“Go hard or go home!” – this popular ego-boosting quote has been used by countless coaches, athletes and of course, hard-core gym rats all over the world. While it sounds cool for the serious trainee, it can be a bit scary when misunderstood by the general fitness enthusiast.
The reality is…it’s all relative…
What may be hard for one person may be really easy for another, and vice versa. The key to success is each person must train his/her hardest because training intensity is critical for stimulating muscle growth and maximizing fat loss to achieve a strong, slim & sexy body.
To better understand this, we need to address another fact…
“You can either go hard or go long, but you can’t do both.”
Think about it…
The harder and faster you drive your car the faster you’re going to empty the tank. There is only so much fuel available. This works exactly the same way when you exercise. You only have so much fuel (energy) available. The harder you workout the faster you’re going to run out of energy.
Unfortunately, most people trying to lose weight and get in shape are misinformed. They interpret “more is better” as longer is better so they do endless amounts of reps and sets or do bouts of long, slow, God-awful boring, cardio.
But, they’re way off because studies show that the maximum training effect will occur in 30-45 minutes or less! In fact, there’s plenty of empirical evidence (I’ve seen it firsthand) showing significant benefit from 15-20 minute workouts…when done right.
The truth is, the correct approach to exercise for weight loss is…
More work in the same period of time (or less) is better.
While two workouts can be isocaloric, that doesn’t mean they’re isometabolic.
Simply put, this means that just because two workouts burn the same number of calories (isocaloric) that doesn’t mean they’re going to have the same effect on your metabolism (isometabolic).
This is where intensity comes into play and training harder is often more beneficial for fat loss goals than training longer. This is good news for those of us who are short on time….
Side Note: YES. There is benefit from building aerobic base with longer, low intensity workouts. But, for the sake of this article and because of the clients I work with most, I’m focusing on efficiency and effectiveness for busy people…
Density describes the amount of work completed in a certain period of time.
Work describes total training volume, which equals number of reps you perform for each exercise times the loads/exercise variations used to do so.
The more work you complete in the same amount of time the greater the density and the greater the metabolic effect – more muscle gain and more fat loss!
While the idea of density training has been around since Arnold’s day, it was brought back into the mainstream in 2005 and taken to a whole new level by coach Charles Staley in his book Muscle Logic.
Since then, it has become more commonplace as group personal training programs have become more popular – density training is a favorite approach among top coaches who work with groups.
Staley has popularized the concept of performing maximum rounds for time using repeated sets of sub-maximal effort vs. the more traditional approach of maximum effort (weight/reps) to failure.