One of my dad’s favorite expressions is, “If some is good, more is better.”
Lots of hot pepper on his pizza.
Big tubs of stuff from Costco. (The “more is better” mecca.)
A queue of projects for the wood workshop.
My dad is often a whirling dervish, buzzing around the house from thing to thing, even at 77. If you grew up hearing a lot of Yiddish expressions like I did, you could say has shpilkes. (If you don’t know Yiddish, now you know a new word you can throw around at parties. You’re welcome.)
I remember one night when I was a kid, my mom was on a business trip so my dad was in charge of making dinner. He was making my mom’s lemon chicken, which is basically just chicken pieces (skin on) with onion quarters in a baking dish topped with a sprinkling of oregano and few slugs of lemon juice. It smells heavenly when it’s baking.
But my dad didn’t just sprinkle oregano over the chicken. That poor bird looked like it was camouflaged on the forest floor, with only the wing tips poking out through the green.
As it turns out, I am a lot like my dad, and progressively more so as I get older. I may use less oregano, but I do tend to be overzealous and overdo things. Like coffee. And signing up for road races. And buying too many tank tops. And being a bit too quick on the draw with Amazon Prime.
This MORE, MORE, MORE philosophy followed me into the gym when I started working out. I assumed more reps, more time in the gym, and more sweat was better. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? A 2-hour workout was nirvana to me, especially if I had to wipe the sweat off after every set.
I also started out with a habit of going super fast with all of my sets. “Just bang it out,” as one of my old bosses used to say. Rep, rep, rep . . . sweat, sweat, sweat.
Well, this style can be effective if done right–like when you’re doing a short, metabolic style workout–but if I’m just ambling from exercise to exercise, just trying to do ALL THE THINGS IN THE GYM (seriously, I used to hit every piece of equipment each time I went) and cram it all in, it’s not as effective as you would think.
I used to be one of those people that you’d see in the gym all the time and wonder, “If she works out so much, why doesn’t she look like she lifts?”
Well friends, the answer back then was twofold: choosing dumbbells that weren’t heavy enough, and just going through the motions without intention and intensity. More exercises and more time at the gym does not always equal success.
So I switched things up. I started dividing up my week with days when I did longer lift sessions with the barbell, and then shorter, more intense dumbbell sessions (i.e. less rest between sets) once or twice a week. For the short sessions, I’d pick only 4 or 5 exercises and go through them round after round using pretty heavy dumbbells, only resting when I needed to catch my breath or let my muscles breathe for a second. This style is based on what Metabolic Effect calls Rest-based Training.
With this combination of workout styles came the physical transformation I had always wanted: muscle definition and a more athletic look. Finally.
So what’s the moral of the story here?
a: don’t use too much oregano
b: don’t let Rachel buy any more tank tops or order from Amazon
c: adding 1 or 2 short, intense dumbbell (or bodyweight) workouts to your workout week can build muscle, making you look more toned and athletic
d: all of the above
If you answered d, nicely done. You’ve won yourself a lifetime of nicely defined muscles. Because when people say they want to look “toned,” muscle definition is really what they’re looking for.
Let’s hear it for the iron!
PS: If you haven’t downloaded my free Home Bodies Workout Kit, you’re missing out on 10 workouts you can do right in the comfort of your own home! Download it today and get going on building that beautiful muscle!