As we approach MFF’s anniversary (!!!), your author has been reflecting on the wild choo-choo ride of your friendly unicorn fit train.
I’m sure I’ll have more to write about — and emote about *sniff, sniff* — in future missives. But today I’ll give you a run down of some things I’ve changed my mind about over the past ten years.
For a long time (starting around year 2 or 3), I thought multi-vitamins were probably a waste. My understanding was that the body likely didn’t know what to do with some random-ass nutrients. So while not harmful, I encouraged Ninjas to skip it and go with a quality greens formula.
While I still lean towards a greens formula as my first choice, some of my smarter nutrition pals have convinced me that a (quality) multi-vitamin can totally have a place. But for it be valuable, don’t go with a cheapie brand.
For MFF’s recommendations for greens formula, multi-vitamins, and supplements can be found HERE.
Direct Ab Work
To be clear, we’ve always done direct stability ab work (think planks). But for a long time we discouraged any ab training that created movement (think crunches). This is because research suggests repeatedly flexing the lower spine can lead to back problems.
While you won’t find your pals at MFF programming tons of crunches, I no longer worry your spine will explode. And if you care about aesthetics? AND you’re sufficiently lean enough to see your abs? There’s value in specifically training those muscles to “pop.”
Furthermore… people like to feel their abs working. And I’m more sensitive than ever to the emotional value of certain exercise choices.
Real Talk: It’s still not my favorite choice unless you meet the above criteria (you’re lean enough to see abs AND you have aesthetic goals). We still prioritize training the core for stability. And because it can be provocative for many people, you’re not going to see much of it on our programming. But I’m not going to Judge Judy you if I see you doing some crunches on a stability ball.
Furthermore, getting joints to experience their unloaded full range of motion is usually a good idea. And breathing into a rounded low back to calm your nervous system is a go to warm-up and cool down drill.
Direct Arm Work
There was also a period where we moved away from most direct arm work, even when the goal was to add muscle. This was based on a few studies that suggested extra direct arm work added little growth over multi-joint compound lifts like pull-ups, bench presses, etc.
Alas, methinks the bodybuilders were right on this one. If you really care about adding beef to your arms, it’s prudent to do some regular direct arm training.
You’ll still want to prioritize getting strong at the big aforementioned upper body lifts. And if you don’t care about making your arms thicker, we’ll usually stick to compound movements that will create a bigger metabolic cost. But finishing off a workout with some arms is emotionally satisfying when you want the #ganiz. AND it can likely provide valuable stimulus for muscle growth.
Dedicated Cardio Work
In practice, this is a bit of a moot point for the MFF universe. Any Ninjas taking our classes are essentially doing “progressive cardio via strength training.” And this is almost always my choice over steady state cardio with repetitive movement in a small range of motion. MFF classes give you more bang for your buck.
And even if you’re just lifting weights with more traditional loads and longer rest periods, you’ll definitely get some cardiovascular benefits.
But if you’re ONLY doing traditional weight training with extended rest periods? Then some dedicated cardio can be warranted.
This is particularly important if you loooove to take your time in between sets. Long rest periods can be warranted if your main goal is strength. But it’s going to blunt some of the cardiovascular training effect. And it can be a bit too easy to languish in between sets.
In our old model of semi-private training, we somewhat addressed this with a 5-10 minute burst of high intensity cardio at the end of the workout. But part of why we recently moved to timed sets is to keep our Ninjas moving. Because if you’re ONLY doing 2-3 slowly paced workouts per week, you’d benefit from either a faster pace and/or separate cardio.
MFF is all about efficiency. So we just added it into the small group training recipe.
All that said, adding in some extra traditional (low impact) cardio a few times a week can be a great addition if one has the time and interest. Particularly if you’re disciplined about keeping it low intensity; crudely keeping your heart rate in the 110’s-130’s range based on age. You’ll be facilitating recovery, doing good things for your heart, and upping your total amount of weekly activity.
Sheesh. This may be the most dramatic change.
10 years in, I believe more than ever in the value of containers of time to uplevel your fitness.
We still offer our Snatched in Six Weeks program several times per year (next round goes on sale on August 23rd btw).
We’ve also started offering (totally free for members) Accountability Challenges. These challenges help Ninjas keep up with their fitness during the times of year where people usually drift.
And of course, both of our no-commitment, no-risk intro offers are dedicated periods of time. We invite new Ninjas to train frequently enough to really see the benefits of fitness: improved mood, increased energy levels, clearer thinking, and so much more.
- To try out our in-person 21- Day Unicorn Kickstart Challenge, go HERE.
- To try out our at-home, no equipment necessary HomeBody 14-Day Challenge for only $49, go HERE.
However, the way this is framed REALLY matters.
When we first launched Snatched, much of the verbiage was positioned as: “You can do anything for 6 weeks!!! Go all in!!! Only two more weeks!! You could survive on nothing but lima beans if you REALLY wanted success!! All IN!!” etc. etc.
Again, having a deadline can be helpful for many projects in life. And it can serve a place in your fitness. The problem with deadlines is their implication: after the deadline you’re “done.” And deserve a treat. This can lead to rebounds that are deeply emotionally unpleasant.
That’s why we always, always, ALWAYS focus on the long game of sustainable behaviors. Yes, we still leverage dedicated periods of extra focus to build skills, learn new recipes, and train a bit more frequently. Ebbs and flows are normal, and can be used to your advantage.
But a hardcore deadline — particularly married with unsustainable behaviors and no plan for what comes next — can lead to unnecessary stress.
Learning is living!
PS This is where I tell you how you can work with us when you’re ready.