In a recent post, I shared the story of a 45 year old man who has made tremendous progress in less than two years of calisthenic training. He has already achieved several advanced movements and is not far from performing many others. Clearly, this man’s approach to exercise has worked well for him. He is obviously working hard and has been consistent with his efforts. The results are impossible to deny.
Ironically, since sharing his story, I noticed several comments that suggested the man would make faster progress if he was weight training as well. And while I don’t wish to call out anyone specifically, I believe the general assumption that more work leads to more results is worthy of a discussion.
One of the problems with the online era is that we have access to more information than we will ever need. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of exercise variations that can be found with a quick search of the web. Therefore, it is not difficult or unusual to find movements that could potentially be useful.
Acquiring such knowledge is not problematic by itself. Potential problems can arise however as many athletes are already training to maximum capacity. Athletes who are training to be the best do not budget in extra reserves just in case they find a new routine that could be useful. The athlete is already pushing himself to the max. To stack pieces on top of a puzzle that is already full does not add value. Successful additions often require subtractions. If it is not feasible to subtract from your current workload, additions must be made in very small doses. Anything more will likely hinder, not enhance, the existing routine.
For instance, the man seen in the previous entry has obviously worked hard to achieve such fast and significant results. If he was to add a weight training program on top of his existing routine, something would need to give. Once again, it is not as if this man has budgeted in extra time to not only perform an additional routine, but also to recover from it.
And I say this not to suggest that weight training isn’t useful or to suggest that all hard working athletes follow a perfect program. Often times, there are additions or modifications that can be made to benefit the athlete. Such additions must be made carefully however. Just because an exercise or routine is potentially beneficial does not mean it will make sense for an already busy athlete.
Athletes and trainers must recognize that there will always be useful exercises that do not make sense to perform at a given time. To drive home this point, I often relate exercise selection to clothes. Just because you own several nice shirts does not mean it makes sense to wear them all at once. And certain clothes may not match each other. Your favorite pair of pants may not match your favorite shirt. As much as you like both items, it doesn’t make sense to wear them together.
In many ways, the same logic can be applied to exercise. Over the years, I have worked with almost every imaginable training tool and style. I have worked with bodyweight exercise, free weights, odd objects, and more. There are quality movements that I have performed with each. I don’t work with everything at the same time though. I use the surplus of information to provide options in the future if and when necessary. If I attempted to include every useful exercise I’ve ever performed within a single routine, I would run myself into the ground.
In summary, there will always be useful exercises that don’t make sense for you to perform. If you wish to add something that is new, different, or intense, be sure to make the transition gradual. Do not force the body to take on more work than it can handle. If the addition truly is as valuable as you believe it to be, there is a good chance you will need to remove something to make room for it.
Less can be more.
“The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.” – Douglas Horton