Why Driving Your Car Is Ruining Your Workout

| November 5, 2013 | 6 Comments

keys-to-your-kingdom - CopyHave you ever gotten into your car to head to work in the early morning. You’re pretty tired from the night before and you’re not really awake quite yet. Your eyes still have those little eye boogers from sleep that you managed to miss when you washed your face in the morning and even the fresh taste of toothpaste in your mouth isn’t helping the overall wakeup process as you sip your coffee that tastes slightly more bitter than usual.

You hop into your car without really thinking about it. By the time you’re in the driver’s seat you’ve unlocked the doors with your automatic keypad, thrown your carryall bags in the backseat half-hazardly and are now cranking the ignition over. You turn on the wipers, while adjusting your seatbelt just so, and turn around to ensure there’s no one back behind, even though it’s 5:05 am (like the good driver you are). You pull out of the parking lot and out onto the road to head to your work.

So what’s this have to do with weight lifting and cardio? Efficiency. The real reason why weight training is better than cardio is…efficiency. Your body is a very capable and efficient machine. Everything that you put into this marvelous machine that we possess will eventually become an adaptation that you don’t even think about any more. Just like getting into your car in the morning. Did you even have to think about driving to work? You’re probably more concerned with the other activities that you had to get done during the day.

If you’re like me you’re concentrating on remembering what you’re going to train in your workout today and those little things in work that you have to get done before the end of day. Driving is autonomic. It’s pure reflex. Now think back to when you were learning how to drive. Ever drive a stick? If you have now compound that with driving a big turbo diesel with manual transmission. Talk about frustrating, but that’s the way I learned how to drive. First it was the hay loader that we used to haul hay around to the cows when I was five years old and then my dad’s big diesel tank when I was old enough to get a permit. Everything was a painful learning experience with grinding gears, sudden stops, slams and the whole lot.

Now I drive just find and it’s automatic. The same thing occurs in your fitness endeavors.

Starting Out

You often start out with good intentions and engage vigorously in a fitness program. Maybe you start running every morning for a 5K. Initially your body hates this as much as you hate waking up earlier to get your morning exercise on. But after about a month of steady slugging it out you get used to running in the early morning for about 5K. You may switch the route up a little bit for variety, but virtually everything else stays the same.

Now initially upon starting up this running program you’re burning a load of extra calories. Your body starts leaning out rapidly. One week down of running and you’re already down five pounds on the scale. Sweet! Progress.

Then a month later your numbers on the scale haven’t budge more than a few pounds. Maybe they even fluctuated up. So what gives? How can you be working out and still gaining weight or not losing. Adaptation!

Your body has become more efficient at running. It’s cruising on autopilot, just like you do when you hop in the car. You don’t even have to think about it. Your running has become a part of your routine and your body is used to routines, believe me. It likes it. It knows what to expect. Get up, brush teeth, wash face, put on running shoes and hit the pavement for about thirty minutes. Too easy!

And that’s exactly it, it is too easy!

Changing It Up

When engaging in a training program of any sorts you always want the body to keep adapting to the stimulus your applying to it. To make it better, faster, stronger, more resilient as I like to say. So how do you do that with running or cardio of any sorts?

It’s not that hard, but there’s a problem with cardio (and I’ll get to that in a minute).

You can up the volume, so you’re running more frequently or for longer distance. But how much time can you really spend out their running? One hour? Two hours? Long distance marathoners have to keep a certain level of mileage every week or they start losing their capacity for lung volume and cardiovascular responses. Not to mention the overall stress to the joints. It’s no wonder they have such a tough time recovering from nagging injuries when they’re constantly pushing the volume of their runs.

What about speed? You can increase how fast you run for distance or time. That’s an easy fix, but I guarantee you’re going to find a wall there too. No matter how hard you’re pushing you may never get to that 4:00 minute mile time, let alone hold onto that level of speed for a 5K run. But yeah, you can throw that in there too. Still it’s only going to work for a while.

So there are a few options you can engage in before throwing in the towel on your running program; however, you’re still going to be fighting that efficiency. Once your body adapts it’s not going to get any better. You can’t expect the body to adapt when you keep on applying the same stimulus, over and over again. That’s great when you’re really trying to improve on your overall running efficiency to say train for a marathon, but it’s not going to help you get leaner or get that flat tummy that you’ve always wanted.

What You Want

The real deal in as far as training programs for ultimate fat loss and lack of efficiency is weight training and here’s why –progressive overload. Weight training providing you’re following progressive overload is always going to be challenging for the body. You always have something to challenge the body with in terms of increasing load, repetitions, sets, exercises, muscle groups and intensity.

You see this is the key in your training programs. Not to mention some variety will add some spark back into your mental status too. In my next blog post I’ll explain why resistance training is by far the best method for busy moms, dads and teenagers to achieve their fitness goals.

Going for a run is great and it’s often where I come up with some of my best ideas. The blood flow is going, the brain is whizzing by at about the same speed as my feet, often even faster. At times it be nice to have a recorder to log everything down, but that might take a little too much planning. I’d rather just run for the heck of it. So don’t give up on running just yet, but keep in mind it’s a far cry away from being the only thing to focus on in as far as achieving that fit, fabulous body that you’ve always wanted.

Until next time,


“There are a lot of ways to train, I just want to help you do it BETTER!”

Be Strong, Be Fast, Be Resilient


Photo credit: fallsroad / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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Category: Tips, Wellness

About the Author ()

Jess Howland is a Veteran US Army Captain serving as Master of Youth Awesomeness and Strength Coach for Hostyle Conditioning in Orleans, ON. Jess holds a BS degree in Exercise Science from Oregon State University, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), among other training and nutritional certifications. A simple country boy turned lifetime fitness enthusiast and passionate trainer, who inspires everyone he meets to be involved in fitness, strength training and optimal nutrition in support of his personal motto Be Strong, Be Fast, and Be Resilient. Known for his high intensity, hybrid programs and never ending pursuit of fitness endeavors his former colleagues call him by his nickname CAPTAIN SMASH (CPT SMASH) or just SMASH. Jess coaches a wide variety of people as he believes in Hostyle Conditioning’s mission of transforming the ordinary lives of men and women into leading extraordinary lives that are improved through a blend of hybrid strength training and dynamic cardio conditioning. Jess has established himself as a lead trainer in Youth Strength and Conditioning, as well as specialty programming for special populations as military, police/firefighter, nurses and strength sport competitors. As a professional coach, Jess loves what he does to provide purpose, direction and motivation to those who feel that they need help in getting to from A (current fitness level) to B (goal fitness level).

Comments (6)

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  1. Victoria Ess says:

    Great metaphor. I have found myself falling into that mind trap before of not recognizing that when my workouts become ‘easy’, it’s time to change it up.

  2. Jess Howland says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I see it all the time in the gym. It’s easy to become complacent in the gym and not push it hard enough to cause any results.

    Especially when you’re running.


  3. Cheryl (@loucheryl) says:

    Great post! I just love running and sometimes it’s hard to find time to fit it in but when I do I always enjoy it!

  4. Darlene Wissenz says:

    I park at the far end of the lot when I go shopping, at least I walk a few extra steps

  5. kathy downey says:

    I use the wheel-charing parking by the door and many times I see young people with nothing wrong parking there,that could use the walk

  6. kathy downey says:

    With my Ms I find myself walking less,each year makes me less stronger !

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