Why focusing on 2-3 key sessions each week can unlock your best body:
You’ve heard the expression “You can achieve anything if you work hard enough at it.” It’s certainly true in some pursuits, but when it comes to fitness training, too much sweat equity is more likely to leave you exhausted, uninspired and smack in the middle of a plateau — both a physical and mental one — rather than admiring your accomplishments in the mirror. Just consider the person at the gym every day, panting and dripping as she talks about her killer workouts, all of which belie a body that looks exactly as it did three months ago. Chances are, after a while, you’ll see her less and less.
I think that the theme of exercise abuse amongst ‘fit’ people is almost as bad as the lack of exercise amongst the general public. Now you might say to yourself well, what’s the big deal… if these people are fit, then they are healthy and strong, why worry about them. But actually, exercise abuse leads to exhaustion, stress, fat storage, overuse injuries, weakness, pain and a lack of over all performance. So no, people that workout are not always the healthiest people, and that can mainly be attributed to the fact that most people you ask don’t truly understand what ‘WORKING OUT’ means.
True and smart exercise can help you become stronger, more muscularly enduring, and less susceptible to injury. Engaging in regular exercise can improve body composition and increase cardio- respiratory functioning. However, people constantly abuse and break down their bodies because they don’t understand the correct definition of exercise. This does not mean that you cannot use running, playing basketball, or biking as a form of recreational activity or a cardio-respiratory activity, but, please note that the strength and conditioning and working out is different then taking part in sports activities.
WHAT IS EXERCISE?
You’d be very shocked to know that many people will not answer this question correctly…
I understand that this may seem elementary but you will be shocked at how many people get this question wrong. More importantly, you yourself might not truly understand the real definition of exercise. But in order to get the body you want this must be the very first thing you understand.
This might actually shock you, but exercise is not sport. That’s right, marathon running, swimming, playing tennis, basketball, even surfing and martial arts like kickboxing or boxing are sports—they are not a strength training and conditioning exercise routine. What do I mean?
Let’s start at the beginning:
There is sport and there is exercise—the two are very different. We often mistake one for the other between many people have taken up recreational sport activities as a way to stay active and fit—using a sport as a form of “exercise.” However, sports are not your exercise routine.
Recreational sports like swimming, running, playing tennis or basketball are activities or, sometimes, hobbies. Your exercise routine is the strength and conditioning regiment used to get you in shape for your sport and to help you fortify your body and avoid injury from your sport, as well as in your life. The only exception is bodybuilding and, to a point, power lifting—however power lifters still have a strength and conditioning routine to help fortify them for their sport specific lifts. So why are we confused? To be honest, the word “activity” is bland, while “exercise” merits huge amounts of recognition and respect amongst our friends and peers. When I say I exercise it means I have discipline, it means I am strong and healthy and I care about myself. Activity on the other hand feels like a random act of anything. You might still be confused—I know I was. I thought that people who play basketball with their friends or run marathons or box are exercising—but no, they are being active, perhaps they are recreational athletes or even professional athletes. But if you notice, marathon runners, swimmers, football players, as well as all other athletes, have a strength-and-conditioning exercise routine that is separate to their sport.
Your exercise program is made for two reasons (and it’s not to get you bikini ready – but, if you do it right – it will).
Performance enhancement: a solid exercise program is meant to improve your ability in a specific sport. This is why triathletes, basketball players, tennis players, swimmers, and every other professional athlete participate in a regular, regimented, and prescribed strength and conditioning routine.
Injury Prevention: as you train, workout, or exercise (all interchangeable terms) you are fortifying and balancing your body. Correct exercise should never ever lead to injury. While it is okay to get injured in your sport (like falling in a hockey or tennis game) it is absolutely NOT okay to get hurt lifting a weight, a kettlebell, or doing a push-up. Those exercises are made to fortify your body and aid injury prevention. The by-product of exercise is a healthy and fit looking body. Yes, I called it the by-product! While many of us start exercising to lose weight and look better, in the true definition of the term, improved body composition and increased cardio-respiratory functioning is a simple by-product of fitness and exercise. And while you can also find yourself losing weight and feeling better when you become active—and, perhaps, begin to play or take part in sports— exercise /fitness training is directly related to balancing the body and providing the best overall results in health and wellness, as well as in all of your recreational activities and your daily life.
