Fitness Buzzwords: Why I REFUSE to Dumb It Down
I got an email yesterday from My Fitness Pal that reminded me what I’m up against in my quest to cut through the #fitnessfakenews and get the good stuff out to you.
The article was about incorporating HIIT training into a workout plan, and, credit where credit is due, it was a nice intro program for someone who might otherwise be intimidated by the idea. On that front, well done MFP. Unfortunately, they also chose to add a bunch of pseudo-scientific explanation and fitness buzzwords, trading credibility for clickability.
Have a quick read of this snippet:
“HIIT training is great because you’re shocking the body. The more surprises you give it, instead of just steady-state walking, the more you confuse your muscles, which keeps your body from reaching a plateau.”**
Buzzwords in fitness are a real bummer.
The body is incredibly complex, and in an effort to dumb it down, professionals toss out terms that actually make it even MORE complex because they aren’t very good representations of what’s really happening. And, since the general public won’t fact check this stuff, it sounds like it could be true. “Muscle confusion must be that missing link in my plan, the piece of the puzzle that will finally deliver the body I’ve been trying to create!”
HIIT, short for High Intensity Interval Training *IS* great.
The reason it’s great is because it allows you to train multiple energy systems at once. It has nothing to do with shocking the body.
Another thing that makes HIIT so great is that you are able to increase the intensity of your workout and burn more calories in recovery, thus making it more effective in less time. It’s awesome for allowing you to work harder while you are working out, because you don’t have to sustain your efforts for as long. When you’re training your higher intensity energy systems (rather than just steady state cardio) you become more metabolically flexible, which means your body is better at burning both fat and carbs for fuel when it needs to. Add this to the list of great example of why *adaptability* is great for your waistline. (Side Note: Cardiovascular health is still important. Cardio and HIIT are not enemies. They’re pals, and they help each other both be better.)
I’d like to lay to rest the idea that surprise and novelty are the hallmarks of an effective exercise program. This kind of thinking misleads people into jumping around between all kinds of different, random protocols rather than simplifying and focusing on the basics, which is what the vast majority actually need.
Whether you hit a plateau or not isn’t based on how confused your muscles are, and how much “new stuff” they’re seeing in your workouts. It’s actually quite the contrary. You have to use progressive overload, which means you gradually challenge your body with more load, more reps, or more advanced movements over time - but you actually have to see enough of the same exercises to see results. If you are constantly trying to “surprise” your body with a new workout you’re pretty much guaranteed to hit a plateau and see very little results for your efforts.
So, this is why I am vehemently against the buzzwords. In an effort to make things simpler, it makes it more confusing and spreads the #fitnessfakenews.
My promise to YOU is that I won’t dumb it down. I’ll keep it as simple as possible, because I’m all about the minimum effective dose, but you deserve to know what’s happening in your body. You deserve to understand how to make the changes you seek. And I know that you can handle it. I believe you have the capacity to understand what’s happening… after all, if I can figure it out, so can you! This isn’t rocket science. So I won’t be using any fancy words to convince you that I know what I’m talking about.
PS: If you find this helpful make sure you join my newsletter for more great information on how to change your health and fitness once and for all - AND to join in on my upcoming crash course: "Why Move More and Eat Less Has Failed Us All”.