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Be Your Own Lab Rat

by Chris Frankel, Director of Programming TRX

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Being a gym rat is good as long as you know how to change things up a bit.

Before I started working full time at Fitness Anywhere, I taught Exercise Science to undergraduate and graduate students. I have always been a gym rat, nick named Willard in college because I spent all my free time (and some class time) in the gym. While there are different levels of scientific investigation all are based on the scientific method.

The scientific method can be broken down to four stages:

  1. You observe and describe some phenomena in the environment.
  2. You formulate a hypothesis, or best guess at an explanation based on the information you have.
  3. Based on your hypothesis you make predictions.
  4. Collect more controlled information (data) to test your hypothesis.
Now, knowing most of us in the Fitness Anywhere community tend to be type A, high intensity workout fiends I have a hypothesis for you to test for yourself. But first here is a little background. I go around the country working with people of all fitness levels. If I show them four or five progression of an exercise they almost always remember the hardest one. And those that cannot perform the highest level of intensity strive to get there. Once most of us get to a higher level of intensity of an exercise or program we hardly ever look back.

So here is the premise of this first installment of Be Your Own Lab Rat. Just because you can perform a certain progression of an exercise don't be fooled into thinking you always have to be working harder and striving to make it steeper or more unstable. There is a concept in training called periodization which basically means systematic loading and unloading of training variables, traditionally volume (number of reps and sets) and intensity (amount of resistance).

Here is the experiment. Select one workout every four to five workouts and perform your exercises at a lower progression than usual. For example, if you are used to doing TRX Suspended Lunges at a fast tempo or with a hop, do them a little slower, without the hop and really perfect your form. Focus on the quality of the movement and sequencing the body. This will provide an unloading stimulus and an opportunity for perfecting form and motor learning. I often purposely do an entire workout, Ropes and Straps: Bootcamp for example, at the lowest progressions. I still get a great workout and I can perfect my form. [Ed. Note - this concept can be applied to all phases of training and all types of exercise, not just the TRX.]

Try this approach for a couple of weeks and see if your overall performance improves.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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