Do you want to reach optimal fitness? Are you looking for a workout routine that will help you finally get the body of your dreams? Read on to see what we recommend.
I’ll be the first one to admit that the subculture of health and fitness can be a pretty weird place. You have millions of people, all over the world trying to benefit their lives through physical activity yet instead of coming together we form little cliques and argue about what method is best.
Weight lifting, running, cycling, HIIT training, we argue about them all with some people going even further, saying things like “you’re not a real lifter if you wear gloves”… urgh!
In all honesty, the whole thing is exhausting, and the arguments are stupid, especially when you realize that whatever your argument as to which exercise is the best, you’re probably wrong.
But don’t worry, because, in this article, I’m going to tell you the right way to approach physical fitness for the rest of your life.
Foundations of Fitness
When you choose a form of exercise, you do so knowing that it will bring about certain positives for you. You enjoy what you do, and as a result, you keep doing it.
You may look better, feel better, move better and you may well start to have a little fun, but the problem is people then begin thinking that the only way to exercise is that way, THEIR way, as though it isn’t possible to have fun doing anything else.
They have fun going to group exercise classes, and they lose weight, so they tell everyone that nothing else works and that they should follow them.
Or they take up swimming because it’s a low impact form of exercise and become convinced that everyone should swim, and no-one should run.
Truth is, if you’re only sticking to one form of exercise, you’ve got it wrong, and you could be doing more harm to your body than good. Whatever the exercise is.
Why We Exercise
We generally exercise to accomplish one of three things.
Whether you lift weights, run track, or do early morning yoga, you’re probably doing it for one of the reasons above, thing is, there’s more than one way to feel better and more than one way to look better.
It's well established that lifting weights can help you to grow your muscles and change your body and we all know how Yoga can impact our posture, balance, core strength, and flexibility, but what you may not know, is that by only doing one of these things, you can be causing other problems for yourself that will appear way down the line.
The Deeper Impact of Exercise
You probably already know the general benefits of exercise, such as why you should lift weights or take part in cardio workouts, but do you know some of the other reasons behind why you should exercise?
Resistance exercise helps to develop stronger muscles and improve bone density, which builds a strong, supportive frame and fights off disease and illness both now and in later life. Osteoporosis, an affliction many elderly people suffer from, is a by-product of having low muscle mass and poor bone density which is why so many elderly people break their bones with ease. Of course, there are other benefits of resistance training, but building a stronger body is one of the most important.
Improved flexibility from Yoga and stretch type activities is something that not enough people understand. It’s more than just being able to touch your toes, being flexible is about increasing the range of motion at a joint which as a result, helps to improve posture, muscle coordination and reduces the risk of muscle aches, pains, and soreness. Having more range of motion, and being more flexible will help you to carry yourself better and move with far less difficulty, again something you will benefit from as you age.
Better aerobic capacity is more than just being able to run, cycle or row for a long period of time, it’s also the underlying science behind it and the positive impact it has on your heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system as a whole. Improved aerobic function and a more efficient system will help you reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, lower the risk of developing diabetes, and limit the chances of you developing other serious health problems.
As you begin to understand the importance of physical exercise and how it impacts your body, you start to get a better understanding of why just sticking to one form of exercise isn’t the best way to proceed.
The Optimal Way to Exercise
You should already be starting to understand that sticking to one form of exercise, no matter what it is, won’t give you the best long-term health benefits. Sure some forms of exercise may achieve more than one objective at a time but getting 30% of the benefits once isn’t the same as getting 100% of the benefits 3 times.
Spinning may help you to improve your aerobic capacity and strengthen your lower body, but it won’t help your posture or flexibility, and while HIIT class may involve a range of elements, great for full-body fitness, it won’t give you the same type of impact as if you were to dedicate time to one specific area.
As a result, you should start to look at a more comprehensive workout schedule, adding a variety of exercises into your life.
It is possible to lift weights and improve your muscle mass while completing regular cardio work, and it is possible to run longer distances, and still be able to deadlift your body weight.
Don’t believe me, just look at the pros, Mo Farah, the world and Olympic champion over 5 and 10k can squat over one and a half times his bodyweight, and Phil Heath, multiple time Mr. Olympia, regularly speaks of his love of running.
The appearance of these men is the polar opposite, but they both engage in similar forms of exercise, just to different degrees and intensities, showing it is possible to focus on one area of fitness but still benefit from others.
The Fitness Blueprint
When it comes to planning your ideal training regime there is no real blueprint to follow. The goal should simply be to include all elements of fitness and although this may not be for everyone, that’s why CrossFit is so great.
CrossFit is built on the idea of combining multiple exercise disciplines into one workout session and in a typical WOD, you may be asked to run, lift weights and perform a range of gymnastic movements that require you to improve your flexibility and range of motion.
We’re not saying you have to do CrossFit, but modeling your sessions on their ethos could be a good place to start.
You may want to work out 6 days a week instead of and you may want to include dedicated weight training sessions 4 times a week with the other two being cardio and flexibility sessions, or the other way round, it’s fine either way, the key, however, is to ensure you’re including all elements of fitness at least three times a week.
If you want to truly reach your fitness peak then it’s time you ditch the one-track mind and start adding other forms of fitness into your routine.
Although we used CrossFit as an example you don’t have to set your sessions up that way and it is ok to spend entire sessions dedicated to one discipline at a time, just ensure you’re achieving all three through the week.
By taking a more inclusive approach to fitness you will begin to notice the improvements almost immediately, and more importantly, you will thank yourself for adopting this new approach 10, 15 or 20 years down the line as you begin to age but still feel as strong and mobile as you do today.
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