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Why Your Workouts Shouldn’t Just Burn Calories

It’s fair to say that a lot of people don’t like working out. Often times it’s because they feel uncomfortable going to a gym, or people don’t know what to do at the gym, or they don’t enjoy exercising, and it makes them sweaty and sore. But not all workouts are designed to do this, our workouts actually work differently. When you do workouts that just focus on burning calories I like to use this analogy. It’s kind of like sitting in your car with the heat cranked all the way up and then you beat the shit out of different parts of your body with a rubber mallet. You end up feeling shitty and sweaty only to go back the next day to repeat it all over again to only make small amount of progress. I mean how doesn’t that sound like a great time?

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This is exactly what you are doing with the time you scheduled for your workouts to “burn off” the “bad calories”. I want to be clear, yes you will burn calories during a workout, that is just a given, but you also do the same while sleeping and watching scary movies. Burning calories is easy, but not as effective as strength training with a purpose. Before I drop all the super top secret stuff fitness pros don’t want you to know, let me further explain why your workouts shouldn’t be calorie based.


They waste your time


Burning calories is a waste of time because your ROI (return on investment) is so low that it’s just not worth it. Is it better than doing nothing? Nope, still better to do something! Is it the best thing to do? Probably not. Is it your only option? NOOOOOPE. Can you do things differently? Absolutely.

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When you choose to do workouts that just burn calories, you’re choosing to sit in the hot car with a rubber mallet. I would hope that you have the decency to understand how unproductive this would be. This is because calorie based workouts don't focus on making you better, they focus on making you feel shitty. Don't waste your time doing things that make you feel like shit.


They make you feel super shitty


There’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a challenging workout, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of your health. It’s good to challenge yourself periodically just to see how you’ve improved, but if you’re trashing your body every day with grueling workouts, then you’re defeating the purpose of sustaining longevity.


Take for example people who do “leg day”. They spend an entire hour if not longer doing a bunch of random difficult leg exercises only to avoid doing it for another week. This format of working out isn’t ideal because of how much stress your demanding on your nervous system, muscles, and joints.

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Think of it this way, Wednesday is your go to the bar and do shots day. You get to the bar and you just pick random shots you like from a variety of different liquors. Your goal isn’t to just unwind and catch a buzz, oh no you're sprinting downhill because you have a job to get done. You wake up the next day feeling like a bag of hot shit on a muggy July day in Minnesota, only to repeat this again next week. Sounds like fun, right?

You don't have to do this and this is not the only way to workout.


They don't get you leaner


If your goals are to improve your body’s lean muscle mass, then going to the gym to burn calories is not the best choice for you. Workouts that just burn calories are only teaching you to get sweaty and sore with the misinformed idea that this will lead you towards your goals. This is not how it works, I know this because I tried them. They flat out don't fucking work and years of trying this approach I finally accept this truth.

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The reason that this doesn’t work is because your nutrition is what needs to change in order for your body to change as well. You can consider where in your daily eating habits you can make a small, but significant change. This will help with decreasing excessive calories that aren’t needed in your day. Trying to accomplish this goal with only calorie burning workouts is like eating a warm batch of cookies filled with laxatives. Taking something good and making it unhealthy with the intention of "looking better".


What to do instead??


Invest in hiring a professional


Hiring a professional is absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself in order to improve your health and wellness. Hiring a professional can be difficult because most people don’t know who to ask or where to start, so they ask people they know who might be gym goers themselves, but aren't professionals.

I wouldn't go to my car mechanic for workout advice just because he read something on the internet. This is a bad idea because people who are not educated in the anatomy, physiology, neurology, biomechanics, and other in-depth details needed to prescribe exercises will have good intentions with no idea of what they are talking about.


Instead I would find a coach who is a certified personal trainer or has an educational degree in Exercise Science. Why would I take advice from someone who has no qualifications or education? Makes absolutely no sense to me.

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This is why you should invest in a coach that has certifications and college degrees because they spent years of their life studying and learning how the body works. I wouldn't be the best person to hire to fix your car because I'm not a mechanic. Could I watch a YouTube video to learn how to fix your car? Probably. Would I know what I am doing or would I be getting the right information? Probably not.


People can have good intentions, but will end up hurting other with their misinformed ideas of what they believe how the body works.


Focus on feeling better


If you’re solely focusing on your workouts to burn off the calories you ate, I’m going to make a bold assumption that you probably don’t feel the best about yourself. I say this because that's how I felt when I was focusing on workouts that would help me burn calories. I hated how I looked and felt shitty all the time because I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be attractive which lead me to some very self-destructive behaviors and thoughts in order to look a certain so that I could feel better about myself.

I was so upset and tired of trying things that didn’t work. It was when I reframed my intention from looking better to feeling better. This was what truly helped me overcome my unhealthy relationship with fitness. I started focusing on what I could learn and do with my body rather than what it looked like. Once I did that, I started to feel better because my back didn’t hurt as much, I haven’t injured my shoulder in years, and most importantly my blood pressure and weight went down significantly.


Your workouts should be designed to improve your health and wellness by making you feel better. If you do that then everything else will happen with consistency and small habit changes.


Improve your strength skills


Strength is a skill that everyone can learn at any age and at any time no matter who you are. If you’re willing to try something, new then you’re capable of learning this amazing skill. Workouts that are designed to help improve your skills will help with continuing to make you feel better, get stronger, and have leaner muscle mass.


When you focus on developing skills you will be able to make your workouts last for years!! Take for example the kettlebell swing, there are so many different variations of swings that you can learn and progress from.

You can take your skills to the highest level which is going to get certified. This also applies to using sandbags because they are also a tool that requires a great demand of skill and strength. The possibilities are endless because you can learn different exercises and mastery of them when you focus on the skills rather than the sweats.


Next time you think you want to do a workout to just burn off some calories, feel free to sit in your car with the heat turned on blast with your trusty rubber mallet. Or you can focus on how better you will feel from taking care of yourself.

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