The Balanced Workout Program: Is Improvement Limited?
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The Balanced Workout Program: Is Improvement Limited?

Don't believe the hype: the body has an amazing ability to progress over many different types of fitness at once.

Each person has a tendency to find workout ruts or typical exercises that they rely on for their personal fitness program. Unfortunately, our "rut tendencies" rarely push us to engage in activities that would be the most beneficial to us. For example, many small-bodied individuals (myself included) would happily run several miles, but shy away from weight rooms. Conversely, larger people are readily found in the gym, but they are much less likely to desire aerobic sports or activities in their standard exercise regimen.

Following the caloric path of least resistance is not a recipe for success. Most individuals gravitate toward one extreme or another of the weight axis, and this means that they would receive the greatest physical benefit from gravitating their workout to the direction providing them the greatest challenge.

An increase in strength is not necessarily accompanied by an increase in body mass, and an increase in aerobic ability does not necessarily achieve the opposite effect. What it will definitively do is increase your ability in a new aspect of fitness.

It is important to remember that the body is extremely elastic, and increasing one aspect of physical fitness usually does not decrease the other. In high school, many football players I knew shied away from aerobic workouts, because they believed that distance running would make them weaker and slower. In fact, running generally builds muscle mass (although, appreciably much less than weight training) and running can only decrease strength significantly when accompanied by a stringent diet that causes a dramatic reduction in size. Thus, the body's fitness level is elastic and can be improved in more than one way at one time.

The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) embodies the principles of a balanced workout scheme. It contains three events: pushups, situps, and a two-mile run. Those who excel at running often struggle at the pushups, while those who reach the maximum repetition of pushups and situps with ease often do not post excellent run times. Those who can excel at all three events demonstrate a keen understanding of a balanced workout scheme, and are model specimens of balanced physical fitness.

A gravitation toward the opposite end of the workout spectrum will not necessarily alter your body type, but it will increase your ability levels over different varieties of exercise. Variegated exercise routines can promote health and fitness better than homogenous ones can alone.

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Comments (3)

I go to the gym three times a week. I'm glad it gives me alternatives to pushups, situps, and a two-mile run. But you're certainly right. It's easy to get into ruts, including the rut of not working hard to push improvements. Your balanced workout program means including both aerobic and resistance training (and stretching?) in your routine. Do you have any ideas for shaking up a balanced routine so that doesn't become a rut?

Sure! Sign up for races and lifting competitions; the competitive spirit is great for motivating improvement. Also, try adopting someone else's training routine for a week or two. Having a grading standard to evaluate yourself on is great (like the Army's PT test) and having someone to compete and compare with is even better. If the balance becomes a rut, make it unbalanced temporarily, such as going all-aerobic or all weight training. Also, you can switch the aerobic exercise for a while. Riding a bike is a rush! If only they had bike lanes in Georgia...