One of the most influential quotes I have heard in the fitness industry was “Train smarter not harder”. This was said by Mike O’Hearn, an American fitness model who has not only won the Natural Mr Universe competition, but was also Titan on American Gladiators. What did he mean when he said this quote? Set yourself goal specific workouts and make sure they suit your specific genetic makeup. Usain Bolt will be remembered as the greatest sprinter in history. His genetic makeup was ideal for sprinting. All his training both in the gym and on the track, would have been designed to maximise his speed. Would he have been training intelligently if he did steady state cardio? No, steady state cardio would have been detrimental to Usain Bolt.
Another influential quote I have heard follows a similar line is, “Stimulate don’t annihilate”. This was said by eight-time Mr Olympia, Lee Haney. From 1984 to 1991 Lee Haney was unbeatable in bodybuilding competition. With this quote Lee Haney meant train hard enough in the gym to stimulate muscle growth, but not so hard that your muscles can’t recover before their next workout. I have included a picture of Lee Haney below.
How have these quotes influenced my workouts? My own personal genetic makeup is not suited to long workouts. My weight training sessions last between twenty to forty minutes depending on the size of the area I am targeting in that session. If I weight trained any longer my muscles would not recover before their next session. How do I know? If I am not able to either increase the weight lifted or, the reps with the same weight in the main exercise that session, I have over-trained. Over the years I have had people tell me that I am not training hard enough because my weight sessions are too short. For me it wouldn’t be smart to train any longer. Keep in mind that any guidelines given to you on exercise or nutrition are just that. They are guidelines, if they work for you then stick to them. If you find they are having a negative effect on your health then look for a different path.