I think there are three classifications of working out that correspond to different parts of the year/your schedule – training, working out and exercise. If your super busy, then you probably shouldn’t be doing any training.
Training is goal focused, time committed, DRIV-ICATION!
Let me explain further. I have a lot going on right now – Jamie and I are getting married IN EXACTLY ONE MONTH!!! Holy shit balls. Plus, it’s been about 6 months since my last chemo round AND I am getting back into the gym full time. From January of last year to March of this year I lost over 10 pounds of muscle. That sucked. I worked hard to gain that mass and it was heartbreaking to see my body whither away from the chemo.
Side Note – The weight didn’t didn’t wither away that much, but rather I lost muscle and gained a substantial amount of fat. Cachexia be damned! Cachexia is muscle wasting/weight loss associated with chemo. Well, I lost the muscle but gained some fat thanks to my little friend (maybe I will talk more about him later 😉
It was tough going from this…
After chemo, I was READY to start TRAINING. But first, I had to build my body back up, so I started with EXERCISING before moving into WORKING OUT, then I TRAINED to get my lean body mass back.
Which incidentally was ALMOST a success, I gained about 7 pounds of the 10 I lost. The other 3 pounds will come back eventually, but not right now.
I will get my guns back.
The exercising consisted of walking and biking with some light resistance training and yoga. Truth be told, I was just happy to be able to get out of the house without throwing up. That lasted for roughly 3 months, from September to December. In December and January, I started to work out. I pushed it harder, incorporated more resistance training and more interval training. In February I started TRAINING.
I was so happy to finally be able to just WALK with out getting winded.
From November to May my goal was to get back down to under 15% body fat (from over 20%), get my lean body mass back up to 150 pounds (from 140) AND work on getting my strength back (interestingly my strength came back much faster in my upper body than my lower body). PLUS I wanted to start my new life. They say that after you go through cancer treatment you are never the same.
I can say I agree with that 100%. The old Ben is gone, he was burned off with the cancer cells. The new Ben is still trying to figure out where he fits in all of this. But god damn it if he doesn’t have close to his old body back!
As of April 14th – I hit almost all of those goals. Now I could still lean out a little bit more before the wedding, however, I am choosing to drop back to just working out and moving away from training for the next month. And, I am still trying to figure out who the new me is, but it’s coming along.
Here’s why – I am busy. Busy with planning the wedding. Busy with working more. Busy with getting my life back.
This time last year I was losing my hair, starting my 2nd round of chemo and watching the world go by around me while I sat and played video games, watched Netflix (it might sound like fun, but going from a very driven and healthy state to not having enough energy to walk and talk wasn’t fun….and trust me on this fellas, while it may seem like your missing playing video games and vegging out, no one got healthy and/or successful by just doing that) and counted down the days until my next treatment.
When you wake up and have every day like that…watching the world around you change and evolve and your looking down at your fingernails bending back while you’re trying to open a can of club soda…it can be pretty depressing.
Let’s review the three stages of working out before we get deeper. Understand that you should NEVER just “go to the gym” without a goal in mind. Whether that goal is to improve your body composition, get stronger or just to stave off aging, there should always be a goal.
1. Training – You are 100% focused on your goal, nothing can get in your way. You want to lose 10 pounds, or improve your deadlift, or do a tough mudder, etc. This level requires time, commitment and probably a pretty hefty dose of improving/working on your diet. You are 100% focused on your goal, nothing can get in your way. You want to lose 10 pounds, or improve your deadlift, or do a tough mudder, etc. This level requires time, commitment and probably a pretty hefty dose of improving/working on your diet.
2. Working out – You are focused on your goal…but maybe not committed to it. While working out your goal is to keep at least 80% of the results you got up to this point, ideally 90%.
3. Exercising – You think about your goal, but realize that right now, it’s probably best just to go in, get a workout in to maintain your results and go home.
Training is meant to happen for 4-16 week blocks. Why 4-16 weeks? Because most people have a life. Training takes 100% focus on yourself. You have to get those workouts in, you have to (maybe) get those calories in or really focus on your diet. Life needs to take a back seat because you are FOCUSED 100% on that goal related to your body.
Not the time to be training for anything…except to SURVIVE!
Working out is a step down from training. Are you supposed to get 4 workouts in? Maybe you get 3 this week plus an at home circuit. Are you supposed to eat 4 meals or hit 2000 calories? Maybe you were just too busy to really focus on eating. During the working out stage, the diet tends to take the first hit as that’s the most time-consuming.
Exercising? Well now, that’s party season. If you are a dedicated gym goer, you probably won’t ever really get to this level and instead bounce around between working out and training. Exercising is moving around with the goal of improving your baseline health. Walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, some group fitness classes, etc. Those are all examples of exercising. The diet during exercising tends to be in the lines of “what diet?”. Another way to think about exercising is what you do if you go on a week long vacation. You enjoy your vacation life while still being active. At least that’s what KDR members are told to do!
You need time to TRAIN.
You need less time to work out.
You need even less time to exercise.
What happens if you FORCE yourself to train during a time you should be working out?
1. First – nothing bad. That’s called driv-icated, or a mix of driven and dedicated…to yourself. We can’t be driv-icated 100% of the time because we would have no friends, no life and no future outside of whatever we are focused on.
But, because training takes a lot out of you, you must pay that back. If your goal is to really:
– Lose weight.
– Build muscle.
– Change your body.
You need to prioritize nutrition, sleep, and gym. Not in that order, but pretty close. If you’re in the gym 5 hours a week, plus prepping and food shopping for 3 hours per week and prioritizing your sleep (which means 8 hours per night minimum) AND working an 8-hour job…that’s a lot. Probably don’t want to be doing that while you’re trying to stay cool organizing a wedding. That’s time for working out.
2. Second – you will often times either get injured, spin your wheels without making progress, get frustrated at your results and at the worse…waste your time.
If you’re truly training for something then you need to recover WAY more then you need to train. And recovery is essentially stress management and destress strategies. Understand that the body identifies stress as anything that moves it out of homeostasis, from winning the lottery to being attacked by a bear…it’s all the same hormones and stress response by the body. So if your fighting over table placement or working on lifting your personal best in the squat…you need to recover from that stress.
Bottom line for me (and probably some of you reading this) – I can’t continue to work out 3 days per week HARD in the gym for an hour, and do an hour of cardio per week, plus 90 minutes of yoga AND count my calories and get 8 hours of restful sleep…4 weeks before I get married and short staffed.
I need to go back to working out while still focusing on my diet and sleep. But, the workouts need to be less than 45 minutes strength training (just like our small group workouts) AND about 20-30 minutes of interval training (just like our team training classes). We’re so smart at KDR.
So – here’s my question for you. Look at your schedule, do you honestly have AT LEAST 4 weeks to commit to a pursuing a goal and TRAINING. 4 weeks where nothing is coming up, no plans and you can commit to yourself 100%? Maybe you have 8 weeks…then do our 8 week Eat to Lose challenge.
But if you don’t have 4 weeks, that’s ok, that doesn’t mean you stop going to the gym, that means you just work out and focus on keeping 80% of your progress.
Hi, my name is Ben. I am a cancer survivor, blogger, educator and coach. It’s my passion to educate people on health and fitness. The current state of the field is unacceptable to me – overly complicated with too much conflicting information. It’s my goal to help people be as healthy as possible while spending the least amount of time working on it. Work smarter, not harder!