The “something is better than nothing” argument.
An article was posted about a week or two ago discussing the concept of having to work to get a workout, aptly titled “You Have to Work to Get a Workout“. The author intended to stir the proverbial pot. In a maker of speaking, he took what is commonly considered exercise by the lay public and told them to shove it up (what they consider) their fat asses. I have not read much commentary on the piece save for a quick skim, but I imagine it ranges from internet trolls and outraged cardio fanatics to worshipers of his word. And, since you’re at my blog, I assume you want my opinion.
Though his words are a hyperbole (one doesn’t need to lift Atlas stones or shed blood to get big, barbells and other heavy things are sufficient) he is right about his main point. You will never get McHuge without a significant amount of work and challenge to the body. To build lean body mass, which ultimately increases metabolic rate, potential to do work (like hauling your kids around), and overall health, you need to put the body under a certain degree of stress that it will adapt to and grow from as a result. To the skinny guys wanting to get swoll or chubby guys wanting to finally see their 6 pack, leisurely strolls ain’t gonna cut it. Neither will it do for the lady folks wanting to increase their lady curves.
Walking the dog, chasing the kids, and working on your feet all day do contribute to your total caloric expenditure, don’t get me wrong. (I have an exam on all of this Monday.) Dr. James Levine has published much on the roll on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (creating heat aka burning energy in activities other than concerted exercise). So. It depends on your goal. An active lifestyle is highly encouraged and can certainly help maintain one’s bodyweight, but it will not making you stronger, faster, more athletic, or grow muscle.
This all comes down to the question, is doing something better than doing nothing? I don’t know. It’s a tough call. I’d wager my money (money…thats funny) that the answer depends on the individual.
- An individual who has spent the last 30 years sitting, is obese, and can hardly raise his arms above his head without panting would due to put on some strength but obviously needs many other things as well.
- For a woman who is scared shitless from a gym or squats, maybe walking is enough to get her started and motivate her to take the plunge.
- A skinny 15 year old boy who wants to get bigger to make the football team is going to need seriously step up his game if he means it. He needs BIG weights (for him) like yesterday.
- I would wager (too much betting going on) the parent who works full time, has 3 teenagers, and just wants to be healthy would get the greatest benefit from lifting heavy things 3x a week – at the very least it is the most time efficient model.
One could also take this question down a very different path. If you have one devoted to a weight training regimen but is doing something totally inefficient, is THAT better than nothing? Save for a small increase in energy expenditure and a potential increase in lean body mass initially, the result is more or less the same as doing nothing. After the initial gains, you stop gaining muscle or progressing. Is that better than nothing? Maybe. It does have the potential to frustrate an individual from lack of results and ultimately end up as nothing, though.
Doing something stupid and injuring yourself is not better than nothing.