The Answer To Any Fitness Question… ‘It Depends’
The answer to almost any question about fitness is mostly ‘it depends’…
Let me explain.
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, there are very few absolutes. No absolutely ‘best’ diet, no absolutely ‘best’ way to train, no ‘best’ way to lose weight/build muscle, no absolutely ‘best’ supplement.
It depends on a million factors.
That being said, there are a few things I’ve learned over the years that I can say with absolute confidence…
Showing up is more important than showing off…
True fitness is only really achieved with effort and consistency. Showing up for week after week, month after month and year after year is the way to make real lasting change to your fitness and physique.
Working out for a few weeks (and taking the obligatory selfie from your best angle) so you can show off on Instagram or Facebook isn’t the way to do it.
Long term consistency trumps short term effort every single time.
Stretching is more important than you think. A lot more…
In all of my years of personal training and working on fitness in a wider capacity, the one thing I see almost everyone neglect is their flexibility and stretching work. If only more people would stretch they’d be in much, much health and condition.
Stretching is a fantastic injury prevention strategy. By stretching we improve both muscle and connective tissue health. Stretching prevents stiffness and tightness which leads to a reduction in both the frequency and severity of soft tissue injuries.
Stretching also improves mobility, which allows you to exercise more effectively. It does this by allowing you to get into proper positions, improving the time under tension, the muscle activation and the overall technique. Being able to exercise more effectively improves exercise results quickly.
Function is far better for you than aesthetics…
Most of us (especially men), want to ‘look’ as if we train. In fact, I’d bet a chunk of change that most of us would prefer to look fit than actually be fit.
In stage shape, bodybuilders are at their least healthy. They’re under-fed, dehydrated, exhausted, deprived of minerals and have a distorted hormonal profile, yet they look lean, strong and powerful.
This however, is the look many aspire to.
The reality is that having a level of functional fitness – able to lift, run, swim, carry, climb etc and carrying a little extra body fat is far better for you than looking like you belong on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.
Quality is far more important than quantity…
I train a gym where some serious people lift – I’m talking international athletes, regional champions, competitive lifters etc.
The focus in their training is quality.
Quality of exercise, quality of movement, quality of execution. Take effective movements and derivatives thereof and repeat them. Repeat them at various loads, intensities and volumes.
Forget hitting the muscle from a thousand angles or performing dozens of sets with sub-par form and technique execution.
Quality always beats quantity.
What you dislike doing, you probably need to do more of…
This one is so key. It’s part of the reason I don’t like split routines for most people (for a lot of people, split routine should read ‘chest and biceps, never legs routine).
I believe in an all-round version of fitness. A level of fitness that allows you to be strong, have a decent level of endurance, be capable of movements, skills and all the while, look good.
It’s the foundations of my online training programme.
When it comes to building an all-round fitness, it’ll mean you’ll have to do some of the work that doesn’t come naturally. For me that is endurance work – I hate running, but on occasion, I’ll have to drag my arse outside and do it.
What you don’t like doing, you probably should do more of it. It’ll help you more than you know.
Never under estimate the power of accountability…
Being accountable is paramount to long term success and adherence.
Personal Training, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, CrossFit any Sports Club have one thing in common… Accountability to a person or group of people.
Knowing that you have to uphold a certain standard of performance, whether it be with your training, your nutrition or even both is often what inspires and motivates people to continue working, even behind closed doors.
My personal training clients and my online clients have to be accountable to me. It’s why they work hard and it’s why they achieve results.
They’re accountable. Make yourself accountable too.
It’s down to you…
Ultimately, all of this is down to you. Of course you can have people help you, guide you, teach you, motivate you, but the actual execution of the work and the effort is down to you.
Making the right choices at meal times. Getting to bed on time. Stretching. Training when you would probably rather not.
All down to you.
If you measure it, it’s more effective…
It’s because it gives you real data. It’s a level beyond opinion – your heart rate is probably the best indicator of effort and physical exertion you can quickly and easily get access to.
Most heart rate monitors also have a pretty accurate calorie counter too, so you’ll have a decent idea of your effort level and how it translates to energy expenditure.
Measuring your exercise intensity makes you more likely to work hard, improving the effectiveness of the workout.
Missing a workout isn’t the end of the world…
Having missed a workout or two, a lot of people will write off all of the work they have done up to that point, slump into a depression and really sabotage their hard work with some questionable nutrition choices.
Missing a few workouts won’t do much. Missing a few workouts then eating more chocolate than an unsupervised child in a sweetshop…. well then you’ve got some damage to undo!
Use perspective. If you can’t train, keep your nutrition in line and you’ll be absolutely fine.
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