Inroading vs Outroading - The most important aspect of your workout - by Matthew Romans
Posted October 29, 2019 by Matthew Romans
Most of my friends, family, and business acquaintances know (or think they know) what I do for a living, so the topic of exercise regularly comes up even when I am not in the office. I talk about exercise at networking events, social functions, and even at the dentist's office. While I talk freely about exercise when I'm networking, in most casual and non-work related situations I rarely bring up the topic, and will only discuss it if someone else brings it up. The reason for this is that most people who have never set foot in our Total Results studio (or a studio with a similar philosophy) have a very misguided idea of what exercise is, and can often be as emotionally attached to their fitness regimen as they are to their religious or political views. The Total Results exercise philosophy is based on the classical sciences and can be largely summed up by one very important word: inroad.
What is inroad? It is the process where the musculature is systematically fatigued deeply enough to create a stimulus for the body to make improvements. Inroading is deliberate, mindful, purposeful, and rational. As instructors, we often make the distinction between the assumed exercise objective versus the real exercise objective. Inroad is the real objective. Since the human body is fairly resistant to change, we have to give it a very good reason to make the physical improvements that are very metabolically expensive. This is why it is important to push to and beyond momentary muscular failure on each exercise, as this is the stimulus that our body interprets as a threat to its well-being. This perceived threat is what stimulates the body to increase muscle and bone density, improve cardiac output and metabolic conditioning, and maintain insulin sensitivity. Because the exercise stimulus is so intense, it's very important to regulate the volume and frequency of exercise so that you do not exceed your body's capacity to recover and make improvements. Exercise has a "narrow therapeutic window", and too frequent or too high a volume of exercise can lead to overtraining, illness, and injury.
Outroading is the opposite of inroading, as you might suspect. It is instinctive, irrational, and largely unconscious. While many gym rats and bodybuilding/fitness enthusiasts purposely perform a higher volume of activity to avoid intense exercise (and delude themselves into thinking that they're really doing more), some knowledgeable trainees are guilty of outroading as well. Outroading behaviors are those behaviors that bring uninvolved musculature into play and inhibit the exercise stimulus. These behaviors can include excessive gripping, facial grimacing, Valsalva/breath holding, shifting and adjusting while under load, off/oning, and unloading the musculature. It must be noted that most trainees do not purposely commit form discrepancies; these are largely natural urges done to make things momentarily easier. While these may momentarily make things somewhat easier, they divert your focus from the primary objective (inroad), and can also increase your risk for injury. Grimacing, gripping, and Valsalva can spike your blood pressure to dangerously high levels and also lead to an exercise-induced headache. Shifting, wiggling, and adjusting while under load can unevenly load your pelvis and spine and lead to a multitude of injuries. Speeding up your movement can unload your musculature and increase the force placed upon your muscles, connective tissue, and joints (remember, force=mass x acceleration). In order to maximize benefit and minimize your risk for injury, we need to avoid outroading behaviors.
What can you do to maximize your inroad/exercise stimulus?
First, remain calm. One of the most important duties of an exercise instructor is to help the client keep their emotions in check. It's very natural to have feelings of anxiety and panic once the exercise becomes difficult, but this can often lead to unsafe behaviors or even stopping the exercise prematurely. Even though the body interprets intense exercise as a threat, it's actually performed in a very safe and controlled environment.
Second, keep an open mind. When the above scenario occurs and panic sets in, your mind closes up and you are unable to process and execute instructions. No matter how uncomfortable the exercise becomes, keep your wits about you and think through the process.
Third, don't run from the discomfort, chase after it. This is a phrase that I've borrowed from our former colleague Al Coleman, and I think it speaks volumes. Much of the anxiety that clients often experience comes from the muscular discomfort they experience toward the end of an exercise, and it can do a psychological number on you if you allow it. Don't give into the fear; once things become uncomfortable, embrace the struggle and what you're accomplishing. If you have that mindset, you'll find that the burning sensation you experience is not nearly as bad as you thought, and that it's only temporary.
Fourth, breathe freely. Not only is free and continuous breathing essential for maximizing your inroad, it gives you something else to focus on besides exertional discomfort. Breathing freely enables you to get oxygen to your working muscles, and it also allows you to blow off carbon dioxide and keep the pH levels in your muscles from becoming too low (this can induce muscular failure prematurely).
Finally, focus on one repetition at a time. Try to make each individual repetition your masterpiece. Strive for flawless turnarounds and a consistent pace and speed of movement at all times. Don't worry about the next exercise, or how many repetitions you complete. Stay in the moment.
This is where working with a Total Results instructor is critically important. We can correct form discrepancies, find the optimal exercise dosage, keep you in the proper frame of mind, and help you achieve a more effective exercise stimulus than you can get anywhere else. While our workouts are intense and uncomfortable, they are also brief and infrequent. Let us show you the way.