Need an example? Consider two sports I really like: tennis and boxing. In tennis you are constantly using one arm; in boxing you have one lead so you are overworking one area of the body in a specific range of motion. You would need to hit an equal amount of backhands or punching combos with your other hand to avoid creating an overuse or muscle imbalance in your body. The job of your exercise routine is to balance the body and make sure the length-tension relations are equal and that your right and left are not unilateral. So you see, there is exercise like strength and conditioning and there is sport and activity like marathon running, horse back riding, volleyball, and soccer (to name just a few).
Exercise (Unlike Sport) Should NEVER Cause Injury:
This is a fact, exercise should never cause injury. Properly conducted, exercise will make the joints and connective tissue more mobile, as well as increase your ability to exert more force. Proper exercise will improve performance and longevity in any activity or sport you do, and do the same in your life. Now while you can suffer an injury in sport (tennis elbow from overuse, runners knee from overuse, a sprained ankle from slipping on your snowboard) you should NEVER see overuse or acute injuries in your strength and conditioning routine.
Don’t Abuse Exercise
True and smart exercise can help you become stronger, more muscularly enduring, and less susceptible to injury. Engaging in regular exercise can improve body composition and increase cardio- respiratory functioning. However, people constantly abuse and break down their bodies because they don’t understand the correct definition of exercise. This does not mean that you cannot use running, playing basketball, or biking as a form of recreational activity or a cardio-respiratory activity, but, please note that the strength and conditioning is a different thing. And it’s your actual workout routine that will make you look, feel, and function better in every aspect in your life. To get and keep real results you must follow a program, don’t abuse exercise, have fun, and see results.
Why Is This So Vital For You To Understand?
The only way to grow in your fitness and physical health is to understand what exercise is. With my clients, I firmly believe that if we are training together, we should be transparent. You should not simply follow my every move or word (or the word of any other ‘fitness Guru’, trainer, fit superstar), you should know why you are doing the exercise and what benefits you will gain from proper training. You need to learn to trust yourself when you train. You cannot just trust every new person you meet. Just as I asked you to trust yourself, you need to learn to trust a single, result driven workout program. The people who get and keep the best results are those who have a clear understanding of what fitness is, and stick to a program, not take part in countless random workouts. In my private and group programs, I lay out a clear plan of training. All workouts should always involve the fundamentals of fitness. These exercises are independent of your sports, and will link together to balance your body in muscle strength-and-length, as well as challenge and enhance your body’s stability, agility, coordination, and cardio-respiratory function.
How To Put This Information Into Practice:
Stay active, play sports, go for runs: We all sit for a great part of our day, so getting active with a fun activity like a sport (tennis, bowling, marathon training, martial arts, basketball, archery) is ideal to off set all of those sitting hours.
Have a supplemental workout program that will make sure you are correcting muscle imbalances, working on real strength gains, and getting you equipped for your favorite activities and for your life.
For weight-loss: You can lose weight just staying ‘active’, running, swimming, playing volleyball, surfing – BUT you will not get the body you want (inside and out) without an actual strength and conditioning routine. remember you must build muscle, as muscle is far more metabolically active then fat.
How often? If you are like me and have a sport, or activity routine (I train martial arts almost daily) my strength and conditioning routine is 2-3x a week at most. Any more and I would suffer over-training. So, for active individuals 2-3x a week is great. For those who only have time to get a workout in, try a HIIT, running, spin, yoga, walking routine 1-3 x a week, and a strength and conditioning (circuit, strength, power, body weight, kettlebell, machines, TRX — push, pull, hinge, squat ) based workout 2-3 x a week
Change it up. After a few weeks, speak with a trainer about how your fitness training can progress. As you get stronger or adapt, your workouts need to become increasingly challenging to avoid plateaus, and a professional can help you figure out the most effective way to go about it for you. Soon, you’ll notice how you look forward to those sessions, showing up ready, eager and excited to give it your best effort. Embrace that feeling of athleticism and enjoy your well-earned results. That’s the way to keep yourself truly engaged and excited, and it’s how the fittest people in the world get there and stay there.
So, do you know what exercise is?
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