IT’S FOR REEEEEEEAL..

In a previous life, I did motor skill rehab with a little boy dual diagnosed with autism. His only verbal communication was ‘It’s for reeeeeeeeal’, which he would say each time he executed a skill. As his skills improved and we began to play catch or kick back and forth at a more rapid pace he would get frustrated if I returned the ball to him before he finished, which he showed by either kicking or throwing the ball away from me. I learned to hold my return kick or throw until the last L of real disappeared.

To the naked ear his phrase might seem nonsensical, completely disconnected to playing catch or kick but I think he was on to something because so much about activity IS ‘for reeeeeeeeal’. Unless compromised by a complication, with regular exercise you WILL get stronger, become more flexible, feel better, sleep better, have more energy, be more inclined to eat healthy, be more productive at work, and realize a gazillion other benefits including how the gains will transfer to sports play. You will run faster, throw harder, kick farther…

And, as you use your ‘Footprint to display your achievement your motivation also strengthens from feeding itself with the success you accumulate that never has to be negotiated, rationed or qualified. ‘It’s for reeeeeeeeal’ each and every time!

WHAT’S IN YOUR NUMBER?

Today’s word problem:

Subject A female is 5’4” weighs 120 pounds and wears a size 6 dress
Subject B female is 5”4” weighs 130 pounds and wears a size 8 dress

Who is healthier? Read on for how it can be determined…

If your gym is like mine finding the scale is easy – just follow the most-worn path on the floor. Many of us make a beeline right after check in, hold our breath until the number displays or the lever balances, and then either let out a sigh or damn ourselves for the piece of cake, or chips, or whatever we determine the culprit of the ‘bad’ number; that is, after taking the next logical step – finding a different scale!

For many, the display number stirs powerful emotions. A former training client would be thrilled at 115 but panic at 116. No middle ground – 115 was nirvana, 116 was hell – which was further scrutinized with digital scales that weighed to the ounce. 115.5 or under was good, 115.6 or over was tragic. Another client’s goal was to reduce to 102 lbs, precisely. It took a few sessions of building trust for she to let on that 102 was her idol’s weight, and she was also an aspiring singer so reasoned her break would come if she ‘became’ her idol. A third client wanted to gain weight so ate ‘heavy food’ just before entering the gym on his declared weigh-in day. His favorite was Sara Lee Pound Cake figuring it to be the heaviest food available.

Having a vested interest in our weight is a GOOD thing for many reasons. Maintaining healthy bodyweight is a primary key to wellness. Too much and we compromise each of our systems (cardiovascular, digestive, skeletal, endocrine, etc.), too little and except for context difference, the compromise is the same; which isn’t anything you don’t already know…

So the point here is to extend the conversation by conveying WHAT YOUR BODYWEIGHT CONSISTS OF can mean more to your wellness than the number itself, because tucked neatly inside our skin is lean (muscle) tissue and fat (adipose) tissue, and each has a drastically different impact on wellness!

Lean tissue is healthier than fat tissue so we want as much of our bodyweight to be comprised of muscle than fat. Wellness-wise, one person’s 115 rarely means the same as another’s 115 due to differences in body composition. They may look the same (and be able to share clothes) but the 115 who possesses a larger ratio of muscle to fat is healthier than the 115 who has a larger ratio of fat to muscle.

The kicker, as many of you know, lean tissue weighs more than fat tissue so bodyweight increases with muscle gain. This can unnerve numbers watchers, but rest assured this is GOOD weight to gain since the addition of lean mass means healthier body composition. As a rule, it’s good to lose fat tissue (to a point) and good to gain muscle tissue, and as these composition changes occur so will your bodyweight.

If you don’t already know your body composition, it’s time you did. First, calculate your BMI – Body Mass Index – to assess the healthfulness of your bodyweight. Enter BMI into any search engine and you will be able to access an easy to use calculator to determine if your weight is in the healthy range for your height. If it is, your fitness goals don’t necessarily need to include weight loss. But if not, weight loss ought to be figured into your fitness plan.

