The five basics that drive results (that most people don’t follow)
Blog post adapted from Dr. Shannon Ritchey’s Fit Body, Happy Joints episode: The five basics that drive results (that most people don’t follow)
When it comes to achieving fitness results, there are 5 basic principles/areas that play key roles: programming, exercise selection, progressive overload, nutrition, and recovery.
However, so many of us do not follow these basic principles. But why??
One of the major barriers is a lack of consistency. We live in a world governed by immediate gratification and fast-tracking any and everything we can. The issue is that consistency over time is what yields results.
Let’s look at a generalized timeline of “results”:
2-8 weeks into your Evlo routine:
- Improved strength, especially if previously untrained
- Joints begin to feel better. You notice the day-to-day aches begin to subside.
- Feel more energized overall
- Most people will not see significant muscle mass/definition increases during this time
8 weeks and beyond:
- Begin to see muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth)
- Notice size/structural changes within the muscles
- Feel more stable within your system as a whole
Unfortunately, many people step away from their routine and habits in the 2-8 week time period when things are not happening as quickly as they would like them to! They may even seek out programs that specifically “promise” results in X amount of days. Be weary of this messaging!
There is so much good to come from consistency with a routine that aims to build your body up without breaking you down. Namely, effective muscle hypertrophy without compromising your joints. Hesitant about the idea of muscle growth? Check out this episode of FBHJ to learn why building muscle consistently from an early age sets us up for success!!
This post seeks to lay out the basics for you in an easily digestible way. We will also expand on the reasons why people do not consistently follow these basics.
Basic Number 1: Programming
Programming is up first! What is it?
Programming is planning which muscle groups you are going to work on which days and how much cardio you are going to add (if any).
Within Evlo, we do all of the programming for you! You can take our free schedule builder here.
General ideas to keep in mind when it comes to programming:
1. Choose a workout schedule that you can actually stick to.
We recommend starting with 2-3 days of workouts. Solidify this habit over a month or two before building upon it with more workouts within your week. We must establish a habit before we can expand upon it!
If your schedule allows it, we recommend developing your training habit into 3, 4, or 5 days of strength training per week + daily light cardio.
When it comes to your daily light cardio, try to set a realistic goal here as well. It is not necessary to get to the “rule” of 10,000 steps per day on top of your strength training. You may find a goal of 3-5K steps per day on top of your strength training to be more achievable. Remember, the beauty happens in the consistency. Choose a goal that truly allows for consistency.
2. Avoid overuse.
In order to avoid overuse, it is important to avoid working the same muscle groups 2 days in a row. This is because exercise actually breaks down the muscle tissue, while muscle growth happens with appropriate recovery.
Here at Evlo, we give a muscle group at least a day to recover following a workout. We also suggest two, full recovery days per week to allow for your system to recover from strength training. We have an entire recovery day category that can be utilized during these days if having classes to follow allows you to keep up with your consistency!!
3. Do more strength training than cardio.
Strength training is one of the most important things we can do as we age. Too much cardio can impede our recovery and our muscular output. Listen to this episode of FBHJ for the science behind this phenomenon!
It is also important to note that more cardio does not equal more weight loss. The Constrained Energy Expenditure Model demonstrates that our bodies typically adapt to the amount of cardio we do. Meaning, when we add more and more cardio in, our body may find ways to decrease its energy expenditure elsewhere (like in decreasing your fidgeting throughout the day). It is important that cardio is dosed appropriately! Find more guidance for cardio dosing here.
4. Don’t worry about the length of time you are working out.
Instead, think about how much load and stress you are actually getting to the muscle. More on this in the next basic!
Bottom line: the more intentional we can be with our programming, the better our results.
Basic Number 2: Exercise Selection
Not all exercises are created equal.
Here at Evlo, we look at exercises through a biomechanical lens. Meaning, we look at the various levers of the body at play, the direction of the force, and errant forces to the surrounding joints.
This means that some exercises will load muscles more effectively than others. And some exercises will stress joints more than others. Our main intention with exercise selection is to load muscles while minimizing joint wear-and-tear.
General ideas to keep in mind when it comes to exercise selection:
1. Every exercise should feel “satisfyingly challenging to your muscles” and “comfortable/pain-free to your joints”.
When we say “satisfying to muscles”, we mean you KNOW what muscle is supposed to be working.
When we say “comfortable”, we mean that you should feel like you are in control and that the exercise should not feel painful.
If you do find an exercise to be uncomfortable or painful, we have a 4-step process that we recommend following! The whole process can take place in less than a minute
- Flex the muscle as hard as possible
- Move in smaller range of motion
- Stay active to avoid losing joint proprioception
- Decrease load/resistance
- Choose another exercise
- Members have access to our Form Breakdowns with suggestions for alternatives
2. Choose exercises that you ACTUALLY like .
If you hate an exercise, that does not mean that you “need it”. Again, this is an all too common fitness norm that we are trying to steer people away from.
Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. When we choose exercises that feel satisfying for our muscles and good on our joints, we have a much high likelihood of showing up to our workouts!
Choosing exercises you enjoy has even been shown to improve body composition results. In a recent randomized controlled trial, researchers found that participants who were allowed to self-select exercises (choose exercises they preferred) exhibited a greater increase in lean body mass as compared to the participants that were given a particular set of exercises!
Basic Number 3: Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is the process of slowly adding more resistance or volume (reps or sets) as your muscles adapt over time.
Our recommendation is to progress by 2-3 pounds per dumbbell for upper body exercises and 3-5 pounds per dumbbell for lower body exercises.
This process takes time! And you cannot rush muscle adaptation. How do you know when it’s time to go up in resistance? Check out this blog post!
Basic number 4: Nutrition
There is no one size fits all equation when it comes to nutrition! It is highly personalized and should be thought of as a process of trial and error!
For Evlo Members:
Since I am NOT a nutrition expert, I defer to Functional Registered Dietitian Katherine Andrew. She created 2 different nutrition programs to support our members!!
Intro Program: Fueling your fitness
This introductory program is the PERFECT place to start. This program includes 9 short and digestible (;)) videos to lay a solid nutrition foundation. Katherine highly recommends that every member start with these videos, regardless of your history or knowledge of nutrition. These videos are meant to be watched in succession! Of particular note, Video 9 highlights the importance of eating for muscle growth.
Creating a Macro Plan
Once finished with the intro program, members can hop over to Katherine’s brand new program: Creating a Macro Plan!! This program is a 5-part video series that helps members successfully build a macro plan that works for them as individuals. Katherine gives two different options for tracking macros, with and without numbers, to suit these individual needs. Get ready to feel armed with the tools for success!!
For non-Evlo members:
Katherine has been featured on FBHJ twice! These episodes are packed full of free information on how to create a nutrition plan that truly works for you!
Basic number 5: Recovery
“Your workouts are only as effective as your ability to recover from them”. Shannon says this best!!
Recovery is so important and often overlooked or pushed to the backburner on people’s quest to “get fit”.
As mentioned above, we support recovery through both intentional programming as well as with 2 recovery days automatically set within each of our plans.
Not sure if you are recovering properly? Check out this important episode of FBHJ.
Reasons why people don’t stay consistent.
It is worth it to tweak your routine and take your time to figure out what works for you. Ultimately, this is what will give you the ability to show up week to week, giving yourself the time to see and feel tangible results.
What hinders people from staying consistent?
1. They feel like they’re not getting results fast enough.
As mentioned in the introduction, you usually won’t notice significant aesthetic changes before 2 months of consistency. This is a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things, but the fitness industry can make us feel like we are doing something “wrong” if we aren’t seeing fast results.
People forget to celebrate non-aesthetic wins like increases in strength (lifting heavier), decreased joint pain, etc. These wins can indicate that we are on the right track and allow us to then reach more aesthetic-based goals! We recommend giving yourself a large runway for your goals. Shannon talks more about her personal journey with this in this episode of FBHJ!
2. They are more concerned with their workouts being entertaining than effective.
This is a big one. And this is not to say that you can’t have both! But remember that one of the main drivers of results is progressive overload. This often looks like doing very similar exercise or types of exercises while slowly adding weight/repetitions over time.
Try to avoid the urge to “change things up” on a whim or with the intention of “confusing your muscles”. Your muscles don’t need to be confused!! They need to be accurately targeted while being progressively more challenged over time.
3. They go from little to no exercise to way too much at once.
Be cautious of programs that promote extremely rigorous programming for X amount of days in order to “kickstart” your fitness journey. This can actually cause your body to go into survival mode and sideline you before your journey even actually begins!!
Your brain likes gradual changes, as one of its primary functions is to keep you safe and protected. If our goal is to exercise for longevity and for the rest of our lives, there is no need to go from 0 to 100mph at the beginning.
4. They think their routine is no longer effective when they stop getting sore.
Soreness is not a good gauge for effectiveness of your workout. It usually occurs more following novelty of movement. It is actually normal to get less sore for your workouts as your brain becomes more and more familiar with these motor patterns.
You may still get sore from time to time. It’s nothing to be afraid of! But it is also not something you should base your routine around. Stay the course with your 5 basics.
5. They think that they need to show up to each and every workout with 100% effort.
This is just destined to set us up for failure. We are human beings that will not be able to show up with 100% energy/attitude/motivation each and every time.
We have to give ourselves the ability to adapt our workouts accordingly. This may mean showing up to your regular class with 60% effort. This may mean opting for a mini class instead. This may mean following our Ease In week when you aren’t feeling your best. Or taking a Reset Week all together. Knowing that we can show up exactly as we are and truly believing that we have done enough is the best gift we can give ourselves!!