One of the things I often see with people that are trying to get into the fitness lifestyle is that they often fall into what I call the "all or none syndrome." Starting a new journey into a healthier lifestyle can be challenging. Oftentimes, it forces people to TOTALLY revamp their daily lives. From sedentary to working out. From staying out all night to going to bed earlier. From eating poorly to making better food choices.
What I caution people on is trying to avoid the all or none syndrome. You do NOT have to do everything perfectly when starting out. Admit to yourself that there WILL be bumps in the road.
Now most people that start out are truly energized. They WANT to make the proper changes. That is great! Still, it is imperative to realize that if something occurs that alters your plans on this new healthier lifestyle, to roll with the punches and not allow it to sabotage your success.
If you had a workout planned and had to work overtime, don't let this small bump destroy things. Simply move the workout to the next day and move on. If something comes up and you cannot eat the perfectly planned meal you prepared, make the best choices you can under the circumstances. Don't just say to heck with it and eat a McDonalds, but instead pick the healthiest options you have available. Perhaps a healthier sandwich at Subway,
Remember, the fitness lifestyle is not a quick fix! It is not something you do for three months and then walk away. No, this is a lifetime commitment. When something throws a wrench in your plans, simply accept it and move ahead. What you cannot allow to happen is that since you missed workout you then decide to let things snowball and eat bad, stay out late and fall back into bad habits! Accept the realities of life, but ALWAYS keep moving forward!
When I first met Michael, he came to me looking to get into better shape as he was 283 lbs, was on blood pressure medications, and had a family history of heart problems. Simply put, Michael realized that he needed to make some life changes to protect his health.
Michael and I sat down and put a plan together which included a proper diet, cardio, stretching, and strength training! What I can say about Michael is that he did everything I asked and more! He immersed himself into the fitness lifestyle.
One of the things he always enjoyed was hiking, so we included this into his training regimen along with the other components. Ironically, when Micheal advised his doctor that he had hired a trainer and that he was including strength training, his doctor indicated that all he really needed was cardio. Still, Michael continued with our plan, and he was soon down 20 lbs. As he continued to drop fat over time, his doctor finally admitted he should continue with the plan as he was making great progress. Eventually Michael lost 50 pounds and was off of his blood pressure medications. Michael is now down to a healthy 212 pounds and in September or 2014 climbed to the top of Mt. St. Helen's! A week later, he completed his first half-marathon!
Michael's story shows what can be accomplished through a good training program, and a strong desire to succeed!
Michael on top of Mt. St. Helen's
So I was thinking about the way we train. I think the biggest problem with the way most people train is that they do what they like, but don't do much of the things they don't. For instance, if you love to jog, but hate strength training, generally we jog much more than train with weights! The same thing happens the other way around as well. I suppose that is just human nature!
Still, for overall fitness, should we do it the other way around? I mean we are better runners because we love to do it! Still, shouldn't we focus more on what makes us healthier overall?
I personally have always struggled with this. I mean I love pushing myself under a heavy weight stack but have never truly enjoyed cardio. Sure I did it since I played rugby for 12 years and had to do it as a cop, but in the end, I simply did what was "necessary." I just kind of faked it!
Now however, I am 47 years old with a history of heart disease running in my family! I have realized that while I love to lift weights, I already excel at that. What will ultimately keep me alive longer is more cardio! That has become my primary focus! That does not mean I no longer lift as I most certainly do, but I have forced myself to look at the bigger picture. I have forced myself to work more cardio into my routine.
Now I have experimented with ways to make the cardio routines more "fun," such as adding boxing and biking into the mix instead of simply hitting the treadmill, but the fact remains that I had to change my focus!
If you are truly interested in overall fitness, I suggest you look at what you love to do and what you hate, and put more emphasis on the latter! THAT is what will ultimately make you a more well rounded athlete!
So the other day I was talking to a client about exercise and the way it can make you feel not only better physically, but mentally as well. My point was that studies show that exercise is AS effective as a chemical anti-depressant. Simply put, when you exercise, you just FEEL better overall!
Still, I offered the importance that improving oneself is a solitary journey. The competition must be within yourself, not comparing yourself to others! For instance, I have been training for over 30 years now! It would be foolish to say that since someone cannot bench what I do, that they are weak or put them down. NO, it simply means that while I was once in the very position they are, I have just trained longer, stuck to my goals and continued to improve.
It then occurred to me that exercising is almost like a spiritual journey! We can look to others for support and seek knowledge from them, but in the end it is OUR own journey! We must do the things in our spiritual life that make us better people. No matter what your faith, the journey is within yourself. ARE you actually doing the things necessary to make you a better Christian, Muslim, or whatever your faith, or are you faking it?