Then, get your body composition analyzed by a qualified fitness professional. There are several ways to assess composition, some more invasive than others but none are painful! (past hurting your feelings if the results are not favorable). The good news – body composition can be improved with the one-two punch of cardio activity to burn calories (and lose fat) and weight training to increase muscle mass. Keep in mind that bodyweight may increase as a result, but the improved ratio of lean to fat mass means a healthier composition.

Circling back to my clients, analyzing their body composition helped calm the emotions that stirred their ‘scale behavior.’ 115 was able to see a mass gain was needed, 102 was able to see this was underweight for her height and her composition skewed unhealthy, and ’Gainer’ was able to see his composition was healthy, so to not risk his wellness by adding fat weight.

Know your bodyweight, know your BMI, then get your body composition analyzed so you know what these numbers mean to your health.

As for whose healthier, subject A or B? Impossible to determine without knowing what’s IN their numbers…

I’M TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT FOOD THING!

Alternate title – Someone Order For Me, Please

It’s time. Time to pay attention to my diet, but I’m not exactly sure what I should be eating, so I know, I’ll go on the internet! All right, let me enter ‘healthy diet’ into my search engine… What! 168,000,000 hits. This may take longer than I thought, but here goes. Click – Eat All Protein. Ok, add tuna, cottage cheese, poultry to the grocery list. But—click—wait, because this one says Eat All Carbs. Hmm, now I’m not sure what to do with the grocery list. I’ll just click on this one – Eat Raw. Raw what? Hmm, never mind the grocery list, where do I buy raw? I’ll try another one—click—Eat The Colors Of The Rainbow. Rainbow? What’s a rainbow have to do with food!?

So I guess I need to put raw, colorful proteins and carbs on the grocery list(?)… What am I saying, forget I even tried!

Yikes! Sometimes, it’s not that we don’t try. Heartfelt and motivated we earnestly seek to do the right food thing only to be confounded by the information we uncover. Not only the volume, but the polarity of what’s right vs. what’s wrong and the snide, chiding tone if one dares eat anything but what is being touted – Shame on you to eat (fill in the blank)!

One result of the confusion is the set in of wellness paralysis – we don’t know what to change so don’t change anything! Resignation doesn’t make the wondering gnaw go away though so we are left with a lump in our belly that has nothing to do with what we have just eaten.

So, what to do?

Since you have read this far I know you don’t want to tread the proverbial food water forever, but first a disclaimer. Food is an enormously complex enterprise with separate channels related to the industry as well as diet. ‘Diet’ can refer to the eating plan we follow or describe the course of action we take to lose weight. The following tips are offered from the perspective of diet as a noun—an eating plan—and are offered with due respect to the complexity of the industry and the channel itself.

Ground Rules:

–Listen to your intuition. If a plan/claim/suggestion seems outrageous then likely, it is. You don’t need an advanced nutrition degree to determine outrageousness.

–If it’s a plan or suggestion you wouldn’t be comfortable including your child in (or any child) then don’t follow it yourself.

–Food truths are usually not as polarizing as some claims make them seem. For example, ‘Carbs are POISON’ or ‘Protein is POISON’ (or similar sentiment) are exaggerated, polarized claims that tend to be inaccurate. (Unless of course you contend with a circumstance that necessitates their avoidance.)

–Ascertain the expertise/perspective of anyone giving you nutritional/diet advice; e.g., level of education and is it in nutrition, what is their personal connection to what they are suggesting. Your intuition will red-flag incompetence or a conflict of interest. Note – personal training certification alone does not qualify a personal trainer to give nutritional/diet advice. Just last week I overheard a trainer advise her client to start taking a supplement “someone told me about.” Inexcusable lack of professionalism! The risk is obvious!

