Why do you exercise?
Is it to improve your health? De-stress? Lose weight? Get stronger? Live longer? Whatever the reason, it is to enhance your life in some way.
Why, then, do so many exercise programs end up leaving you worse off than when you started?
Answer: You think you have to kill yourself.
The world of extreme exercise is becoming more and more wide spread. Crossfit, Insanity home workouts, HIIT Training -- these are everywhere!
Everything is about working harder and harder, beating yourself up more and more until you can’t walk, and seeing just how much punishment your body can endure.
I think we have confused sport with fitness.
Sports and athletics are about optimizing performance in a single event/activity, but they do not promote long term physical health.
Just think about any high level athlete. Most of their bodies are so beat up by the time they retire, they live the rest of their lives in pain, dysfunction, and limited motion.
Fitness, on the other hand, is about optimizing performance in life. This means helping you to do more, have more energy, think more clearly, and increase your overall quality of living.
To be fit, you do not need to kill yourself in your workouts. And from what I have seen, I think all this high intensity training is doing more harm than good.
This doesn't mean, however, that your workouts should be easy. They still need to challenges you. But the one idea that is critical for you to take away from this article is that true fitness comes from achieving the minimal effective dose when it comes to exercise.
This flies in the face of a lot of what you may read or hear, but if you want to maintain or regain your fitness as you age, this is going to be your saving grace.
Again, this does not mean that you do not push yourself or work hard…but you constantly are in search for the minimum work needed to reach your health and fitness goals.
Do you need 2 hours on the treadmill? No.
Do you need to do 50 burpees followed by 100 squats followed by 50 cleans? No.
Do you need to run a half marathon with barbed wire, freezing water, and climbing walls? No.
Is this even good for you? Not if your goal is enhancing your life!
Just think about all the stress that you are putting on your body in each of these settings. And yet people do this day in and day out because they think they need to push themselves harder and harder.
So, if killing yourself doesn't work, what does? Let’s look at what it actually takes to maximize your fitness, functionality, and fulfillment in life:
1) Find peace in your life
If you are stressed out 24/7 then you are not going to be fit, happy, or capable of doing the things you love to do.
Stress can cause just as much physical pain, weight gain, and muscle tightness as anything else you do or don’t do.
With that said, you probably already know that exercise can be a great way to reduce stress. But beating yourself up in your workouts is going to have the reverse effect.
And while exercising the right way is great for your phyiscal and mental health, it is not a cure all if you have too much else going on in your life that is stressing you out.
Working to simplify your life is just as important as daily exercise when it comes to looking and feeling your best.
2) Eat like you know you should
You already know how to eat well, but you don’t do it. (Usually because you haven’t worked on the previous step of de-stressing.)
Every meal you eat is an opportunity to boost your mental and physical performance to get closer to the life you want.
But you have to have a reason to eat what you know you should, and when you are stressed out and feel like a prisoner in your own life, food can sure be a nice comfort.
3) Lift weights
While you don't want to overdo it in exercise, you still need to push your body. The key is to push yourself just enough to get you stronger.
The goal should be to choose the heaviest weight you can list while keeping perfect form. If you are actually keeping form, you don’t need as much weight or as many reps.
How do you know when to add more weight? When the weight you were using doesn’t seem that difficult any more.
4) Get your heart rate up...and then let it rest
Interval training is the way to go when it comes to cardio, but you need to be smart about it.
Unlike most HIIT programs, true intervals involve long rest periods to allow your heart and muscles time to recover before the next round.
So, the goal in this type of exercise is to run/bike/row/etc for 10-45 seconds, but then resting until your heart rate stabilizes. This could take up to 90 seconds (or more!).
5) Keep moving
Getting to the gym is great, but if you go and sit for 24 or 48 hours after, your body is not going to like you very much.
Sitting for just 20 minutes starts to turn your fat burning enzymes, and after 2 hours your HDL (the good cholesterol) starts to drop. Sitting also increases your risk of cancer, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
So, standing up and moving around needs to be a priority in your day. You can get a standing desk, go for walks, pick up a sport, or play with your kids. Whatever you do, just keep that body moving!
If you follow these steps, you will find see that you will not only end up getting better results (since you won't be hurting as much) but you will also start to see improvements in your day-to-day life.
If you want to compete in a sport or look for a physical challenge, go for it, but don’t confuse competition with fitness.
If fitness is your goal, then follow the 5 steps:
- Find peach in your life
- Eat like you know you should
- Lift weights
- Get your heart rate up...then let it rest
- Keep moving (no sitting!)
With that said, you may not be 100% sure of where to start when it comes to exercise. If you need help getting started, or want to make sure that you are pushing yourself the "right" amount, then having a fitness coach is the way to go.
Remember how I said that you want to lift as much weight as possible while still doing the exercise with perfect form?
That's what coaches are for. Of course that's just one part of what they do.
Coaches are also there to make sure you have the right program for your specific needs and goals while keeping you accountable to your plan so that you stay consistent!
So, if you want to start getting better results while not having to kill yourself every time you go to the gym, please reach out and see if we are the right fit for you.
Just click the "schedule a call" button in the upper right and book a time to chat with us today!
Mint Condition Fitness empowers people to take control of their fitness and fully enjoy the life they have built.