Listen up, because this month we're going to have a talk. In the age of information, there are too many people saying things about health and fitness. They offer their thoughts and experiences, their professional opinions, and stories of what their best friend's mom's coworker's aunt did to lose 40 pounds in two weeks.
If you look around, it's plain to see that there is a lot of saying going on, but what is SAID is most important. What is SAID stands the test of time. And it is what has been SAID that will give you the results you want, regardless of the goal.
What on earth am I talking about with all this SAID nonsense? The SAID principle, or Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand, is one of the first things an aspiring personal trainer or exercise coach learns about. For the sake of this article, it simply means that what you do (Imposed Demand) determines how your body reacts (Specific Adaptation).
When we first cover the subject, it seems almost a formality. You lift weights so you get stronger, duh. But as it is with anything else in life, the more we learn, the more we realize we have yet to truly understand.
I bring all of this up because I've noticed a number of new clients who want to get stronger, yet they do lots of cardio. This isn't to say cardio - in the form of walking, hiking, running, riding a bike, or swimming - isn't great for you, it certainly is. But it will do little in the way of developing your strength.
If you notice you're losing your ability to lift objects, open containers, or even get up and down the stairs due to weakness, strength training with resistance (i.e. lifting weights) is your best option. I understand some people reading this may have never ventured into a gym, let alone began a resistance program, but it is in the best interest of your strength, longevity, and even your bone density to begin training your strength.
I'm assuming some ears perked up when you saw "bone density." Again, the SAID principle comes into play. When you lift weights, you put an increased demand on the muscles. Those muscles attach to the bones via tendons, through which they put an increased demand on the bones. The bones adapt to this imposed demand by increasing their density over time. The body realizes that stress is being placed upon its structure, and it knows to survive it had better begin to strengthen everything involved.
One thing I love about the health and fitness industry is that we are a very progressive bunch. Our knowledge of the human body is ever-improving. An example of this is that we used to think if people had osteoporosis or any form of weakened bones, they should avoid weight training. But now doctors are actually prescribing gym routines to their patients because they know heavy lifting can and will strengthen bones and improve connective tissues.
Let's say strength isn't your problem, but you'd like to lose some weight. Strength training can still be of benefit. But because you burn more calories during the previously mentioned cardiovascular activities, it'd be wise to put more of your focus there. Ideally, a combination of both will provide you the best results in a weight loss program.
Your body strengthens and grows the muscles due to the weight lifting, which increases the amount of calories you burn throughout the day, even while at rest. Plus the large amount of calories burned during the cardio creates a caloric deficit. If you combine that with a healthy diet, your body is forced to adapt by burning off the stored body fat you're so focused on losing.
If you can remember the thought, "You gain how you train," you'll be more likely to succeed. Train your strength, your bones and muscles will get stronger and more efficient. Use cardio of any form to train your heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system, and they'll get stronger and more efficient.
The SAID principle applies to foods as well. Eat more junk food, your body will prefer it even with all of the negative health consequences. But if you eat more healthful foods, your body will thank you for them and crave them at the same time. In fact, I hear some people say quite often that they hate vegetables. Guess what? You betcha. You may not like them initially, but the more you eat them, your taste buds will grow to like them.
I've seen studies that show people who like the taste of broccoli are generally lean and healthy. Meanwhile, those who do not like broccoli are usually unhealthy and have some weight to lose. I used to think this was due to a taste preference. Now I realize it's because the healthier people have eaten broccoli until they like it, not because they do. They applied the SAID principle to their nutrition, and their bodies thanked them for it.
One last thing: this principle applies to getting healthier, but it goes the other way, too. If you make it a habit to sit on the couch all day or stay in front of the computer, what do you think your body is going to do in response? "Oh, you know, we don't need strength or our heart health or our cardiovascular system to be in shape. Watching TV is easy. Facebook is easy." Hmmm, think about it, people. Get up and get active, or your body will respond to it. What's that timeless saying? "Move it or lose it?" Pretty accurate if you ask me.
If you're interested in learning more about the SAID principle, visit www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com, click "Blogs" and click "How to adapt, specifically." In the blog post, I dive much deeper and offer up solutions and resources for those interested in getting stronger, improving their cardio and flexibility, and learning how to eat a better diet. In the meantime, remember that your body is always adapting to your demands, so make them good ones!
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.