A couple of weeks ago a fellow gym-goer asked me what I was training for.
She’d noticed that I lift heavy, 3-4 days each week and that I’d been consistently upping my weights, in particular on my rows (not stalker-ish; she’s quite interested in developing her back, so she pays attention to these things).
Was I training for a weight lifting competition? Nope (this made me giggle)
To build bigger muscles? Not particularly (although that Tricep score my Skulpt Aim gave me is bugging me just a bit 😉 )
To lose weight or lean out? Nah, I’m pretty happy with my body the way it is (i.e., I’m not interested in doing what it takes to drop 3 or 4% more body fat…)
To improve my performance in another sport? Perhaps, if you consider life to be a sport (have you seen my new tag line?)
My lack of appropriate response clearly confused her, so I tried to explain that my primary reason for exercising consistently and progressively is to continue being able to perform all the activities I love, pain-free and for a long time to come.
That is, I train to stay pretty much the way I am. And when I look around at the mostly healthy-looking people in my gym, I don’t think that I’m alone.
I guess you could call it training for the status quo.
Note that this isn’t a case of simply running to stay in place (a la the Red Queen)…
It’s running to NOT end up in a worse place
Training for the status quo has myriad benefits (especially for those of us who aren’t 20 anymore…)
Why I train for the status quo
- lift it or lose it; A little time away from the gym can do a body good. Rest is an important part of the recovery (and rebuilding process). Take too much time away though and you’ll quickly lose the fitness gains you worked so hard for. Cardiovascular de-conditioning can occur in as little as two weeks. Muscular endurance and strength typically take a little longer to lose. And regaining fitness lost can be psychologically more difficult that starting an exercise program for the first time.
- maintain or increase metabolism; As we get older, muscle mass is both harder to create and harder to maintain due in part to a reduction in the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. With declining muscle mass comes a reduction in basal metabolic rate. Hence the increased challenge of keeping midlife pounds at bay. Progressive resistance strength training encourages muscle growth and allows me to continue eating (most of) the foods I enjoyed in my 20’s and 30’s without gaining (very much) weight.
- be the Energize Bunny; As ironic as it seems, a good workout, while physically draining can elevate your energy later in the day. Increased blood flow, endorphins and other feel-good hormones have a mood-elevating effect that spills over into other facets of your life. Some people even swear by exercise’s libido-enhancing effects…
- health is more than how you look; It’s not just what you see that’s important; how things are working ‘under the hood’ is a strong predictor of future health and longevity. Training for the status quo can help improve many of the health markers your doctor is watching; cholesterol, blood pressure, lung capacity, heart rate and stroke volume, to name a few.
Like ‘eating for maintenance’, training for the status quo isn’t sexy.
But it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative…
Does the phrase ‘training for the status quo’ make you think of a hamster wheel? Or do you see the benefits of exercising simply for the benefits of exercising?