The Missing Ingredient

Here’s a story that I hear pretty often. A friend is working hard at improving his fitness. He’s running 20 miles per week, hitting the gym 3-4 times per week, even paying attention to his diet…but he just isn’t seeing any improvement. At a glance, it seems like he’s doing all of the right things. So what’s missing?

We need to look a little closer, because it isn’t so much what he’s doing as HOW he’s doing it. What do those miles and gym workouts look like? If I had to guess, I’d bet that they aren’t particularly intense…and if you want to see your body really change, both in terms of its composition and ability to perform, INTENSITY is absolutely critical.

If you’re asking your body to consistently work at a level that it is accustomed to working, it just won’t change. Why would it? It already knows how to do what you’re asking of it.

Think of your body like a castle or a fortress. If your fortress is always attacked by an enemy that it can consistently and handily defeat, what motivation does it have to build stronger walls and better weapons? I’m not suggesting that you need to annihilate your fortress and burn it to the ground, that’ll just get you hurt. I am suggesting that you need to occasionally breach the gates and lob a few flaming arrows over the walls. So, how do we do this? I have good news. You can run fewer miles, spend less time in the gym, and still get better, faster results. Here are a couple of easy examples:

Swap out a long slow run for a shorter, faster one.  Instead of running 3-5 miles at a steady pace, try this:

  • Run an easy half-mile to warmup, then…
  • Run one mile for time (as fast as you can)
  • Run another easy half-mile to cool down

Trade an hour in the gym for a 15-minute circuit.

  • Set up a simple circuit of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats
  • Perform an exercise for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and rotate to the next exercise, and so on…
  • Complete as many repetitions as possible in 15 minutes (5 times through the circuit)

Your workouts don’t need to be complicated or time-consuming to be effective. Just don’t confuse simple with easy. While these shorter, more intense workouts will save you some time and improve your results, they do require you to work hard. By the end, you should be out of breath and sweating.

If this story sounds anything like you, please try this out for a few weeks and let us know how it goes. If you have any questions or want some more great workout examples, just email us at, or you can always leave a comment here on the blog!




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