On “Progress”

Received this question last week:

I was just reading you blog article, ‘The Value of Abbreviated Training’… I don’t understand. You said you have kept basically the same body weight and measurements in the last 5 years. So are you saying you’ve trained all this time, but it isn’t doing anything for you? Why would that be? – Ricky

First I’ll give my response and then expand on it briefly (after which I’ll reduce it excessively):

The short answer: I’ve been training for 18+ years. I have no specific goals that my training would address that I’m not already doing “well” in, relative to where I started. I gained a lot of muscle early and have largely maintained it or modestly increased it since, save for a couple forays into powerlifting where I was much larger*.
Certainly in the past 5 years there have been performance goals** that I’ve achieved, like the ability to do a slow, clean muscle up, or hold a 1 minute handstand (to name 2), but they have not resulted in changes in body composition.
For where I am in my life, my training gives me the ability to do everything I want, perform well enough in competitive environments (e.g. 5k/10k) given the time invested. ***
*There is good literature to suggest that one can maintain a higher fat-free mass with more total body fat, this isn’t something that I would consider healthful. There is also clearly a lean body mass baseline that different people gravitate to (lol somatype) and different people have different range permissiveness around their somatype. Which is to say, when I stopped trying to take up as much space as possible, where I was nearly 50lbs larger than I am now, I came back down pretty fast to be within 10-15lbs of where I am now
**There are also goals I did not achieve that, because of the graveyard effect, you’ll never see.
***I mean really: I strength train 1 day per week, more often than not in my garage, get lots of good and varied movement & play, and 1 day per week my wife and I run ~3.5 miles at town lake while I push a heavy stroller. It’s an approximate time trial where if we’re feeling like our children have let us sleep we can really push and if not we expect to go a few minutes slower.
As a result, I TRAIN ~ 1 hour per week (unless you consider the Saturday run just mobile masturbation, then it’s ~20 minutes of training per week), but do lots of “yummy nutritious movement” every day. Depth & breadth, rinse & repeat.
Biological organisms do not adapt to infinity. My workout is sufficient for my life right now.

7 thoughts on “On “Progress”

  1. It does amaze that, while everyone deteriorates around them, the person who maintains is not considered to be a success.

    Imagine if you found a way to save $250,000, nothing earth shattering, but then were able to maintainthat bank account balance while working 4 hours a day and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. It would rightly be considered a truly impressive achievement. The wrong answer is to dismiss that at as less impressive than someone who works 60+hours per week to see diminishing increases in their account over time.

  2. Great Article Skyler, all of your articles are extremely valuable.

    If let’s say I or a client does best ( for hypertrophy and strength) on a twice a week frequency with body weight training to momentary muscular failure, and also wanted good bone density but wants to save his joints by not lifting heavy too frequently, would you be able to train for BMD (i.e. trapbar deadlift with almost double one’s own body weight) only once every two weeks or less? while still being effective enough

    Does Bone need less frequency as it perhaps requires more time to build itself compared to muscle? I wonder if there’s any studies that show that!

    1. Patrick, If your bone mineral density is already good, then you have the prerequisite to maintain it with simple hard work. IF you don’t, then the extra heavy loading will be beneficial.

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