Unless you’re a genetic freak, being “fit” requires work. However, “work” is a relative term. How much effort, time, and brain power are needed to accomplish your fitness goals? Moreover, what is required to KEEP your results for the rest of your natural life? The truth is, unless you want to reach your ultimate goal next month, or even 6 months from now, you don’t have to kill yourself to get the results you want. The key is consistency over time. Instilling fitness as a part of your routine from now until you’re gone is how you get, and keep “fit”. Proper HABITS are the foundation of consistency. Having proper structure, or a system to follow will provide direction toward your fitness goals. There are many components to health and fitness, but I believe that if you can nail down these five pillars, you can’t help but succeed.
Pillar 1: Nutrition
The single largest obstacle for most of our clients is nutrition, and for obvious reasons. It’s tough out there! Boat loads of processed foods flood our grocery stores, and food chains, creating convenience, but poor choices at every turn. One of the most glaring mistakes most make when changing up their diet, is they go completely cold turkey. They flip from eating the local drive through 5 days a week, dessert on a nightly basis, and cocktails on the weekend to eating boiled chicken breast and broccoli 7 days a week. It’s New Year’s Eve syndrome time and time again, and we all know the New Year’s Eve life crisis ends by Valentine’s day in about 98% of people. So how do you effectively change your nutrition for the long run? What’s the answer? Just as you have a system for fitness, it is very helpful to have a system for nutrition. Here is the key: Start with something, only one thing, really small and easy to stick with. For instance, no processed sugar for 30 days. For people with a sweet tooth, this simple change combined with regular exercise (3-4 workouts/week) over the course of a month can create tremendous initial change! Once you have kicked the sugar habit, shoot for another, such as eating a source of lean protein with every meal, or never eating to the point of being stuffed, or eating fresh produce (mostly vegetables) with every meal, or drinking a gallon of water every day. Small, manageable habits that you focus on one at a time will enable you to make lasting change in your nutrition. The RED Zone at Club USA offers nutrition coaching through the highly respected Precision Nutrition program to all of its members. A program like this, that offers clear, concise recommendations, and direction will ensure you are headed in the right direction, at the right pace.
Pillar 2: Cardio Training
In today’s fitness world, many have placed steady state cardio on the back burner. Where the gold standard for weight loss and conditioning used to be steady state cardio, high intensity workouts are now all the rave. However, we believe that there should still be an element of steady state cardio (HR between 55-70% max for 20-60 minutes) in your weekly routine. Our program thrives on balance. Balance in your diet, balance inside and outside the gym, and balance in training your energy systems. Long steady cardio taps into your body’s oxidative energy system. If you had to run 5-10 miles, could you do it? Training this system will ensure that you could. Also, steady state cardio once a week is a welcome feeling to a body that has been battered into submission during your last three high intensity and strength training bouts. Living in the great state of Colorado, We encourage members to keep away from treadmills and hit the trails. If you go out for a 3-5 mile hike, hop on the mountain bike, or hit the Nordic ski center in the winter, there are plenty of ways to tap into your oxidative system and have a good time doing it!
Pillar 3: High intensity Training
As previously defined, high intensity interval training or HIIT training is the new king of fat busting workouts. A massive number of calories can be burned in a relatively short period of time, leaving the body in a state of oxygen depletion that requires extra energy to restore those levels (known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC), resulting in excess calorie burn for up to 24 hours (the afterburn effect). This is accomplished by intense bouts of exercise followed by short rest periods over a 15-30-minute period with HR levels bouncing between 75-95% of max HR. Generally, 2-3 of these workouts/week will generate tremendous results. HIIT training is designed to train all three of your energy systems. ATP-PCr- short burst/power, Glycolytic- intermediate (30-90 seconds), along with your Oxidative system will all be utilized during a good HIIT bout. If HIIT training isn’t part of your current routine, look into it ASAP! *Note- Prior to entering into any HIIT program, consult your doctor if you have any health concerns.
Pillar 4: Strength Training
One thing that many people are afraid of is gaining weight through lifting when they are trying to lose weight. However, there is such a thing as positive weight gain when trying to lose fat. Resistance training is absolutely essential when it comes to body transformation. Building, and maintaining a good amount of lean muscle mass ensures that your metabolism is operating at a healthy clip. The higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolism. Some estimates are that for every pound of muscle mass gain, your resting metabolic rate increases 30-50 calories! Boost that ATP-PCr energy system during these workouts. 10-15 seconds of heavy resistance with 2-3 minutes of recovery time between sets of the same muscle group. Strength training 1-2 times per week with anywhere from 4-12 reps and 2-5 sets will create variation in your workouts and will disable your body from adapting, and plateauing.
Pillar 5: Rest and Recovery
For many attempting to aggressively lose weight, “rest” is perhaps the vilest four-letter word in their vocabulary. The fact of the matter is, HIIT training and strength training bouts take a toll on your body. Your musculoskeletal system is bombarded with millions of tiny micro tears from the stress they have been under. Without giving your body a chance to repair, and create new tissue, these tiny tears can evolve into nagging chronic injuries such as shin splints, or stress fractures. A constant battery of your body over time can lead to over training which leads to a decrease in performance, hormonal imbalances, a depleted immune system, and disrupted sleep patterns. Working rest days into your program will ensure that your body will properly recover, enabling you to continue training at a high level week after week, month after month. Remember, you are in this thing for the long run. Be sure to get those rest days!
Implementation of these five pillars of fitness will act as a foundation that will support continued growth in your fitness and health for the rest of your life!
Josh Hemann, BS, CSCS, PES, Pn1