit of everything it’s not just randomly doing stuff, it’s a detailed generalised programme that get’s me better at the fitness components below in the quickest most effective way to reach my goals!

I need to build muscle to help against ageing (and allow me to eat more calories), to get strong to make my daily living and activities easier, I need to be able to produce power when sprinting, jumping or playing sports and I also need to have a good engine (healthy heart and lungs) so I can play and do the stuff I want without gasping for air or feeling like I can’t breathe. My movement quality and mobility is also important to prevent injury and allows me to move pain free. Combined with consistent healthy nutrition I can stay lean and feel comfortable in my clothes and at the beach.

So here’s the stuff that I do and include in our programming at Reactive: 

Resistance Training – Hypertrophy (muscle building) – Think resistance training using body weight, free weights or machines, using light to medium weights for higher reps and volume 10-20 reps for 3-5 sets, body builders predominately use this method and it includes a lot of short range and isolation work – the downside being that too much can reduce flexibility and movement – think about the body builder who can’t scratch their own back! 

Resistance Training – Strength – Think resistance training with heavier weights at lower reps and volume 3-6 reps for 3-5 sets, builds strength but not necessarily size or muscle so less definition/toning (remember we loose muscle as we age) This is more demanding on the tendons, ligaments and nervous system meaning recovery takes longer and less aerobic carry over – meaning too much focus on this can impact aerobic fitness, increase injury risk without proper deloads and recovery.

Resistance Training – Power – 1-3 reps for 3-5 sets lifted fast, think Olympic lifts and plyometrics like jumping, very demanding on both aerobic systems and there’s normally a skill element involved meaning takes a longer to learn. Higher risk of injury due to impact, speed and skill. 

Mobility – Think of flexibility is your passive range of motion meaning less strength and control, mobility is your active range of motion so flexibility with strength and control. Lack of flexibility/mobility impacts on your ability to move well and do certain lifts, such as being able to get into the correct positions for Olympic lifts / Deadlift, too much flexibility without the strength from just stretching increases the injury risk. 

Anaerobic Endurance – your short term energy system, think sprints and max intensity work like HIIT. Too much of this type of work taxes the nervous system and recovery which again increases injury risk. 

Aerobic Endurance – long term energy system, think 5k jog and lower intensity work like walking. Too much aerobic work can be repetitive think of running or rowing the repetitive movement and impact can lead to injury and niggles. 

Nutrition – The food we eat not only affects our weight but it’s the energy we need for training and life, when you eat rubbish you feel rubbish! Eating healthy the majority of the time helps me with my goals with some wiggle room for me to enjoy life without damaging my progress or making me feel like shit! 

I get that that’s a lot of stuff to work on and for someone who isn’t a fitness professional or someone new to exercise it can seem overwhelming and you wouldn’t know where to start.

Everything we do at Reactive Training Gym is geared exactly towards being a very good “generalist”, there’s a very detailed programme that helps you work towards all of the things mentioned so that you can keep improving quickly and moving towards your goals. When you fully commit and buy in to the process of being a “generalist” its life changing and liberating, it’s a path to good health and wellbeing.

If you want to experience what we do and try it for yourself we offer a 6 week trial just drop me a message at: [email protected] and we can get you started :)