Updated: Jan 15, 2019
The health and fitness industry has been peddling one gimmick after the other, and with the marketing drives and constant repackaging of trends, there seems to be no end in sight.
There are some wildly inappropriate and unreasonable training and dieting methods that have resulted in some extreme perspectives on fitness and nutrition.
This has a major impact on the way people think about health and fitness, feel about themselves and the actions they choose to take.
The public perception can be interesting
Fitness? = Throwing up, no pain no gain, train like a bodybuilder, professional athlete or marine.
Fat loss? = Starvation.
Training programs should seamlessly fit into and support our lives.
Although there is a lot to learn from the athletic, military and bodybuilding worlds, it's important to understand that they are professional people, with specific performance goals.
It is their job to train and recover consistently and go out there and perform.
Most of us cannot afford the time that professionals set aside for strength and conditioning training, recovery, and skills development. With our own daily responsibilities in mind, training needs to fit into our lives seamlessly and support us for the long haul.
Health and fitness goals
Fitness goals and health goals are different.
Athletes train so that the body will function efficiently to perform their chosen sport, their primary interest is the impact on their performance goals.
Professional performance is often removed from health. For instance, it is not necessarily healthy to play 90 minutes of rugby against the All Blacks.
Respected strength coach Dan John often talks about the need to determine if our goals are fitness or health goals.
If the goal is a fitness goal, the question should be fit for what?
Fit to ___________. (Play ball with the kids, move gracefully through life, do my karate grading, prepare for the rugby season, stay in the game for as long as possible).
Year in year out
What many of the trend-setting programs fail to deliver on is sensibleness.
Shifting the general perspective of health and fitness is no small thing with the extent of the media and business drivers of the industry.
It is important to know that there are efficient, effective and sustainable paths to lifelong fitness that result in an enjoyable and active lifestyle.
The secret to a good fitness program is keeping it simple and sensible. This is not as sexy as some instant packaged 'cookie cut' programs. What's going to be important in the long run is that it works and does not leave you broken.
We seem to become less active as we age, and motivation seems to be an issue.
Figuring out how to turn up consistently may be the trick. Reading Twyla Tharpe's "The Creative Habit" gets you thinking about this and offers some strategies if consequences are not enough to motivate you.
For lifelong fitness address your needs first. Manage muscular imbalances and address lean muscle mass and joint mobility. Do the fundamental human movements as they are fundamental and keep an eye on the goal.
For lifelong fitness most of the work should be the fundamental human movements, pushes, pulls, squats, hip hinges and loaded carries, along with joint mobility. This is the minimalist approach, this is the 80/20 approach, this is the mastery approach and this is how you stay on the path. This approach helps eliminate the noise from the health and fitness industry and the fundamental movements are the movements worth mastering, because they are fundamental.
Stay on the path with a sensible, reasonable and repeatable program.
Quick fix methods or new trendy programs are often inappropriate or unsustainable and because of this, there seems to be a tendency to move from one extreme to the opposite extreme.
You end up spending energy swinging from one to the other. For example, from an inactive lifestyle to an extreme workout program, resulting in burnout, returning to a sedentary lifestyle again. Until the next repackaged trendy solution and the cycle is repeated.
Staying on a sensible, reasonable and repeatable path is always the most efficient way from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be).
Extreme methods on either side of the pendulum, such as extreme diets and binge eating, will ultimately result in health issues and/or injuries.
Stay on the path
Sensible, reasonable and repeatable does not mean being in a static position.
We should move and adjust appropriately to our needs and progressions while keeping an eye on the goal.
High-intensity workouts can be great when applied appropriately and sensibly, but not recommended for longer periods of times. The middle path is where the magic happens year on year.
Even though a program may show short term benefits, long periods of extreme stress will only result in over-training, injuries and motivation issues. "Crazy" fitness programs may be tempting, but if lifelong fitness is the goal then not such a good idea.
Before engaging in a program ask yourself - does it address your needs, and could you do this year in year out?
If its important do it every day
If the aim is not just long life but good life, then fundamental human movements are fundamental.
Calisthenics (bodyweight training) means beautiful movement.
Strive for graceful movement, think mastery.
As a coach, I pattern the movement first then build up the repetitions and only then consider increasing the load. If you can't perform the movement slowly, under load, you have no business doing it fast.
I address needs while keeping an eye on my goal. Assessments and the Janda muscles will tell me what is needed.
I incorporate the movements in strength, cardio and restorative training days and build cardio and mobility work into the resistance training workouts.
For athletes and those who want to prolong their careers or stay in the game for as long as possible, do the sport, address your needs, do the fundamental human movements and keep an eye on the goal.
Just because you can doesn't mean you should!
Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. The content on this website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.