Richards: More isn’t better, better is better (column) |

Richards: More isn’t better, better is better (column)

Ryan Richards
Make it Count

Most fitness professionals can easily design a brutal workout to annihilate any human willing enough to accept the challenge. However, what about sustainable, reasonable workouts that increases fitness over the shelf life of the human body?

Recently, I spoke to an old friend who, despite working over a hundred hours a week as an orthopedic resident at a prestigious medical institution, decided to engage the idea of a comprehensive exercise program because of his declining health. Maybe it’s the American way, but our society lives on the fringes of practicality in the pursuit of “going big.”

Keep it reasonable

First of all, more isn’t better, better is better.

You can’t beat optimal so let’s be clear on where we should be aiming. I’m going to use a few basic templates to make a valuable point.

Let’s consider a strong, fit male who can squat 400 pounds. He lifts three times per week to allow ample recovery time. It’s his heavy day, and he warms up with a set of 200-pound five repetitions; his second warm-up set is 250-pound five repetitions; finally, on his working set, he performs 350-pounds five repetitions. That is a total of 4,000 pounds lifted. Now, he is absolutely blasted, and three days are required for his legs to recover; that’s lost training time indeed.

On the other hand, let’s say he decides instead to squat five consecutive days in a row, using two sets of five repetitions on each day staying well within his limits of strength. On Day 1, he chooses roughly 55 percent of his maximum and uses 225 pounds and adds 5 pounds every day, finishing the week with 245 pounds. Over the course of the week, he is lifting much lighter weights than he’s capable of, but is finishing the week with a total of 11,750 pounds lifted. This is a 193 percent increase in total weight lifted from the former example — without the soreness, risk of injury, or time taken away from the dance floor because he can’t walk straight.

Practical workout routine

The point is that sometimes, and more often than not, daily workouts that are short, simple and within the limits of human capabilities will deliver better results in the long run because you can move more total weight, or engage more miles on the pavement in a training cycle when frequency is high and relative intensity is low.

Here’s a practical workout for the busy resident, or other regular people who want to increase fitness simply, without time and equipment:

Every day for five consecutive days, perform push-ups and bodyweight squats back-to-back — two push-ups, five squats; four push-ups, 10 squats; eight push-ups, 20 squats. Repeat for a total of four rounds. Rest as long as needed in between repetitions or sets. That’s 56 push-ups and 140 squats. Performed five days per week, that’s 280 push-ups and 700 squats per week. Each week add a repetition — three push-ups, and six squats, etc. Perform this workout for six weeks, and report back to me. Have fun.

Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at or 970-401-0720.

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