“I don’t know how my body got like this.  My entire life I’ve done the right things.  I have eaten a healthy diet. I have exercised regularly.  I have been doing the right things for as long as I can remember.”

As a personal trainer and MAT™ specialist in Schaumburg, this kind of statement is one that I hear every now and then.  People are in disbelief that, despite their best efforts, their bodies are not feeling and functioning as they would expect.  Their joints are achy, their muscles are stiff, and their once-youthful energy seems to be just a memory.  And the most frustrating part for them is that they have always tried to do what others told them would be good for them.  They always tried to do the right things for their body.

However, the unfortunate truth is that the information they were given and the activities they were doing have likely contributed significantly to what they are now experiencing.

I can’t speak for nutrition, but, when it comes to exercise, rarely do we ever do the “right” things.  Yes, being physically active very is important.  Yes, getting up and moving around is, generally, far better for you than not.  But if we are actually going to consider it to be the “right” thing to do to maintain our health and promote the longevity of our bones, joints, and muscles, then we need to distinguish between two types of exercise — 1) exercise where you are using your body and 2) exercise where you are (re)building your body.

These two types of exercise are not mutually exclusive.  If you are doing exercise to (re)build your body, you are using it, as well.  And, if you are doing exercise to simply use your body, there may be an aspect of (re)building it that comes, too.  The biggest differences between the two types are the macro goals, the micro goals, and the intention of each.  Before we dive into this, let’s first define what each kind of exercise is.

Exercise where you are using your body is just as it sounds — being physically active for a reason that is not focused on building your body or helping it recover.  All physical activity has an aspect of using your body.  Biking, running, swimming, any sport or game, lifting weights, group classes, yoga, pilates… the list goes on.  If it is some form of physical exercise, you have to use your body in order to partake in it.

Exercise where you are (re)building your body is a specific classification of exercise.  Exercising to (re)build your body is specifically designed to improve the workings of the various internal component parts–such as your muscles, bones, and joints–of your body.  This can be done by building up the component parts with a higher challenge or allowing the component parts to recover with a lower challenge.

Think of exercise to (re)build your body like either tuning up or building up your car’s engine.  If your engine is already the right size, you need to keep tuned up so it stays running well.  If you want a different size engine, you need to build it.  However, neither of these goals gets accomplished by simply driving your car.  You need to set time aside specifically to have the engine rebuilt or tuned up.  You don’t get either by just using your car.

With exercise, we see the differences in a few ways.  First, your macro goal, or your goal for the long term, may either be more towards health and longevity or more towards performance.  Second, your micro goal, or your goal for the day, may be either internal or external.  Finally, your intention in the moment may be focused specifically on what is going on inside of your body or focused on what is going on around it.

  Macro Goal – Long-term goal Micro Goal – Daily goal Intention – Your focus right now
Exercise To Use Your Body Performance External (improving what is outside of your body) What’s going on around your body
Exercise To (Re)Build Your Body Health and longevity Internal (improving what is inside of your body) What is going on inside your body during each exercise

The more closely your macro goals point you towards health and longevity, the more frequently your micro goals are to improve the internal components of your body, and the more often you focus strictly on what is happening inside of your body while you are exercising, the more you will be exercising to (re)build your body.

Likewise, if your macro goals are more towards performance; your micro goals are focused on the number of sets and reps, the amount of weight you are using, or the speed or distance of your activity; and your intention is set on things such as moving the weight or moving faster; the more you will be exercising to simply use your body.

Just like any object, if all we do is use our body and never focus on (re)building it, sooner or later it will break down, even if we feel like we have been doing the “right” things all along.  The question then becomes, “How can you start to shift what you are currently doing from strictly using your body to starting to (re)build it?”.

Here are seven changes that you can make to your current exercise routine to help you start to (re)build your body:

  1. Add in resistance training a minimum of two times per week.
  2. Move slowly (or not at all) when you are doing resistance training.
  3. Focus on squeezing your muscles while you are doing your resistance training exercises.
  4. Don’t worry about sets and reps. Instead, focus on time and fatigue.  Try to perform an exercise for 45 to 60 seconds and work up to the challenge being at least an 8 out of 10.
  5. Don’t “Just do it”.  Listen to your body. If an exercise is causing pain or you are feeling unusually drained or tired, stop exercising for the day or do something different.
  6. Stop before you are sore.  If the exercises you do are causing you to feel achy and sore after doing them, you are doing too much.       Cut the volume of exercise you are doing in half and build back up slowly from there.
  7. Add in specific recovery time such as a Muscle Activation Techniques™ session to make sure your muscles stay working well and firing on all cylinders.

Also, you can check out these three blog posts of ours to help offer more guidance on how to exercise for longevity and health (1) Six Tips For A “Six-essful” Life Of Exercise; 2) Five Principles To Help You Exercise For Life; 3) 7 Exercise Tips If Your Body Has Been Getting Achier For No Apparent Reason). And if you haven’t already, you can receive our free e-book that explains these principles in greater detail here.

Remember, if health and longevity are the goals of your exercise program, you need to make sure you are exercising in the correct way to help promote those goals. While using your body can be beneficial, doing exercises to specifically (re)build your body will pay dividends down the road. Making it a priority to add in exercise to (re)build your body will help to ensure you are truly doing the right things to help you reach your health and exercise goals.

Interested in learning more about the personal training and Muscle Activation Techniques™ experience at Muscle Activation Schaumburg?  Contact us and connect with us on Facebook!

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Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates is the leading consultant to high-level professional, college, & high school basketball players in the Chicagoland area for injury prevention, recovery, & muscle performance. As a certified Muscle Activation Techniques® MATRx practitioner & former college basketball player, he uses his personal experience & understanding of the game & player demands to create customized exercise options for his clients to recover faster & perform their best. He is certified in the highest levels of MAT®, including MATRx, MATRx Stim, and MAT® Athlete. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!