Preparing to Design a Plan:

First, the uniqueness that is each of us means we can respond differently to different foods. From a sidewalk perspective, we all have unique chemical sensitivities (obviously, food allergies and metabolic conditions, etc. present their own circumstances). For example, some of us can eat processed sugar and feel fine while others slump into a blood-sugar funk after a few grams, some can digest heads of lettuce at a sitting while others gurgle at the mere sight of a wedge, and some can comfortably take in all forms of dairy comfortably while others have to follow strict guidelines lest trigger severe gastro distress.

The point – figure out what makes sense for you by taking the time to carefully research your own cause/effect, then commit to what the results show. This sounds obvious and pedestrian but many of us simply don’t take the time to carefully scrutinize the effect of what we eat.

Second, we CAN’T pretend we don’t live in a world that includes lots of fatty, sugary, yummy food. It’s unrealistic to think the ‘bad food’ of 7-layered nachos, chunky shakes, meatball sandwiches, can be denied forever. Perhaps you can, but for the rest of us this is the set-up of all set-ups because often if we start to eat ‘bad’ food we will layer with more ‘bad’ food thinking, what the heck, I’ve started I’m just going to continue.

Similar to perceiving exercise as needing to ‘either train to run a marathon or don’t bother putting your running shoes on’, the emotion we attach to ‘bad’ food means it needs to be completely avoided, even forgotten about, less risk susceptibility to the ‘I’ve already blown it by eating one chip so I might as well finish the bag’ sentiment. Labeling certain food as ‘bad’ adds an all-or-nothing emotion that (usually) doesn’t serve us well.

Moving forward with a plan: Think sensibility-balance-portion control

The objective – develop a wellness-friendly, realistic eating plan. Another point-well-taken complexity, but remember, we need to move past wellness-paralysis. Some keys to designing a plan are sensibility, balance and portion control. This isn’t sexy nor is it trending with a celebrity’s endorsement, but if followed most experts agree in it’s healthfulness.

Sensible – adopt a nourishing scheme that is sustainable over long-range rather than one that arises out of panic for quick weight loss.

Balance – protein, carbs, fruits/vegetables, etc. all play a role in our nutritional wellness. Each nourishes our body differently by catalyzing functions that lead to feeling good not just ok. Foregoing certain types of food can mean missing out on the nutritional benefit unique to that food. For most, an optimal plan includes a balance of different types of foods.

Portion control – read food labels to understand a product’s portion size (and caloric value), then serve yourself accordingly. 22 chips is 22 chips. 1 cookie is 1 cookie. 1 ounce of meat is 1 ounce of meat. If we abide by the recommendations, most of us can enjoy A portion of most foods without repercussion. It requires a bit of discipline to count 22 chips out of the bag but after awhile you get used to it and most important over time your weight has likely been sustained and if you also pay attention to sensibility and moderation you hopefully also will physically feel good!

Someone recently asked me if my diet was ‘clean,’ meaning free of unhealthy fat, processed sugar, etc. It’s on the healthy side but not nearly spotless. I have a killer sweet tooth and if a loaf of bread is in front of me, well, it won’t be for long. I’m also as prone to emotional eating as anyone – and have done my fair share of panic dieting in advance of an upcoming event, thankfully that has ebbed with age. Overall, I’m not clean but ‘picked up’. One epiphany for me occurred years ago when I realized the cauliflower-celery phase really didn’t serve me well for playing sports. Pretty much zero energy, and I doubt I will ever live down the noxious, toxic ‘digestive issues’ I subjected my teammates to…

Note – if you have any questions about food/nutrition/diet, diligently seek answers from a reputable nutrition professional. The preceding is meant to offer perspective on the topic

THE GENTLEMAN’S MILE

My brother-in-law, former elite swimmer, now rock star family man with a busy wife and three busy young kids, finished his daily run and declared his ‘gentleman’s mile’ a success. Raised heart rate – yep, varied intensity considering the route included the neighborhood hill – yep, sustained for a health-protecting duration – yep. Nothing fancy. Shoes on – step outside – run. 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity; not 19 or 21 because, schedule wise, the open window was 20.

