Living with Vitality column: Avoid workout cruise control |

Living with Vitality column: Avoid workout cruise control

Nick Edwards

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Learn how to turn off the cruise control on your exercise routine at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Tivoli Lodge in Vail with Nick Edwards, assistant director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center’s Sports Performance Program. The lecture, part of the Vitality Center’s winter lecture series, includes information about avoiding plateaus in your training, changing your routine through metabolic training principles and learning how to maximize your time, regardless of age or skill level. Cost for the Vail Vitality Center’s Winter Lecture Series is $20 per lecture, or $250 for all 19 sessions; pre-registration is required at least 24 hours prior to each session. For information and pre-registration contact the Vail Vitality Center at 970-476-7721 or visit the website at

The aging athlete has long struggled to find the miracle workout routine, and eventually has gotten stuck. You stay strong, always making time for exercise, but before you know it, autopilot has taken over and you’re stuck in an endless routine with no results. Whether it’s a roadblock in athletic performance, a deadlock fight with body weight or just boredom, the routine you’re working hard to maintain is exactly what’s keeping you from attaining goals.

As the famous saying from Albert Einstein goes, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Thousands of us do the exact same training plan we have been doing for years. When you do the same exercises every day, you’re more likely to fall off the wagon before lifestyle-changing results can be achieved. Why? Because the human body is an amazing machine built to withstand force and act upon it. Over time, the body adapts, becomes efficient and ultimately hinders your success. To turn off the cruise control in your routine, look into individualized training zones that allow you to shape your training and use correct periodization in the weight room, and let your body recover from physiologic stress.

Shockingly, for most individuals, the body can adapt and plateau within four to six weeks of repetitive exercise. After doing the same routine over and over, not only has your body adapted, but most people dig themselves into a hole by replicating training routines daily. Being conscious of how long you’ve been doing a workout and ready to take the first step by identifying and making changes to your routine will maximize your time. Many people are afraid to change due to habit or lack of how-to knowledge, or the new challenge falls outside their comfort zone, but the process is easy and can have lifelong benefits.

By operating in the correct metabolic zone, you can avoid these plateaus and expedite progress toward your goal, then surpass it. A person’s correct training zone is specific to their individual responses to exercise. To truly see change, you need to train according to what your body can handle metabolically, not what you have been doing or what you saw in a magazine. In a Ball State University study, individuals who employed correct periodization models in their routines had better overall results including improved sports performance, higher gains in lean muscle mass and changes in body composition, including reduced body fat and increased daily energy. We put tremendous physiological stress on our bodies hoping that, miraculously, our workouts will pay off. By not taking time off for recovery, we cannot fully assimilate the training workloads, and in turn, we do more damage to the body than good. If you’ve hit a plateau, then you can repair your body by resting so that it can heal any stress loads. Injuries can lead to months off from training, versus taking a few days off to adapt.

Nick Edwards is an exercise physiologist and has been a lead strength and conditioning coach at multiple Division 1 universities and for professional athletic teams. Edwards is a professional MMA Fighter and currently is ranked fifth in the world in Brazilian Jujitsu. He trains collegiate and elite athletes in the Denver Metro area and also brings the sports performance program to the Vail Vitality Center.

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