Bigger is Bigger...but Less Efficient
The stereotypical gym goer used to be a body builder striving to be like Arnie and become bigger than everybody else. Thankfully this extreme is sought by a smaller percentage of exercisers now but it still has its influence.
The purpose of this article is to help you focus on your goals and therefore to help you to think about the best exercises to do in order to reach them without wasting time and effort.
If you want to become the next Mr or Mrs Universe then go right ahead and spend copious amounts of time and effort on exercises that rarely benefit you in actual living. Think about it, you might like to load up the incline leg press machine with hundreds of kilos of weight, but unless you plan on pushing a piano up a steep driveway while sitting on your butt when will you actually get to use this skill? Chances are you will just be placing undue stress on your knees and back which will come back to haunt you later in life.
Alternatively you might like to bench press the equivalent of a baby hippopotamus, but at what cost to your shoulders? There are lots of labour intensive things you can do to become super big, along with a host of expensive “supplements” that ruin your kidneys and bank balance. But is the effort worth it?
Some like the ‘condom stuffed with walnuts*’ look, you know the one that gives you chaffing between your legs and under the arms when you walk, the one rendering it impossible to walk through a standard size doorframe without turning side on and acting like a robot. This look often also requires a diet of 2-3 times the energy input of the average person, again increasing the cost of this whole venture.
I am all for efficiency when it comes to the body. I used to train 6 days a week for 2 hours at a time as a track sprinter. For me, yes I needed to do certain weight training exercises to have the power to move quickly down the track. However, any increase to body weight had to bring improvements in strength, power and ultimately speed, otherwise it was simply just pointless extra weight. It was a constant balance to find the right training regime for the best power to weight ratio.
This is not just true of track sprinting but goes for the rest of life. Think about the daily activities that you need to do and those that you enjoy. Then tailor your workout to best prepare you for life. For most people, improving their core strength, agility, balance, cardiovascular status and general muscle strength will enrich their day to day existence and with the added bonus of feeling better about the way they look.
In short, exercise should make the rest of life easier, rather than training your body to be less efficient.
Bigger is bigger, an efficient body is better!
* - Clive James on Arnold Schwarzenegger