The same applies within the personal journey that is self improvement? Are you strength training, but fueling your body with cupcakes and beer? Are you doing what is necessary to truly make yourself better, or kind of faking it?
In essence, this journey applies to everything in our lives? Are you actually working to get good grades in school, or are you going through the motions? At work, do you simply show up only to wait long enough to go home or do you actually take pride in the career you have chosen? To truly improve in life, we must work toward a goal! That goal should be to be better today than you were yesterday in every aspect of your life!
There will be ups and downs and missteps in all of our personal journeys. I suppose that is the result of being human, but all I can suggest is that each of us should try to make ourselves and the world as a whole a little better than it was yesterday!
So I have been thinking about some things relative to fitness trainers, but also to anyone that is currently training or considering it. I have touched on things before such as goal setting which are very important, but here are a few other things I feel are important to consider.
First, train according to your goals and abilities. Now this may sound simple, but many people fail to do so. If your goal is to gain muscle, then too much cardio can hinder results, just as lifting super heavy can also affect the performance of someone that is planning on running a marathon. Certainly some crossover is necessary, but set a plan designed for your goals and stick with it.
As to abilities, work around whatever issues you may have. For instance, if you have had a knee replaced, perhaps heavy squatting is not the best method of training for you. Arthritis may be something else that needs to be considered. My point is that even if you have to change things up a bit, that does not mean you can continue to progress. Just because Joe Bodybuilder in some magazine says something is the best exercise for you does not mean you have to include it in YOUR routine. Chose wisely to avoid injuries.
Now, I am a big fan of old school style training with barbells and dumbbells, pulleys and the like. Why? Because when you see people in the past and those who currently train this way, you will see people that get results. Simply put, this style of training can be very successful. Still, it is not the ONLY way to train.
Falling into the newest fad of hanging straps, super gizmos or whatever is on the market today may however NOT be your best option. Again train toward your goals. This however can be a tricky issue. While I love "old school" I am always open to new ideas that may help me or my clients improve. In fact, there are some great new things on the market that not only can help you get results, but keep training interesting. Staying interested keeps you involved and can make this lifestyle more enjoyable. If we enjoy something, we are much more likely to continue doing it!
So, when it comes to new things, I suggest evaluating the product or technique and see what it really offers. If all you are getting is a new, shinier repackaged device or technique that mimics something you already have or can do, stay away from it. It is simply sucking more money from your wallet. If however, you feel it will add value to your existing workouts and provide a new challenge, go for it!
These are simply a few things one should consider if you are involved in the fitness lifestyle on any level. These few simple things to consider can be very rewarding and make training fun again!
Train Hard and Safe,
One problem many people working out forget is the necessity for change. I mean if you do the same thing over and over, you will get the same old results.
One thing that is very effective is simply changing rep speed. I do a lot of this with my clients, and there is scientific research to back up this technique. A few years back, Nautilus did a study using a 4 second positive and 10 second negative rep speed. The end result was that having a muscle under tension for 70-90 seconds yielded better results than faster rep speeds. The problem however, is that working out this way can be painful causing people to want to "go back to the old way."
Still, varying speeds can be used. I often have my clients use a simple 4 second up and 4 second down speed. This is an effective change that can be thrown into the mix to keep the body guessing. Don't be shy about change. Using a six and two count is another great routine. Use your imagination! Change is what will get your body to grow.
My last comment is a warning. If you are using slower rep speeds, you will likely have to reduce a little of the weight or resistance you are using. The increased time will certainly make things seem harder.
Change things up to change your body!
So I have to admit, recently I have not been myself. For some time now, I have not felt 100%. Truth be told, it is simply age catching up to me.
Playing rugby for 12 years and being in law enforcement for 20 have caught up to me. My knees have been preventing me from training as hard as I am used to.
My workouts have been lackluster recently and it seems I lack the energy to train. So, I have really been taking a look at myself! Sometimes, it is hard to admit some simple facts.
The truth is that I am no longer in my 20's. In fact, I will be 47 in January. This is really something that has just dawned on me! I mean, in my head I am still in my 20's!
With this Godsmack, I have decided to revamp my workouts and in fact several other areas of my life. Not major changes, but I am going forward in life with a new realization. Yes, I am no longer 20!!!
I have been upping my cardio for my workouts, although I am making adjustments like adding the stationary bike into the mix when my knees start acting up. I am lifting less weight to save my joints, but simply doing more reps or using other techniques, such as time under tension, to keep the body working.
