At 35 years , I currently have 23% body fat, nowhere close to my original 12 % from a few years ago.
But I actually feel better, fitter and more functional than ever before.
As a coach I feel workouts need to be part of an ongoing process of learning and adapting to your body’s ever-changing needs. Unfortunately, most workout programs are based on bodybuilding (sculpting) and designed solely to help you look better.
Workouts Are Not About Losing Weight
From a training perspective, I believe workouts which help you gain flexibility and simultaneously add power ( the ability to generate force behind your movements) are what you should be aiming for.
The fitness landscape is divided into multiple fractions. From runners, strength aficionados, yoga monks , cross fitters and those obsessed with nutrition. I see them all as equals, but often I find one being pitted against the other.
Clients who come to me have either never worked out before, or have been fitness fanatics - but both sets come with devastating hip, back and shoulder problems. The reason is lack of understanding of the body’s ability to cope. In whatever form of training plan you choose, you have to incorporate your body’s suspension system, without which you can’t withstand the demands of daily life.
Workouts and programs that help build that strong suspension system not only avoid long term health problems, but they also help improve physical performance, along with quality of life. This manner of training also helps develop core stability.
Take a hard look at your training and see if you are making yourself more flexible, balanced and more powerful. Notice I am saying ( powerful) not stronger.
Most people hit the gym looking for quick fixes. In their pursuit to good good, they over commit. They may lose a few kilos or inches, but they fail to create a body that’s powerful and resistant to injury.
Building a Smarter Body
Traditional training, from strength, to cardio and stretching, doesn’t begin to address the body’s need for joint support, endurance and new challenges. You can actually train to be more explosive, flexible, elastic and functional in the same amount of time.
Movement starts from the very center of our body - the core area of the torso. Take the case of amputees. They can still function and have fulfilling lives because their core remains intact.
In your training, add elements of core, hip and shoulder stability as they give us a center axis from which we move.
A Perfect Posture
Shoulder Blades Pulled Back - tummy drawn up and in - ears in line with shoulder - hips in line with knees - knees in line with ankles.
This posture will help you transfer better energy through your body and improve your efficiency, causing less wear and tear.
Select exercises from these units and add them into your plan:
- Movement Prep - An active warm-up routine replacing traditional pre-exercise stretching or slow cardio. This can include foam rolling , dynamic stretch routines.
- Prehab- Proactive approach to help reduce imbalances. Add hip, core and shoulder stability drills on a physio ball. This may include stabiliser exercises to aide spinal extension.
- Strength - Add training body movements for increased power, stability and mobility.
- Energy System Conditioning - Departure from traditional cardio work by adding powerful bursts of energy - This is where HIIT proves greater for fat loss, compared to slow volume cardio work.
- Regeneration - Low intensity activity to improve recovery. What you supplement your training with is important - Play a sport , walk a pet , ride a bike , water your plants. Basically, ditch the couch.
Now You Are Ready...
All your workouts should use the human body's 6 Essential Movement Patterns:
- Hip Hinge
Whatever human activity you can think of, it can be added into one of the categories above.
Climbing stairs goes into the Lunge category.
Getting up and out off a chair goes into the Squat category.
Picking up a box from the floor goes into the Hip Hinge category.
However, the true beauty of these 6 movement patterns is that each one uses hundreds of muscles in one go.
Just remember, a good squat without a kettlebell is worth a lot more than a badly performed squat holding one.
(Jeevan Aujla loves his coffee and stoic philosophy. He has challenged his decades old beliefs on fitness while studying sport & exercise science for his master's. He is currently enjoying the nuances of running an early stage start up called Decode Strength+Conditioning . Follow him on insta @decode_vasantvihar)
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