He’s on to something with his ‘gentleman’s mile.’ Besides swimming, he has a very deep, life-long cultivated ‘Iron Footprint’ and loves all things sport. He values activity for its process and product, attributes he consistently messages and role models to his kids. On family vacations I can always count on him to be my activity buddy, even when it means doing contrived campground workouts using stones for weights and fallen tree limbs for ‘steps’. If he had the time I’m certain he would engage even more, but therein lies the genesis of his ‘gentleman’s mile,’ and the reason for sorting out its dynamics.

On the seat of your chair? Here we go. Well chronicled across social-cultural literature and media is the challenge many women face to ‘have it all’, mainly both raise a family and climb the career ladder. The predicament has its roots in the cultured historic ideals of women’s roles, with which we are familiar so will stop at that. Now, it seems time to include our other half in the having-it-all ponder…and be sensitive. After all, it’s not 1955, gender-ism has evolved, and in many ways the contemporary family man equally manages the day-to-day challenges of work/family life with his wife-significant other – getting kids to school, making dinner, washing clothes, cleaning house, taking kids to practices, mowing the lawn, getting groceries, shoveling snow, picking sick kids up from school… And, to circle back to my brother-in-law, probably like most women, my sister sure wouldn’t have it any other way!

By virtue of gender, men are no longer immune from facing the have-it-all question and the dynamics that come with sorting out its answer. Cramming 25 hours of life into a 24-hour day, prioritizing what happens and when, needing to finish the work report to influence a promotion but wanting to watch a child’s soccer game, and dealing with the charming body changes that dastardly middle-age can deliver.

The take away of the ‘gentleman’s mile’ – a vigorous, daily 20 minute run is a reasonable, healthful compromise—not concession—to a slammed life that includes it all. It signifies thoughtful reverence to the effects of decisions about priorities. Even masterful managers can’t be in two places at once, but wellness isn’t to be neglected.

It seems history will write the definitive report on having-it-all, but in the meantime a daily ‘gentleman’s mile’ seems a realistic part of the mix. Don’t forget to notch your Iron Footprint because your engagement motivation doesn’t care what the activity is called, only that you keep deepening your achievement…

TO GRUNT OR NOT TO GRUNT

Where is Shakespeare when we really need him? The gym equivalent of ‘to be or not to be’, grunting has become a nuclear lightening rod with the power to polarize membership and leave management scratching their heads about how to respond.

On the one hand, gyms are spaces that require users to exert personal and social responsibility. Like the lawlessness of yelling fire in a theater, the greater good’s wellbeing is a priority. Grunting can be disconcerting, especially when followed by weight dropping. Net/net, it can be annoying AND startle the heck out of you!

On the other hand, assuming accountability for personal hygiene, safety and social appropriateness, does the behavior of your fellow gym member really matter? And considering that 75% of US adults don’t get ANY exercise, much less the recommended minimum for health protection. Perhaps there are bigger fish to fry.

Personally, I’m Switzerland without a strong opinion either side, but from the perspective of motivation there is more to it than the power struggle, drama-factor intrigue. If it seems to be attention-seeking behavior, ignoring it—just like with your 2-year old—tends to extinguish its fuel source. This type of behavior needs some reaction from others to sustain. Don’t feed it and it eventually goes away.

But extinguishing the emotion that exercise invokes is a motivational risk. If grunting is an organic response to full-on exertion then grunt away. NOT grunting is an affront to the natural emotion of exercise that shouldn’t be feared, nor avoided. Nor should genuine grunters be
scolded, or worse, regarded as perpetrators.

For the sake of fostering resilient motivation, embracing the emotion of exercise stokes adrenaline that can make the difference between hitting the gym and hitting the couch. Looked at from this perspective we ought to carefully nurture whatever can help us stick to and grow our routines.

