Inefficient Exercise – Your Solution to Body Comp Goals
Changing your body composition is easy, right? If you want to lose weight, strategically restrict your calories. At some point you should wind up weighing a whopping 5 pounds. On the flip side, if you’re someone looking to “tone up” or “get shredded” you just need that extra protein shake with your lunch and you should be good to go, right? 5 pounds of fat later your body comp results aren’t exactly what you had in mind.
So what’s the key to achieving your body comp goals? Anyone who wants to lose weight, trim down, lean out, etc.?
Before I give that away, let’s first let’s take a look at some common weight loss strategies you may or may not have used in the past that may or may not have given you some questionable results.
Common Weight Loss Strategies
They’re a dime a dozen, but honestly, some do in fact work for some people – of course however, not in your case.
Your friend lost 15 pounds doing Soul Cycle yet you struggle to lose a single pound – what gives?!
Zumba/Various group classes
Man on man, I honestly wish I could say that NO ONE gets results using Zumba as their method of “training” but it’s just not true. For some people, this is a life-changing experience – as crazy as that sounds.
Now we’re talkin’! This is the good stuff, the stuff athlete’s use to train. Dumbbells, barbells, hill sprints, treadmill sprints; these folks (for the most part) are in great shape. That’s the answer, right? It has to be…
As frustrating as it may be, all of the above modalities will work for some people, while doing absolutely nothing – well very little – for others. So, what gives?
- Are you not putting in enough effort?
- Are you using poor technique?
- Is it your coach or trainer?
- Do you need to use more weight?
- Do you need to be doing MORE?
The simple answer is no. The real answer however is inefficient exercise.
Everyone Is Different
This is nothing new. You’re different than your brother who’s different than your buddy that can look at a weight and drop 1% body fat.
What’s inefficient for one person might be another’s wheelhouse.
Stew on that for a minute. Perhaps it’s just that simple that most people tend to overlook the concept of inefficient exercise (IE) altogether. After all, it’s human nature to avoid activities you’re not good at.
So What’s IE Anyway?
Simply put something you’re not good at – efficient in. Period.
- If you’re a swimmer, running would probably be a good weight loss exercise
- If you’re a runner, strength training could be your solution
- If you’re a power lifter, running could be your ticket
It’s different for everyone and everyone needs to think this way. That being said, there are methods which work better than most for a lot of people.You can’t forget/ignore the fact that someone coming into the gym who has a goal of losing weight can probably see some great results by following a proper strength training program.
What to Look For When Choosing IE Exercises
Is it client specific?
Remember, everyone is different. Just because the row machine got Sally to lose 10 pounds doesn’t mean it will do the same for you – remember you happened to do crew in college!
Is it safe?
I’d like to assume this would be a given, but when you start thinking of all the things you or your client “suck at” you might come up with some dumb ideas.
You can have a lot of fun with IE but make sure you choose exercises that are not only productive, but also safe. Which leads to the next topic…
Don’t make your client look/feel stupid
No one wants to feel dumb during a workout; this is a great way to lose a client if you’re not careful.
Inefficient Exercises I Use For My Clients
Being a strength coach I’m not going to take someone to the pool or the track, so it’s up to me to program accordingly for my body comp clients. Here are a few of my favorites, which my clients might tell you are reasons why they “hate” some of our sessions together.
The swing is a fantastic exercise for anyone – this is nothing new if you read my blog regularly. People can get efficient in the swing, in which case moving up a bell can quickly make it much more challenging.
As Dan John says, “people have to do a lot of work to go nowhere in the swing.” That screams inefficient to me!
Most people aren’t good crawlers. Period. That makes it a GREAT inefficient exercise choice for body comp clients.
Not only is it a challenge, it’s great for neuro-developmental work as well.
Forward, backward, side-to-side – it all requires core control and awareness.
Pairing the two together is a brutal, yet very effective, inefficient circuit. It would look something like this:
- 10 swings
- Crawl around the bell once each direction – put a yoga block on their back and tell them not to drop it
- Repeat 5-10 times
Looks simple on paper. Give it a try for 10 rounds and let me know how you feel after.
- Row Machine
- Airdyne Bike – quite possibly the best “machine-based” IE exercise in my opinion
- Battling Ropes
- Sled Push/Sled Drag
- Rolling patterns
- Bear position variations
- Reaches and holds
- Jump rope
Don’t Throw Away Strength
It’s important to note that while you or your client may have a body comp goal, don’t run after IE exercises without building strength first – or at least at the same time.
For someone new to strength training that also has a goal to lose weight, EVERYTHING is going to be new to them, so presumably everything will be IE for said client – including strength training.
I don’t know very many people who haven’t seen body comp results in learning how to deadlift, squat, perform a getup, and swing a kettlebell. Results are easy to come by when you first start out, IE could be your solution to your current plateau.
Examples of How I Program IE For My Clients
Remember, not throwing away the fact that getting people really strong tends to do great things for their bodies. I like to do something like the following:
Deadlift, Jump Rope, TRX Fallout
- Deadlifts are great
- Balance out your extension work with some anterior core training via the TRX Fallout
- And keep your heart rate up via jumping rope – assuming you’re not that great at jumping rope
Squat, Airdyne Bike, Hardstyle Plank
- Squats, like deadlifts, are great
- The Airdyne bike is a brutal piece of equipment – the harder you work the harder it becomes to work
- Again, anterior core strength never fails and performing hardstyle planks are a great balance to extension training
Sled Drag/Push, TRX Row, Bird Dog
- Pushing a sled, as simple as it sounds, is a heck of a lot of work – unless you played football in college
- TRX Rows are a great upper body strength exercise
- Bird Dog will challenge rotary stability of the core and also make your client have to get up and down off the ground – something that requires a sneaky amount of work
What are the commonalities?
There’s a lot of up and down throughout the circuit – not a good idea for clients who have blood pressure issues (know your client).
We’re still getting our strength work in a number of different ways – makes me happy and makes you or your client a better human.
Heart rate is staying elevated via inefficient exercise.
Play around with some of these or create your own circuits. I’d recommend reassessing your progress every two weeks. If your program is working, keep it up and maybe only make some minor tweaks to keep it interesting. If it’s not working, stop, create a new plan, and reassess two weeks later.