More than one way to skin a cat

Yesterday’s workout was somewhat of a hodgepodge. Warming up, the plan was to lift as I normally do: probably some chin-ups, inverted rows, renegade rows, glute-hams, and single leg squats. Pretty standard, pretty boring. Just before I started in on the chin-ups, one of the staff members asked if I wanted to jump in with him and two others to do the “Russian Plate Circuit.” The plan was to do the circuit and then lift afterward. I was a little reluctant at first because I have never really done circuits before, and I have always heard that you should do your metabolic conditioning work the regular lifting so your numbers will not suffer. I decided “what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.” I mean really, who cares what my numbers are in the gym anyway? It sounded like a cool change so I hopped in.

Good thing I did, because it was a blast. The circuit consisted of 15 total-body exercise performed for 30 seconds each. There were four of us, and two went while the other two rested, so it was 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. You do each exercise holding a 35 lb plate. Good times. It was a nice change from how I’ve normally done things. I was breathing hard and sweating, but my muscles weren’t smoked. After the circuit we did some other lifting. I did a few sets of glute ham raises, some renegade rows, and maybe something else. At that point one of my fellow interns suggested we push the sled. This is also something I had never done before, but again, I decided to give it a rip. We decided to do 40 yard pushes with 145 lbs on the sled (not sure how much it weighs). 20 yards down, 20 yards back equals one trip. After the first trip I was hooked. I ended up doing 12 40 yard sprints (I call them sprints but by the end it was more like a slow crawl) and was feeling great by the end. Note: ‘great’ means crushed, but crushed in a good way. The neat thing about the circuit and sleds is that while I felt exhausted yesterday, I am far less sore today than I am after a day of hard lifting.

On the way home, I got to thinking. If I had not joined in with the other guys doing the circuit and then the sleds, I would still not have those experiences and would not have been exposed to the benefits of those things. I have basically used the same style of training for the past three years and have not deviated much. This is really just because I’ve always lifted by myself and haven’t been exposed to people training in different fashions. The longer I workout myself, the more I realize that there are innumerable ways to get in good shape. It seems like many people in the fitness world think it’s their way or the highway. You have the kettlebell guys, the powerlifters, the Olympic lifters, the bodybuilders, the Crossfitters, and on and on and on. Yet in all of these disciplines you have incredibly strong and fit people. To me, this shows that all of it CAN work. There is no reason you can’t stray from your typical routine and try new things, or even incorporate bits and pieces from different things. Of course, here I am making the assumption that you are working out for fun. If you are training for a specific sport or task, then you be advised to train in a manner suited to improving in that task. But if you are like me and are no longer competitive, it should be about fun and staying healthy. There is no harm is trying something new. Worst case scenario, you try something you don’t like and don’t do it again. It’s one hour out of your life. No biggie. On the flip side, by trying new things you open yourself to the possibility that you may really enjoy something, or may learn something new that proves to be very effective. If you are happy doing what you are doing, then by all means continue. Sadly though, I see a lot of people that are unhappy with their progress but are too narrow-minded and/or stubborn to make a change.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something new. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. When I say to make changes, I am not saying that you need to completely overhaul your current way of doing things. You can use new ideas to augment what you are already doing. For example, I will be incorporating circuit training into my regular lifting program, but I am not becoming a circuit-only guy. The world is not black and white, and there is more than one way to skin a cat.