This has not been an easy transition. I have been fortunate over the years that God has blessed me with resilience, but the simple fact is that I do need to adjust things in my life.
While this change has been hard, it is comforting to know that I am still training hard and pushing not only my body, but my mind as well. Many people my age have given up on physical training long ago, and have failed to really live by challenging themselves.
Scuba diving has been my new passion and I have recently dove to a depth that was a personal record. I continue to try to help others through my fitness business and truly live to help others.
I am not perfect. I have made mistakes, but can only say life, in my eyes, is really about testing oneself. Life is short. I believe that a worthy life is about helping others, and at the same time pushing the limits! It is about enjoying all the gifts your God has given you, no matter what obstacles lie before you.
Change can be hard, but accepting it and moving forward may be what is necessary to continue to enjoy LIFE!
Every once in a while, I see something that amazes me. Sometimes it can be what the human spirit can overcome, or it may be something like the love a child has for it’s pet. The possibilities are endless. Sadly, there are also things that are negative or that remind me of how I feel society is transgressing. Yesterday, while watching the news, I was reminded of the latter.
The news reported that over 60% of Americans are now either overweight or obese. Additionally, it was reported that being in one of the categories makes your chance of being killed in a car accident 80% greater! Now, the news reported, there is a push to make cars bigger or to be designed to accommodate these larger bodies.
Now don’t get me wrong, safety is an issue and I don’t want to see anybody hurt, but aren’t we going about this the wrong way? What about responsibility? Society knows that being overweight can translate into so many health problems including heart disease and diabetes, yet we do nothing about it. Many just accept it as part of life, perhaps bolstered by the fact that their friends are overweight as well.
Now I know I am preaching to the choir as anyone reading this is probably trying to get fit, but education is the key. Pages dedicated to fitness, like the one your on, allow us to share ideas and support each other. THIS is what works. Recently Mayor Bloomberg of NYC forced a regulation limiting the size of soft drinks sold in restaurants. We cannot FORCE people into action. There is nothing to prevent someone from simply buying two of the smaller sized drinks. No, we must as a nation, start making better choices.
Fortunately, I do see some hope for the future. Many doctors are becoming more accepting of holistic or natural remedies as part of the cure rather than simply pushing a pill down your throat. Pills are not necessarily bad, but they shouldn’t be the only option. The media continues to talk about these topics as well, which just may help spread the word.
For know, I think all we can do is continue to work on ourselves, and be a beacon to others that we do not HAVE to get fat and out of shape. That living a healthy lifestyle can be fun and rewarding. This message may be most important to our youth who are becoming less and less active. If the current trend continues, we may actually simply kill ourselves from the inside.
Wherever you are in your fitness journey, you are an example to others. Use this simple fact as part of your motivation. Perhaps YOU are the one that will change someone else’s life and point them toward a better way of living. The fitness lifestyle is the path that you have chosen. Do your best to be an example for others as well, so that they too can truly ENJOY life!
In bodybuilding, being balanced is everything. The legs cannot over power the upper body, and the front cannot over power the back. True champions focus not only on their strengths, but their weaknesses. For those not planning to compete in bodybuilding however, balance is equally important.
For the majority of people that train, being pleasing to the eye is something we all want, but functionality is usually the primary goal. We all want to feel better, and being stronger helps us get through our days easier. One mistake so many make however, is failing to train ALL areas of the body. I used to train in gyms with guys I called kites! Kites are usually young men that focus on the “beach muscles” like arms and chest but forget the rest. They end up with huge upper bodies walking on pretzels! Sure they look good in jeans but with shorts, well…they look like kites! Little legs simply dangling at the end.
What often comes along with this is also the failure to train the back. I think it comes back to the old saying out of sight out of mind. In the mirror we simply forget that there is more to us! While this looks bad, it also creates mechanical problems with the body. Muscles are supposed to have an opposing set of muscles that counter each other. When one area is over developed, the body can end up suffering and start to damage itself.
Perhaps where this is most apparent is with men that bench heavy but do not train their backs enough. This is an easy thing to spot as they often walk with their shoulders pulled forward as the muscles in the back cannot counter the strength of the muscles in the chest. Over time, this can cause serious shoulder problems as they are pulled out of alignment.
This also occurs with the knee joint when the quads are worked more than the hamstrings. When this occurs, they knee can be compromised. In fact, it can occur throughout the body if we are not careful.
Looking great is awesome. It makes us feel wonderful and can give us a new found confidence in many other areas of our life. Still, balance is necessary to actually feel better and to function as our bodies were intended. When designing your workouts, take care to focus on balance BETWEEN the muscles. The result will be a machine built for the long haul!