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Thread: Fractal exercise versus structured plans page

  1. #1
    tfarny's Avatar
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    Fractal exercise versus structured plans

    So I haven't joined a gym yet, I have spent a lot of time in the park and in my living room doing exercises, playing racquetball, doing yoga. I really love the "fractal" approach that I have been following, I think - never quite doing the same thing twice, but always trying to work the whole body in different ways. It has been great for me. However I just ordered "starting strength" and intend to get better form for the big lifts, and I'll need to join a gym for sure when winter comes.

    So, if motivation is not an issue, is "random" exercise better than a structured plan like stronglifts 5x5, or worse? Assume the made-up workouts are plenty tough and 3 x /week including a sprint-like session.

    I am asking from a body / hormonal point of view. "Whatever floats your boat" is only a good answer if it truly doesn't matter.

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    Clint's Avatar
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    According to Art Devany, it does make a difference. These are excerpts from his Evolutionary Fitness Essay.


    Most modern fitness prescriptions are static and agricultural. These programs model the body as a machine, not as an adaptive organism. Consequently, they prescribe a regime in which the body is underfed and over-trained. They are not based on adaptation, but on steady state analysis. These models assume the body is a linear process that maintains a steady state. In fact, all bodily processes are highly non-linear and these non-linearities must be exploited in any effective fitness program. The key to exploiting the highly non-linear and dynamic adaptive metabolic
    processes of the human body is to achieve the right mixture of intensity and variety of activities.
    If your personal trainer is working you out three days a week, doing three sets of the same exercises, or, worse, 5 or even 6 days a week, find another trainer. You are flooding your body with hormones that consume lean body mass. These hormones also preferentially consume fast twitch muscle, the very substance you are after for strength, lean mass, and vitality. You are draining your adaptive capacity so that you cannot build, or even keep up with the load. Worse still, you are compromising your immune system.

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    bcbcbc2's Avatar
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    This question is a lot like the xfit vs traditional training arguments. Even some people that love xfit are coming round to the idea that to get better at xfit you may need to do a little less xfit and more systematic, progressive strength and/or endurance training.

    Makes a big difference if you're trying to get fitter or maintain an acceptable level. Trying to measure progress without a repeating pattern is tough.

    Forget hormonal. Your body does what it needs to to adapt to the exercise you give it. The best research says that the 'greater' hormone levels from some exercises are practically meaningless.

    The best compromise may be something like mon-pushups, wed- dips, fri-db presses. Variety within a pattern that allows progression. Do that for 6 weeks or so then create a new pattern.

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    iniQuity's Avatar
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    I think the "Why I walk" essay was posted here, I have it on a PDF at work so I can't post it now but it's about spontaneous exercise and sort of bashes structured exercise.

    I'm for both. To measure gains, if that's your thing, it's best to have a set pattern so that you know you did more reps, heavier weight, less or more time, or whatever unit of measure for the given exercise. You could do this on a spontaneous approach, but typically the conditions pre and post workout will be the same on a structured approach thus making the comparison and progress measurement easier.

    My spontaneous work is mostly "greasing the groove" for different exercises and also I randomly like to practice my frog-stand (working up to a handstand) and when I can do a handstand I'm sure I'll be doing it randomly through the day, as well as other fun things. Also, I don't have a day by day routine, but I seem to almost always do some sets of varying grip pull ups, push ups or dips (or both) some sort of squats if I'm not sprinting, etc... so everytime I work out I try to make it full body if I can ...

    There's benefits to both.

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    rphlslv's Avatar
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    If you are a novice then you should stick to a plan (SS, SL, etc) in order to build a solid foundation. Then you can go from there. Don't waste your time screwing around the gym because you won't get too far.
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    tfarny's Avatar
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    How about measuring gains via Mark's PB fitness approach (# of max pushups etc.). Those are exercises I do regularly anyhow, or variations of them. I could do a "fitness test" monthly and tack progress. Photos might be a fine way to track as well - I could make an "LGN index".

    Today I'll do some squats holding an old car tire in each hand because dad doesn't have a barbell (on vaca at parent's house) and BW squats are boring. Probably combine that with the unbalanced-hands pushups (one hand on a paint can) and find somewhere to do some dips. No pullup options around here sadly, so I might see where I am at with a handstand pushup (probably not ready).

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    That's probably workable.
    Progress with what you want to do rather than a lttle more progress with what you dont want to do may be a very intelligent decision in the long run.

    Stick with all tire w/o
    Bent rows with the tires - at least it's a pull.
    OHP with one tire dropping it around your head - that should entertain your family
    tire throws could be cool too.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rphlslv View Post
    If you are a novice then you should stick to a plan (SS, SL, etc) in order to build a solid foundation. Then you can go from there. Don't waste your time screwing around the gym because you won't get too far.
    Says the novice..

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