Saturday, 3 December 2016

Workouts and Minimalism: Test Your (Max) Capacity (Part 2)

Last time (August 2016!), I wrote about Vibrams as a way of reevaluating your running and the potential benefits of minimalist running. That was part 1. It's about time I did part 2!

This time around, I'll continue the theme of minimalist workouts by taking a look at the Max Capacity training program.

Image result for max capacity

Max Capacity is a workout regimen -- 12 weeks in duration with a variety of workouts to help you build up your core strength, flexibility, and agility.

To me, this is a no frills program and that's what I like most about it. The workout "reps" are easy to understand with simple graphics and explanations. Each week is a little different; even if you do the same four workouts, week to week something may change slightly. As with most things in life, variety is a good thing.

How I Found Max Capacity

As I mentioned in my post about transitioning to Vibrams, it was a bumpy road in every sense of the phrase. Changing up routine can expose things that aren't working for you; in my case, changing my running routine exposed the fact that I didn't have a good strengthening routine to complement my running (and vice-versa). That was back in 2012.

Out of perceived necessity, I wanted to get on a schedule for strengthening. On off-days from running, my thought was I'd try some strengthening exercises (or cardio exercises such as cycling; and of course, take days off -- those are key, too). But chiefly, I needed strenghtening in some way, I needed a variety, and I needed something simple that I could just start right away. By default, I tend to fall back on the ever-familiar combo of pushups, situps, planks, etc. And left to my own devices, I likely don't get up to my (max) capacity.

As the adage goes, "There's an app for that". While I suspected some might be gimmicky, I did look around. Specifically, I searched on my BlackBerry PlayBook -- my thought was there wouldn't be a whole lot to sift through in terms of choice. :)

Happily, one of the main options was Max Capacity. I downloaded it in 2013, tried the first workout, and mostly haven't looked back.

Strength, Running, and Rest Improved

It wasn't long (2ish weeks) before I started to see and feel results. More muscle definition, better breathing, all of which parlayed into better running. One of the reasons I initially had Achilles pain when I first started using Vibrams was a lack of strength; as a result, so my physiotherapist told me at the time: other parts all the way down the posterior chain were overcompensating.

With a bit of strength built up, I could immediately see and feel a difference with my running. My stride felt lighter, the aches in my Achilles (and back) went down. Thanks to Max Capacity, I found a balance in my exercise. And thanks to its lack of gimmicks and effectiveness of the workouts,  I've stuck with it -- either following the program week-by-week or jumping in at random points to complete a workout. I've used it during travels, too, when physical activity can take a hit -- put it on your phone, open the app, and fit in a workout in your hotel room.

Reasons that I love Max Capacity

Here's a bullet list of the things that work for me and may work for you too: 
  • It's free -- no expensive gym fees!
  • It's simple and there are no gimmicks
    • Open the app/website/page in the book
    • Do the workout
    • Repeat
  • It's accessible
    • available on multiple platforms (mobile and desktop, even as a book)
    • travel-friendly -- do the workouts in your hotel room
  • You don't need a gym, fancy equipment, or trainer -- just your own desire to start!
  • You have a schedule to follow, or you can jump in at random
    • Ultimately, you have the choice here. 
    • The only person you have to answer to is yourself, not the app.
  • If you stick with it, you feel results and progress
  • It's not gimmicky
    • It's a basic but effective interface/app
    • There's no annoying notifications
    • There IS a much-appreciated applause at the end of a workout, though. I do like that.
  • Best of all, ANYONE can do it -- beginners, included. That what I was when I started and I still feel like one sometime!
(Self-reminder: use more bullet lists in my posts!)

My favourite workout? 

I love the tabatha repetitions (4 workouts, 20 second reps x 10, with 10 sec breaks in between). But lately, my favourite is the pushup/squat pyramid; a bonus workout and a challenging but satisfying one at that. It's HARD, but worth it. When getting started, you could try to get up to 10 of each and down again.

As with all of the recommendations I make, these are things that I tried out that work for me. My hope is that something in this post and others will feel familiar and relatable to you. If your workout needs a shot in the arm or you just need to start working out, and if you don't want to sift through a bunch of options that can (frankly) be intrusive and overwhelming, gives this program a try. It doesn't need a fancy, sleek UI; it's simply effective, accessible, and flexible.

Happy workouts! Don't forget to breathe, drink water, stretch, and rest. (I'm telling myself the same thing!)

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