The scale doesn’t tell the whole story.
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by Geoff Rand
Whenever I’m watching TV these days, the same commercial keeps coming on, the one for the Simply Fit board. If you’re fortunate enough to not be familiar, this device looks like someone left a skateboard in hot car and it got all warped. You’re supposed to balance on this thing and twist your way to a fitter you. You can watch the ridiculousness here.
Like many commercials for exercise equipment, the statements in the ad seem to be in contradiction with reality. One of the testimonial users says, “It’s so fun I don’t feel like I’m working out.” And the financial backer, Lori Greiner of Shark Tank says, “I like being toned, but I’m not big into working out or sweating.” If it doesn’t make you feel like you’re working out, you probably aren’t. My initial reaction was that this is just another piece of junk fitness equipment praying on the false hopes of the uninformed.
Now I’m not going to knock the efforts of someone who is going from sitting on the couch all day to doing some kind, any kind, of activity. Perhaps that sedentary person would see some results from the Simply Fit board, just like they would from any increase in their level of activity. However, they can only expect to see positive changes for a limited time with a device like that because the body will eventually adapt to the new stresses being placed upon it.
One of the reasons the CrossFit formula works is that it involves constant change. Changes in type of exercise, duration, tempo, and load all keep the body from getting used to any one thing. Our coaches take care of the programming for us, so we don’t need to think about it, only show up.
We do need to be a little more mindful of the workout when it comes to the strength portion where the loads are up to us to choose. We all have certain loads that we are comfortable with as it pertains to various lifts, but you want to avoid being comfortable. If you routinely grab a bar at the same load, say for hang power cleans, eventually your body is going to adapt to that weight, and you will stop seeing gains because your body is no longer being challenged.
You should be tracking the amount of weight you’ve done in your lifts along with the number of reps and any other variables in your day-to-day workouts. Use that information to know where to start and strive to increase load once you’ve been successful in a given movement, in proper form, at that load. Failing a lift is actually a good thing. It tells you what your limitations are and gives you a target to work towards.
One of the benefits of strength training is that the body continues to burn calories at rest to maintain that muscle. Having muscle also helps replace our jiggly areas with firmness.
I know some people have concerns about becoming too big or too muscular from lifting heavy, and I’ll tell you this. I have a co-worker whom I’ve worked with a long time who competes in physique competitions. In between competitions, she maintains a strong, fit look, nothing too crazy. When she gets into preparation mode for an upcoming competition, she changes her diet to a precisely calculated and timed number of meals, calories, and nutrients, and adds a daily intake of supplements she hauls around in a divided container that rivals some fishing tackle boxes I’ve seen. She also takes time off from work and works out more frequently under close supervision from her trainer, focusing on nothing other than preparation until the competition . The result is she does look pretty muscular during this preparation time, but once the competition is over and she goes back to her normal eating and workout routine, she returns to her lean, yet somewhat muscular, more normal look. Her competition physique is just not something that's easy to maintain. So know that if you are worried about turning into Arnold Schwarzenegger from lifting too heavy, unless you are following a super strict fitness and diet regimen, you won’t.
So continue to challenge yourself in your lifts. Get used to being uncomfortable. Strive to hit failure. Don’t let your body adapt. And know that we'll always make the workout fun, but we will never let you feel like you’re not working out.