Last weekend I was invited away to The Grove just north of London as part of a Fitness-Group to test drive Volvo's newest edition the XC40. Being a Swedish brand, the mantra or theme of the car –as well as the weekend– was the Swedish term ‘Lagom’. This is a word rooted in history which essentially advocates 'contentment’ or something being ‘just right’. Not too little and not too much. Think the story of Goldilocks. The term was perfect for the car; an SUV, yet not too big, packed with all the good stuff but without being pretentious. But I couldn’t help but think about the ways 'lagom' symbolised the Fitness Industry -or at least should, but often doesn’t.
1. Training Frequency
In order to see results in the gym the sweet spot tends to be around 3-5 sessions of resistance training per week. Too little and you won’t give your body enough stimulus to change. Too much, and you run the risk of not giving your body enough rest and repair time, rendering all that extra hard work pointless.
Our bodies don't like change, it's metabolically expensive so we do have to force it somewhat. In resistance training you want to be hitting each muscle group at least twice week. This means given 3-5 training sessions per week, your programming should utilise Full body, lowerbody/ upperbody , or Lowerbody/Upper push/Upper pull splits over a week to ensure adequate weekly frequency. The old-school body-builder splits of Chest, Back, Arms, Legs, Shoulders each isolated to a specific day per week is not the most effective training for 99% of the people in gyms, yet is used by the majority. Especially guys.
The flip side is overtraining. If you're training more than 5 times a week but not allocating enough time, sleep and nutrients** to recover, your body is not able to keep up or adapt to the changes you’ve imposed on it. More is not always better. I find myself preaching this endlessly to many male clients. -Lagom
2. Training Length
This goes along the same lines as frequency. We had an awesome outdoor HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session on the Volvo weekend, led by Faya Nilsson. This lasted 30 minutes including the warm up. This is perfect for a HIIT class. The growth of consumers performing 60 minute long HIIT classes 7 days a week are just accidents waiting to happen. Solution: Find a studio that pays attention to activation and mobility before their HIIT classes, and do HIIT a couple of times a week max. Just remember stress and under-recovery doesn’t just stall your progress and lead to injury, it also causes ageing. In studies done on the tabatha method, HIIT can be effective in doses of even 5 minutes or less.
Training length must be adequate to make progress. If progress is slow or non existent, are you training for the full hour during your session? Rest times are important with resistance exercise of course, but they must be adhered to strictly. If you're too liberal with the allocated rest times during training you won’t be stimulating your muscles enough to adapt and grow, or for your aerobic fitness to improve, or for your muscles to burn as many calories**. -Lagom
** ‘Goldilocks’ doses of nutrients of calories are also required to effect change in body composition. This must compliment your training.
3. Training Intensity
Similarly are you taking the easy ‘weigh’ out? In resistance training, it's important that the weight is challenging for you to reach your given rep-range. Staying in your comfort zone tells your body there's no need to change.
Hiking the weight up too much that your technique is horrific instead tells your body you don't like it. You’re only leading your body towards poor movement-patterns and injury. -Lagom
This is an obvious one. Eat too many, and you’ll gain weight. Eat too few and you will lose weight. Lagom is needed regardless of whether your goal is weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance.
GAINING MUSCLE requires a calorie surplus, but if you over do the calories too much you’ll accumulate too much fat. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to lean muscle accumulation. Put down the daily Hagen Daas.
LOSING BODY FAT requires a calorie deficit. If you drop calories too low too soon, you may get rapid weight loss but this will also include a greater loss of lean tissue too. You also risk harming the intricate balance of appetite, metabolism and fat storage hormones. This can result in rapid weight gain after the crash diet, or worse, a dampened and slower metabolism that makes it much harder to lose weight in the future, but much easier to gain weight. -Lagom ALWAYS