Attention-seekers will look around to see the crowd they have attracted. Exerters will move on to their next set, completely wrapped up into their own repetition-focused world. To that, ‘to grunt or not to grunt’ seems much ado about nothing. Wait, where have I heard that before…

THE SHOES HAVE IT

We here at our scrappy initiative are outspoken about anything that roadblocks activity participation. One of the biggest is the notion that you need to wear (comparably expensive) activity-specific clothes to do specific activities – otherwise don’t even think of watching the activity class much less doing it. Crazy, right! Unless you want to, you don’t need to buy an expensive hi-tec t-shirt when a less expensive cotton one would work just fine…

But, please don’t skimp when it comes to shoes!

I tagged along as a friend shopped for new fitness shoes at a popular self-help, discount shoe store. With the weather beginning to get chillier the boots area was the most congested, but at a close second was the sneaker area. The inventory was organized according to price and the lower the price the more crowded – kind of like chickens at feed time. Of the less expensive offerings shoppers gravitated to the trendy neon colors and didn’t seem to care these were ‘factory seconds.’ Interestingly, the reason for the demotion was provided on some of the boxes. Half had some kind of a cosmetic flaw – no biggie! but the other half had compromised construction – BIGGIE! A color bleed is one thing because it doesn’t have anything to do with how the shoe performs, but a failed design isn’t anything to mess around with. No matter how
trendy or popular, if a shoe is telling you it isn’t going to work properly please don’t buy that shoe!

It was all I could do to control my urge to get on the store microphone and instruct everyone to BACK AWAY FROM THE FLAWS…

Suggestions:
1. Respective to your budget, spend as much as you can on shoes. Like anything, higher end shoes can be overpriced, but for the most part price and quality go hand-in-hand.
2. Cross-trainers are suitable for general fitness activity including most group fitness classes, but if you walk/jog/run, it’s in your best interest to wear these specific shoes and get fitted by someone who will observe, then match your gait to its most appropriate model. Running stores tend to be operated by folks who breathe all things running and want to spread its joy. It’s in their best interest as well as yours to make sure you get shoes right for you. As an added bonus, while you are at the store you can register for an upcoming running/walking event!

Another shoe resource is Runner’s World magazine. Either their print or online version covers the latest in the shoe industry including editor’s picks based upon a number of meaningful variables. Color tends to be low on the list…

Wear whatever is going to cover your junk but don’t risk undue joint stress and strain with under-performing shoes. Motivation can start from the ground up – literally. If your feet, then ankles, then knees, then hips, start to hurt, even I have to admit hitting FitBESTS won’t do much to sustain your motivation.

FITTER KIDS ARE SMARTER KIDS – AND SCHOOLS THAT PRESERVE PHYSICAL EDUCATION ARE SMARTER SCHOOLS

Well, there you have it! After analyzing a decade’s worth of data that examined the academic performance (gpa, test scores, attendance) and aerobic fitness of hundreds of thousands of 5-7-9th graders, guess what! Researchers determined the more aerobically fit, the better the school performance. Or, more strongly messaged – fitter kids are smarter kids!

How exciting is this headline! And, the results cut across all demographics meaning ANY kid can be smarter, not just the ones attending schools within tony zip codes. But while there isn’t a more important take-away than the message itself we need to dig into the backstory to fully appreciate what this means.

In an age of educational reform that has prioritized literacy and math as the cornerstones of a ‘common core’, and high-stakes testing to determine a school’s capacity to deliver results, most schools have responded by increasing the time allotted to the ‘core’ thus decreasing time afforded to physical activity (physical education and recess).

None of us would disagree that our kids deserve optimum opportunity to develop the targeted critical thinking skills, but here is the kicker – academically, students of schools that did NOT reduce the time afforded to physical activity statistically did as well as students of schools that did reduce physical activity so to spend more time on the core.

Now we really have a message! – Fitter kids are smarter kids AND dedicated physical activity time enhances rather than compromises academic performance. School-based physical activity programming DOES matter and DOES make a difference.

But back to the research to dig more. School academic performance also correlates to adult earning potential: the more academic success the higher the earning potential. Nearly 1 in 4 child lives in poverty with the prevalence increasing. Sadly, kids who grow up impoverished are statistically likely to remain impoverished, or cycle back into poverty even if overcome.

