Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

It's Supposed To Be Hard, by Matthew Romans

People are often skeptical when they find out that a Total Results workout only lasts about twenty minutes, and they think that very little benefit can occur in such a short time. Many clients who come to Total Results after participating in a variety of other fitness regimens are somewhat surprised at how demanding our workouts are. It's simply not what they are used to. Other workout philosophies are marketed as fun activities that you can do with your friends while listening to music. A Total Results workout is not fun; we would never tell you otherwise. It is a workout that is brief, infrequent, and intense, and these characteristics are in place not because we are masochists, but because they are necessary. In order to safely stimulate optimal physical improvements, the workout must be hard.

Intensity is defined as inroad (level of fatigue)/time. Many people equate intensity of muscular effort with behaviors that are often found in a typical gym (throwing and catching weights, grunting, grimacing, etc.) These demonstrations only serve to increase your risk of injury and minimize muscular loading; they are not to be confused with true intensity of effort. How many people do you know that proclaim to do a variety of activities on a regular basis yet never seem to look any different? Don't be fooled by the appearance of the people riding bikes in those Peloton commercials; those are not the vast majority of Peloton users, they are actors who likely look the way they do in spite of their workout, not because of it. The human body is resistant to change and wants to maintain homeostasis, and making body improvements like building muscle and improving bone mineral density requires resources that are metabolically expensive. This means that the body needs a very compelling reason to change, and that reason is a fairly severe exercise stimulus.

In order to stimulate these physical and metabolic improvements, we must cross over a threshold in the body that sets off internal alarm bells. This threshold is called the growth mechanism, and it is most effectively accomplished by taking each exercise to and beyond the point of momentary muscular failure. We are essentially fooling the body into thinking that there is an existential threat, and the body responds by diverting resources to meet this threat, much like an army sends troop reinforcements into battle. However, it's important to understand that the body is not really in danger, but rather is in a safe environment. There are only two fully objective measurements of effort: zero and 100 percent. Anything in between is not really measurable (ex. "50% effort"). Zero effort will not result in any tangible benefit, but 100 percent effort will. We still do not know the exact percentage of effort necessary to stimulate muscular growth, but pushing to muscular failure, where movement ceases, and continuing to push for ten seconds (note: this is what 100% effort looks like) will ensure that we have done all that we can possibly do for that moment in time.

Our workouts are brief for a reason. If you are exercising with a high degree of effort and moving purposefully between exercises, twenty minutes is about all that one can handle. This is not just something that we can get away with, it is actually a biological necessity. It is critical to regulate the variables of exercise frequency, duration, and intensity, and there is an inverse relationship between intensity and duration. The longer a workout takes, the less intense it becomes, as the body has protective measures in place to guard against injury. There are some days that a workout may feel harder than others, but that can be due to a multitude of factors, such as sleep, stress, nutrition, additional activity performed, and order/selection of exercises in the routine. We usually have clients perform the larger exercises (particularly those for the lower body) earlier in the routine because they are the most demanding.

No worthwhile achievement in life has ever been considered easy. Total Results exercise methodology is not the only way to achieve physical improvements, but it is the most effective way, and it's the exercise protocol most consistent with the classical sciences (biology, physics, chemistry, and concepts of motor learning). Our clients are a special group of people. They are mentally tough, independent thinkers who value their time and want to maximize their benefits in an efficient way, and they grasp exercise concepts that elude most of the population. They work extremely hard and spend a fraction of the time exercising that most other people do. As I mentioned above, Total Results exercise is not fun. The fun occurs when you experience the tangible benefits of your efforts which enable you to get the most out of life. Don't put it off any longer!

Posted December 22, 2020 by Tim Rankin