While the world of functional fitness has consistently tended to do hundreds of squats, burpees, and lunges in the past six weeks, trainer James Fitzgerald warns that this will do more harm than good. Fitzgerald, winner of the first CrossFit games in 2007 and founder of OPEX Fitness, said:
"They are not functional and cause cortisol dependency. Performance drops during body weight circles, although they look chic on a zoom call with a class, result in poor motion compensation and a depth of 1,000 repetitions," he added.
Although 200 lunges for the time could lead to a "sweaty workout" that many people seem to yearn for, according to Fitzgerald, the five main reasons to avoid programming training such as squats, pushups, lunges and burpees "for the time" are as follows:
You do not achieve sustainable results. They reduce immunity and resilience. They lead to poor movement patterns and compensations. They are not functional. They cause cortisol junkies and poor behavior when exercising
So 200 lunges have expired for the time, what's in it?
Fitzergald explained that there are safe and effective ways to program body weight training that can make long-term progress. This is possible if you follow the basic principles of programming.
He gave the following as an example of a more effective way to use body weight movements than four laps over time:
Max set of gossip pushups. Pause 60 seconds. 20 squats. Pause 60 seconds. 60 seconds back plank. Pause 60 seconds.
Repeat four times.
Why is this a better approach?
Fitzgerald asks you to consider the following principles of body weight training:
The dose response of body weight training
To achieve effective body weight training, you need to understand the “dose response,” that is, the stimulus or outcome of each workout. According to Fitzgerald, these are three things:
Intent: What is the goal of this program and what is the customer working towards? Modality: What kind of movements does the client do? The single person: Who am I programming for? What are your individual skills, abilities, limitations, training age?
If you understand who (i.e. person), what (i.e. modality) and why (i.e. intention), you can control the dose response and ultimately the resulting adjustments and results.
The limits of body weight training
Before you put together a body weight program, you also need to understand its limits.
These restrictions mainly concern activities with a closed chain and relative strength, ie strength against body weight, and strength endurance, ie the ability to do repetitions at submaximal loads.
They also have relatively little variability because they have no access to equipment and novel means of performing movement patterns.
As a result, many trainers prescribe many repetitions of very similar types of muscle contractions, which can become a problem for most as poor movement patterns are then repeated for a large number of repetitions.
In addition, body weight training effectively lacks intensity, at least in terms of maximum exertion, since you have no access to external stress. For stronger and fitter customers, this means that endurance efforts are sometimes converted into metabolic efforts that become glycolytic. In other words, they are starting to take advantage of the anaerobic milk system, which is a great way to lower immunity and bring about negative metabolic adjustments as it promotes the use of sugar as a fuel.
Three final tips for an effective design of the body weight program
Once you understand the above, you can start thinking about how to program body weight training effectively.
Fitzgerald recommends programming whole body resistance, which includes upper and lower body movements as well as core movements.
From there he says:
Tip 1: Create a progressive program
As with any effective program, be it a strength or endurance program, a body weight training program should be progressive over time, building up from the previous one every week. Three ways to do this include:
Increase the volume over time and add repetitions for every session and every week. Increase the speed of contractions over time, from motor control to endurance to dynamic movements. Adjust the pace and increase the eccentric or lowering phase of an exercise
Tip 2: split the days
For most lifestyle athletes, Fitzgerald recommends adhering to a simple exercise program that focuses on durability and alternates between full-body resistance training days and aerobic training days.
Regarding # 3: consider the individual long-term
Just make sure you understand your client's physical abilities, goals, and intentions, and then design workouts that are “within your client's abilities”.
If you would like to learn more from Fitzgerald, you can find out about its various training options at OPEX Fitness.