Yikes! But, one more gem to throw in the mix. While overweight/obesity strikes all demographic profiles, a disproportionate prevalence is among those of lower SES. Statistically, it’s likely that an overweight/obese child is dually challenged by poverty.

Now what’s the take-away from ‘fitter kids being smarter kids’?

Kids are underserved when their daily physical activity isn’t ensured – for their quality of life today and for what statistically follows them through adulthood. So what should OUR take-away be?

–Volunteer for a school’s physical activity program (e.g., physical education, before or after-school programming). Pay motivation forward to kids (and notch your own ‘Footprint at the same time).

–Talk about this at your next coffee date, dinner party, power walk, aerobics class, basketball game… YOU CAN make a difference and start a trend…

–Use your social media platforms to trend the message. It’s juicy and ripe for social media. Using our networks will grow productive advocacy

School-based physical activity programming DOES matter and DOES make a difference.
After all, fitter kids are smarter kids!

WE ‘HAVE THE VILLAGES’ TO COMBAT CHILDHOOD OBESITY, BUT ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

New data about childhood obesity intervention strengthens the evidence that has been compiling for a couple of years – comprehensive, umbrella strategies that involve the public-private and nonprofit sectors work! Said otherwise – it takes a village to combat childhood obesity, and villages are being built!

New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angles and now San Diego have reduced the prevalence and trajectory of the condition by approaching intervention from an umbrella perspective. These results are especially significant considering the disproportionate prevalence each faced. Considering population demographics particularly at-risk, each of these was a veritable perfect storm for the prevalence to fester, and fester it did – until broad-based intervention programming wholly modified the lifestyles of each region’s kids. Augmented school and community-based physical activity programming offered barrier-free, developmentally appropriate activity opportunities, improved school lunch offered nutritionally-rich food, parent education helped parents make informed food purchase decisions and understand how to prepare nutritious meals, public works enacted policy making non-motorized transportation safe.

While each infrastructure improvement carries its own take-away, lost in the numbers crunch is evidence to support the kids feel better about themselves and that one person CAN make a difference. Many kids report that the support/motivation they received from just ONE adult helped them sustain their motivation

Be a village of many or a village of one, get a kid jumping rope!

Information rich – Experience poor

Ahh, contemporary life! Blurred lines separating virtual and reality – Our day-to-day existence ever more occurring in a cyberland cloud – technology creeping ever closer to bridging virtual and real. What’s real? What’s virtual? Why does it matter – Isn’t virtual as real as real?

With a credit card, reliable router, high-speed connection, and deliverable address we really don’t need to leave the house to exist. From the comfort of our couch wearing our favorite fuzzy slippers and without moving, literally, we can make an e-living, e-deposit our earnings into our e-bank account, order groceries and have them delivered, communicate with friends, take in unlimited entertainment, and take care of nature calls – ewe!

Compared to previous generations, we are information-rich but experience-poor. Chew on that for a minute. Information-rich, as in the constant stream we can be inundated with from various platforms providing finger-tip access to facts, figures, gossip, and their updates. Experience-poor, as in we can lack tactile stimulation – other than what’s required to access more information. Some of us don’t know what it is to stand in line at the bank or have forgotten what it feels like to read a printed newspaper.

We may know a lot about many different things…except, there isn’t a greater disconnect to the wellness that physical activity uniquely gifts than cyberlife:
The very essence of movement is tactile – the very essence of cyberlife is sense-less
The very essence of wellness is movement – the very essence of cyberlife is inert screen time
The very essence of movement is experience – the very essence of cyberlife is information

The virtual can never replace the tactile as the information gleaned from playing video tennis can never equate to the experience of playing real tennis. True, standing in line at the bank may be overrated, and shifting the leg you have your weight on really doesn’t qualify as quality physical activity, but transcend contemporary life by balancing information with experience – make sure you get physical activity for your screen time. I never thought it would come to this, but as a strategy – read your texts while on the bench in-between innings of your softball game.

