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The curious case of fancy workouts!!

Dara Singh Handa
Dara Singh Handa
We live in a society which has information overload. Type anything on Google and you'll end up getting hundreds of options and advertisements. In this era, the one who succeeds will be the one who learns to selectively choose information and concentrate on what's important. People always get lured by the fancy workout they see on the social media. Most of them promise you magical results. A beginner is most vulnerable to such marketing gimmicks. I was guilty of this too. When I was 18 years old, I used to search for the exercise which burns maximum fat. I tried them all and never got the results I was looking for. I started educating myself and that's how things started changing. Luckily I was always interested in getting strong and somehow I did the right thing always coupled with lot of unnecessary stuff. Here are few points to keep in mind before you get choose a workout/exercises.

 1. The actual goal(body recomposition)
Body composition is the percentage of bone, muscle, fat, water to the total body mass. For our purposes we are concerned with the ratio of muscle to fat. Most of the people have an goal to improve their body composition. They may not understand it but that's what they want. Let's say you want to lose fat, or build muscle or look toned or improve health markers, all boils down to reducing/maintaining fat and gaining/maintaining muscle mass maximally. If that's the goal then one should work on ways that make it happen appropriately. The best way to do that is to do progressive resistance training and a diet as per your goal with enough protein in it. No magical exercise burns more fat or makes you gain more muscle. Fatloss is an outcome of a deficit while holding onto the muscle mass as much as possible. This way body taps fat sources maximally for energy.  Muscle gain is an outcome of a Calorie surplus and the stimulus for muscle growth. 

2. Progression not exhaustion 
People often confuse a good workout with the one the makes the sweat a lot or makes them tired. It's easy to make a workout tiring. Just run a flight of stairs for 10mins without stopping much or just do as many burpees as you can in 5mins. You'll be gasping for air and half dead. All you are doing here is challenging your cardiovascular system. While it is important to challenge your cardiovascular system, that's not how you make long term progress and improve body composition. Excessive cardio can lead to muscles loss and negative affect the body composition. You have to makesure that you don't lose your muscle mass much while maximally lose fat. For that your have to focus on progression. Cardiovascular benefits can also be achieved by resistance training and  reducing the time you finish the workout without reducing the loads used.You have to make sure you are getting stronger and are able do more than what you used to do. Many a times this may not leave you breathless or tired but as long as you are getting stronger or being able to do workout more than before, you are good. 

3. Preparedness of the body and safety
We often see models doing fancy workouts on the internet. It may involve various jumps, handstands, different postures and equipment. This may make you think that they have the body because of those workout. This isn't true always. A major consideration is about your body's readiness to do a certain movement. There's a difference between the effect of jump on a 50kg young female model who's been active all her life and 90kg middle aged woman who has been sedentary in her life. When you land after a jump, your body may experience a force that is equal to five times your body weight. When you balance that force by bending your knees, other areas of your leg help absorb the shock so your knees are more protected. The lean model has lesser force acting on her joints when she lands from a jump. Her muscle mass may be more and her joints are more used to these forces. The chances of her getting injured is lesser. On the other hand the middle aged lady may be more prone to injury as her body weight is high, more force acting on her joints, lesser muscle mass maybe and joints not used to the forces. That's why you see many people getting injured doing aerobics, zumba and so on. It's not that the exercises is injury prone but your body may not be prepared for it.  Don't do something because it looks good. Think about your safety. The safest way to training is to do progressive resistance training. You can always control the way you are moving, choose easier alternatives or train half range. Slowly your joints get stronger, your bone density increases and you get stronger and musclar. If coupled with a good diet for long enough, you'll lose a lot of fat too. Maybe then you can choose to try some fancy moves just for fun. 

4. Trackability
It is said that you cannot control something which cannot be counted. This is aptly applicable to diet and workouts. Often a fancy workout doesn't allow people to track their progress because the exercises keep changing frequently. These workouts may not be the best for body recomposition. You have to be clear with your goals. It's not about how different exercises you can do. It's about how we'll you can progress to gain/maintain muscle mass and eventually be better at your final goal. Choose a workout which enables you to track your progess. You should track even after years of training. That's how you get to know that you are improving and progressing. No matter how good you think you are at keeping mental notes of the reps sets and exercises you did, you cannot remember everything. Develop a habit of noting down everything. Trackability is of utmost importance. A fun fact- The 6 time Mr Olympia, Dorian Yates has his workout data from the time he started training. He credits his professional success to his habit of tracking. 


5. The misconception about Body's adaptation
Many people try different workouts and change exercises frequently. When they stop getting results, they think that their body is used to a certain exercise or workout. That's not the case mostly. I have been deadlifting for more than 8 years now and it's still working for me. The difference is that I started with 60kg and now I can do it with 250kg. Atheletes are doing it for 40years and it's still working for them. Exercise is just a way to make your muscles work against a certain of resistance for a certain range of motion mostly from extension to contracting and vice versa. Your muscles are meant to work in that range of motion. Stating that an exercise stopped working for you no matter how you do is an illogical statement. What may have happened is that the load you are using might be less for you and you body might have adapted to it. The solution is simple. Increase the load.