When I was younger, the amount of time I spent in the gym was something like a badge of honor. If I told a fellow lifter that I just had a two hour workout blasting out 8 exercises, it was a statement met with a look of appreciation and the obligatory, "gym nod." But that was years ago when my body was a seething pot of testosterone fueled by longs nights of deep sleep and many well rounded meals. I could afford to lift like that with no negative side effects.
But, I simply can't do that any more. And frankly, I don't want to do that any more. I work hard all day, heavily taxing my brain. I don't get enough sleep. I don't eat that well. I do very little to enforce an aggressive lifting life style. On top of that, my life simply has more stuff in it now; friends, family, movies, work, romance (when possible) - I don't have time to just be lifting.
All this is just a lead up to my new gym rule: 4 Exercise max per workout. Going forward, I am not going to do more than 4 exercises per workout, and possibly only three depending on how I feel. I think this will have several benefits:
- The most obvious is that I won't be breaking down my body as much. This decreased level of tissue damage will be more aligned with the amount of rest and recovery that I currently get throughout the week.
- The workouts will not feel rushed - I won't be worrying about fitting so many exercises into a given time period. This will create a more relaxed, and ultimately more enjoyable atmosphere. The trick to long term dedication is keeping it fun, so really, this is an investment in my long term commitment.
- The workouts will be more intense. Whether I am aware of it or not, the more exercises that I know I have to get through, the less intensity I can probably muster up for any given exercise. If I know that I only have to get through three, maybe four exercises, I am sure that my mind will subconsciously allow my body to perform better on the selected exercises - the "go out with a Bang, not a whimper" mentality.
- My exercise selection will have a higher threshold of quality. When I can't do too many exercises, I will have to concentrate mostly on large, compound movements; I'll have to cut out many of the "pretty boy" exercises that we all love to do so much; I could do arm exercises till the cows come home, but I just don't have the time or the energy for it.
- I suspect that my workouts will become more balanced. By limiting the number of exercises that I do, I limit my own ability to do too much in any one plain of movement.
I decided this yesterday. We'll see how it goes. I think this is really going to be a good move.