Steve liked his work, but it afforded him very little free time. He worked long hours, and he was at point in his life that he had invested so much in his education and his career that he really needed to follow through with this time commitment. Add to that the commitment to family, and he had little time or inclination to set aside time for exercise. His situation was not all that uncommon.
John Kelly's blog
Can trying to get one extra rep result in the set being less safe and less intense at the same time?
You got nine repetitions the last workout session. You sure would like to get that tenth rep. As a result of getting the extra rep, and as a form of self-protection, the body will make a positive adaptation (become stronger). This is a protocol that works if it's done correctly.
The trouble is, in the process, corners are often cut, and the exercise can become less safe and less intense. If the work is not of a sufficient intensity there is no reason for the body to become stronger. High-intensity work places place demands on the system that require the system to adapt positively to survive.
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina our clients began trickling back into town, and there was a return to normalcy. They began scheduling appointments again. Most had not exercised in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
I expected them to be weaker. I decided to conduct an experiment. I put them through their previous workout, and I did not lighten the weights. I did not offer them any added encouragement, I did not give them a target to reach, and I told them to stop at whatever point they wanted to. It was a very interesting result.
Most all of the clients got all of their reps. Some were off a repetition, but that's about it. We were doing slow reps, so one repetition can take about 20 seconds. So in total they were off at most 20 seconds on a 90 to 120 second exercise. Within a workout or two they were totally back up to speed.
Are advertised offers of free workouts really free? Well, of course they are not but what is really going on here? There is always a catch. Some catches are bad and others are not.
In 34 my years in the fitness industry, I have worked at lots of health clubs and have seen a lot of things. Some things are amazing, some bizarre, and some just stick in my mind as a teachable moment for me. This is one of those memories.
The trainer said to her “Just one more" six times. By the third extra rep the client’s form was shot, and she was almost standing up in the machine. By the fourth rep she was clearly panicked. By the fifth rep she looked over at me as if to say WFT! I just shrugged my shoulders.
The trainer had no idea what the client was capable of or how fatigued she was on that particular set. If he did know he would not have had to say “Just one more” six times.
He wasn't aware. A trainers should do more that set the weights, count the reps, and say “Just one more’ redundantly until the client can't move anymore.
From this study, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss comes this:
A thirty second all-out sprint of on a bike, recover at a reduced RPM, repeat four to six times. Do this three times a week for two to six weeks.
1. Increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
2. Significantly lowers insulin resistance
3. Skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation
Eight years ago as Katrina was raging towards New Orleans I was deciding whether or not I should leave. I went into a restaurant in Metairie that was still open. I asked the restaurant owner why he was still open. He told me he was leaving soon; his workers were going to stay. I asked why. He told me the generals always leave; the soldiers stay. That was all I needed to hear; I boarded up my business and my house. With three dogs and one other passenger I headed across Lake Pontchartrain.
Amazingly traffic was light; it was still a day before it got really serious. I decided to stay off the bumper-to-bumper interstates. I made it by country roads with not much traffic all the way to Hattiesburg, and the next day we traveled onward half way across the country. We were treated with kindness wherever we went, and the hotels were happy to accept the dogs.
Muscles have to be exposed to more than they are used to handling if there is to be a positive change. Hopefully that is done in a safe manner. Confronted with a state of fatigue that is beyond what the body is used to, the body, as self-protection, will make a positive adaption by becoming stronger if given enough recovery time.
There are three stages of fatigue associated with resistance training. When you can no longer lift or move a weight you've reached concentric or positive failure. When you can no longer hold the weight you've reached static failure. This produces a deeper fatigue than positive failure. When you can no longer stop a weight from falling or lowering you've reached negative or eccentric failure. This is the deepest fatigue. Eccentric failure is best conducted with a trainer or spotter and on equipment where it can be safely performed.
Ted was a gifted runner. In his late forties his knees began to aggravate him, and they got worse each year. At age 54 his doctor advised him to stop running. He started strength training with the aim of getting back to running.
We worked around his condition for a while and slowly incorporated leg exercises into the routine - leg curl, calf raises, leg press, adduction, abduction, squats, and occasionally partial leg extensions.
Ted wanted to start running again. He did and the next day his was limping again. I told him, “You are able to lift 450 pounds on the leg press to a very deep fatigue to the point where your legs are unable to move, and the next day you have not a hint of pain.” For Ted with adequate rest after strength training he came back stronger each week. With running there was no recovery or improvement, only injury.
I once asked a trainer what he was trying to accomplish with his clients. He said, “I'm there to get them stronger and to improve their health.” I told him I didn't need him for that. I can buy running shoes and head out the door. I can go to gym and pick up weights. He countered that he was there to teach clients how to exercise correctly. I came back with the fact that anyone can go to the bookstore and buy any number of books on how to do it correctly.
I don't know what the role of a trainer is in other systems or gyms. There are several ways of approaching it. My thoughts on the subject have been shaped by my interactions with clients. A client once told me I come here to get a workout I could not get on my own. She said, “If I can do it on my own I don't need you anymore”. That really stuck with me.
I had another client whom I told, “You know you could figure this out on your own”. She replied, “I have two businesses and three kids. I pay you to figure it out for me”.
I think both are correct.