Multi tasking doesn’t work

By Andrew on 09 Mar 2018

Yes, I said it. It’s a myth and its affecting how you get the fitness results you so desperately want e.g. flat stomach, run for longer, faster, return to sport, recover from injury etc etc
 
Research into multitasking has been proven to be inefficient (check out the ‘One Thing’ by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan).
 
In summary:
 

  • Multi-tasking / multi-training is a word for those who like to be busy but not productive (I can feel the anger building but please read on).
  • When doing two tasks your pre-frontal cortex will be divided i.e. divided attention & divided focus on the task at hand will result.
  • Research has shown that multitasking is very inefficient at success and productiveness e.g. walking and juggling across a tight rope.
  • Research has shown that we lose on average 28% of effectiveness to multitasking.

 
The same is true for fitness training.
 
Let me explain.
 
Here are some common tasks.
 

  1. Wash the car
  2. Mind the children (if you don't have them – exchange for other animals)

 
If I ask you to wash the car but you only have 30 minutes to complete it because after this you need to go to the shop, drop off the children/animals, pick up the dry cleaning, get fuel for the car, go back and pick up the children/animals and then put dinner on, you could do it in this time (30 mins) with a good result i.e. clean car.
 
If I set you the same time limit but this time it’s only minding the kids, again this would be easily achieved (depending on what the kids are like but lets not go there right now). You could focus on fun play and not “fake fun jobs” that any 3 year old knows is really not fun at all (aka washing the car).
 
Final scenario (real life), you have to do both. Wash the car and mind the kids in 30 mins. So, does multitasking work?
 
Well, you’re probably thinking yes, because I do it every f*****g day and who am I to say that it doesn’t work. You might own a smart car and have two amazing kids who love to wash cars……….and you can now delete this email and unsubscribe to these emails because I hate you (I don’t really).
 
My point is, you may be able to complete the tasks but unfortunately they will not be done to the best of your ability and that is a fact. You can’t catch two rabbits at once….
 
When I would say this to female friends including my wife, I would usually get a very firm response back. I won’t repeat what they would say but I am sure you understand it was loud and clear. I started to think about how I could rephrase my point without getting all technical and upsetting my friends or having to contact a divorce lawyer. This is what I came up with.
 
Multitasking through Choice is Inefficient
Multitasking through Necessity is called being female. (McCauley & Harris et al 2017 @ a bbq somewhere near Falmouth).
 
And yes, its true, men cannot multitask by choice or necessity…….(bulldoze that elephant out of the room).
 
Now, how is all this relevant to injury and fitness training?
 
If you try and train speed and strength in the one session, you don’t become fast and you don’t become strong, you get mixed results. That’s because strength is slow (can’t move heavy things fast) and speed is fast.  You can do both but the result is like washing the car and minding the kids, they are not done to the best of your ability. This means you don’t get the necessary adaptation in your nerve, muscle and joint system and unfortunately, you don’t reach your goal.
 
Another example; would be when trying to reduce body fat but have pelvic pain when you increase exercise intensity. This is slightly more complicated but the same principal applies. The person is trying to recover from injury (minding the kids) while increasing the intensity of exercise (Washing the car). The issue here is not just mixing the two but also which one should come first. Recovering from injury should be the priority over increasing the intensity because if you are in pain when exercising your muscle system will not be working very well and you will probably spend the next 3 days limping and causing more long term issues. So, the priority is key here just like in the other example. First, mind the kids, second wash the car. First, reduce pain and second, increase intensity. Just to note, if fat loss is the goal, you should be spending 80% of your time on planning and preparing your nutrition as this is the true key to fat loss (if your shaking your head to this, you are lying to yourself and you will fail in your goal).
 
So, in your training or rehab, priority is king. Multitasking (multitrain) in fitness is inefficient and doesn’t work. You have a CHOICE. It’s NOT a necessity to multitrain, so don’t do it.
 
If you want to learn how to prioritise your training and reach your fitness or rehab goals faster than ever before, get in touch for a free 5 minute phone consultation 07840180668 or book via www.procaresportsmedicine.com .
 
If you want to continue yo yo’ing between different fitness crazes that don’t get you results and keep you in pain, then I wouldn’t call and I would probably unsubscribe to this email list as this is probably not your thing.

Booking Request

Appointments are available as follows:

We will call you back as soon as possible to confirm your booking.