Oddly speaking – Where’s the love for 5-7-9-11?

Are you a…hater?

Those of us who use weights represent diversity’s rainbow and seem to be tolerant and
respectful toward the same except for one thing – we discriminate against odd numbers!

Weird, but the next time you are at the gym count along as those around you do a machine or free weight exercise. As predictable as night to day you will count to 6-8-10 or 12. Oh, you too?

What is with this infatuation with even numbers? Maybe there is some cosmic reassurance knowing right now, same as you, someone another continent away just finished their 8th bicep curl, but cosmic reassurance doesn’t do squat for heart or muscular health.

Whatever, we like our even numbers. Leave it alone.

Ah, no, because we are committed to helping YOU sustain your exercise motivation so can’t not chime in about something that can lead to underachievement. Oh, and we signed a sweat promotional deal with the folks from odd numbers so are contractually obligated to provide media. Haha… Really, we are not going to sit out any dance that can lead to your ‘Footprint growth including the use of odd numbers, so here goes.

Overload is a principle of muscular growth. In order to increase mass, strength or power we need to provoke a muscle into working harder than usual. The specifics of how much weight we push/pull and how many times we make the muscle work can yield different results. While evolving research continues to fine-tune our understanding of how to best induce increases, in general, doing a lower number of repetitions of a heavy weight yields size and strength, more so than doing a higher number of repetitions of a lighter weight that yields endurance. A key point though is working a muscle to fatigue – meaning, the last repetition you do of a set ought to be difficult to complete. 5 IS different from 6 (or 7 from 8, or 9 from 10, etc.) because (approached correctly) you will use a heavier weight for 5 reps than 6 to bring about fatigue, and thus stimulating a different response. And yes, muscle response IS that sensitive to the workload difference. Just like you knowing the difference between a 40 and 60-hour workweek, your muscles know the difference of what’s asked of them – subtlety is not one of muscle’s qualities!

I’m telling you, it’s a whole new overload world this 5-7-9-11 perspective. One, it offers a counter to the risk of plateaus. Just like the surprise of mixing up your routine keeps your muscles on their toes always ready to respond, adjusting the number of reps (and weight used) does the same. The more you keep them in suspense about what they will need to do any given day the less likely any part of them will take that day off. Routines that groove into ruts (see previous post) do so because your physiology knows what to expect and responds accordingly, no more no less. The no-more part is dangerous since hitting a plateau can ding your motivation.

And two, enlivening your weight training by targeting an odd number of repetitions fosters accountability to this aspect of your ‘Footprint growth by preventing you from approaching your routine from the dreaded ‘just’ perspective – purposeless, just going through the motions.
Think about golf. A set of golf clubs consists of 10-15 clubs each designed to hit the ball a different distance. One indication of proficiency is knowing how far you can hit each of the clubs you carry—knowing that you hit your 5-iron 150 yards, or your driver 240 yards—which is information you use to determine your club selection for each shot. To score your best, you wouldn’t use whatever club you grabbed from your bag. You would use the club that best suited the situation for each shot. Execution aside, you give yourself the best chance for the best possible result when you select the right club to use.

Same with weight training.

In general, doing 5-repetitions to fatigue can stimulate a different muscular result than doing 6-repetitions to fatigue because it requires more weight (especially if you routinely have done 6-rep sets). This means the overload to your muscle is different for 5-reps from 6, and different is good since unpredictability helps to draw an optimum result.

Borrow a page out of golf and be accountable to a routine that will best deliver results. Like knowing how far you can hit each club, know the weight to use for the spectrum of repetitions you do. The pin just being in a weight machine slot isn’t good enough nor is grabbing whatever weights happen to be close by.

Hate traffic, hate the rival of your favorite team, hate raw fish, but don’t hate odd numbers. Or golf…

This call for a cheer. 2-4-6-8 who do we appreciate, odd numbers odd numbers odd numbers yeah…