As a personal trainer, I’m constantly getting asked questions that begin with the phrase “what’s the best…?” The best way to lose weight, the best way to build muscle, the best way to increase strength… the best way to do this, that, or the other thing.
Despite all my years of experience, all my time spent on education, and all my beliefs on fitness— I gotta be blunt: my answer does not matter. Not. one. single. bit!
Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what the “best” workout is; the best workout for you is the one that you will enjoy doing! Because, in the end, the workout you enjoy doing is the one you WILL do— and look forward to doing again. A less effective workout that you actually did is still better than the most effective workout that you skipped over. Make sense?
If you want to build muscle, is Crossfit the most effective way to do that? No, not really. Research shows that muscle growth peaks when performing strength training exercises at 6-8 reps; Crossfit, which can be very effective at muscle building for many, still isn’t the most effective way to do that per se. If you want to lose weight, is yoga the very best way to do that? No, probably not. Even more intense types of yoga such as ashtanga or vinyasa don’t burn as many calories on average as other forms of cardio. So, while yoga can have a myriad of benefits for the body, when it comes to losing weight it’s not at the very top of the list either.
I could sit here and espouse for days about how this is “the best” for whatever goal it is you want to achieve, but, at the end of the day, fitness is a lifestyle— and you need to find a lifestyle that works for you. So do what you love. Rock out to Zumba if that’s what gets you going. Kill it at Crossfit if that’s your passion. Get your om on at yoga if that’s what lights your fire. Climb on a bike if that’s what you look forward to.
For example: I have two true passions when it comes to fitness— weight lifting and endurance running. Now… if I had a client come to me and say “I really want to build muscle and endurance run, what’s the best way to do that?” I’d have to give them a reality check. Extended cardio like endurance running is going to undercut your muscle gains from weight lifting; doing both together isn’t going to be the best route to achieve goals in either area most efficiently. But you know what, screw that— I love both. So I do both. It might be “better” if I didn’t split my focus between the two, but I certainly wouldn’t be happier.
Instead of limiting yourself to what’s “the best” way to achieve your goals, scope out several different ways that you might be able to reasonably reach your goals. Then figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you; untangle what you love to do from what you can’t stand to do. This is, hands down, despite all of the research I could present, the advice I could give, and the experience I could offer, the best way to achieve whatever your personal goal is. Just figure out what you love to do— and do it!