When it comes to fitness, everybody seems to have an opinion. Some say that one has to train with weights, lifting ever heavier and heavier weights while others seem to think that the ability to pick up heavy stuff is a way for nature to compensate for the lacking intellect of the bulkiest among us and that your training-time is far better-spent training for and competing in cycling or running races… mmm I’m not so sure. Some others may say that it is best to train the mind and the body with Yoga or Pilates to strengthen the mind-body connection, or whatever the yuppie crowd is into nowadays. Then there are the CrossFit crews that will argue that they’re getting the best of both worlds. Testing themselves in their all be it, incredibly challenging, but still, made-up competitions claiming the real world functionality of their approach to be superior.
While all of these are very good ways to get fit there is also another way for you to become stronger and more athletic, able to go for a run if the mood takes you and not feel like you’re going to drop dead at any moment and also look like you could be one of those fitness people you see on Instagram and magazine covers. You could even learn impressive physical skills in half the time with no equipment required and with such convenience that all excuses not to workout will disappear like biltong at the rugby. Well, you can get all that and more by learning to train with your own bodyweight.
With nothing more than a basic understanding of how to perform a few simple movements and how to put them together in a workout you can build the foundational strength, coordination, flexibility and endurance to become strong enough to eventually do stuff like one-hand push-ups, handstands and any kind of variation of a pull-up that might’ve seen on youtube. There is no telling what potential lays within you. When you commit to training hard, smart and consistently you would not need to get ready for a challenge because you will be ready, always.
So here’s how to go about it.
Form a habit. You become good at the things you do most often. If you complain a lot and make excuses for all the things you don’t have then you will always be able to find a reason for not achieving your fitness goals. Break that habit and replace it with a new one. Commit to the new habit of working out regularly, preferably at a regular time of the day on regular days. Once you have got the habit locked in you’ll find that you don’t have to muster all your willpower to get off your butt and train. You’ll get up to train almost as if you’re on autopilot and you’ll achieve the consistency that is needed. In fact, consistency is the silver bullet when it comes to fitness as it is in most life goals. If you consistently form the habits that fit people have, you will be able to do what fit people do and look like fit people do.
Focus on form. This is crucial. You are far better off with doing fewer repetitions of any given exercise with perfect form than doing double the amount of reps with poor form. With poor form, your muscles and joints don’t align the way they should and the muscles that support the major muscles through initiating and stabilizing the movement can’t perform properly, which is sure to lead to injury. Also, you won’t be able to work the desired muscles correctly which means you won’t achieve the results you are looking for. Here’s a tip- make practicing good, stable support exercises part of your warm-up routine. There’s a video at the bottom of the article that shows you what I mean.
Dial in your diet. Actually, you should do this even if you’re undecided on the whole working out thing at this point. It is a fact that modern people eat way, way, way too much and too much of the stuff we know is bad for us. Some estimates seem to indicate that up to 65% of all the food stacked on the shelves of your favourite grocery store contains added sugar and as much as 40% of everything that you buy there couldn’t really be considered food when you think of food a fuel for your body that is supposed to nourish you and sustain or improve your health.
Now I know that taking on a meal plan is really difficult and could be quite restrictive and while it is true that this is what fit people do, you don’t have to start there. If you find that you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of pre-prepared chicken breast, broccoli and lentils stacked up in containers in your fridge, then try these simple tweaks first.
- Eat more produce. It’s recommended that we eat 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. But that is a minimum recommendation. The more plant stuffs you eat the more nutrients and phytonutrients you get in, which improves your overall health and supports your fitness goals. Also, if you think about it, the more good stuff you eat the less room there’ll be on your plate for the bad stuff.
- Dish up once and pack the leftovers for lunch. It is an undisputed fact that food is more readily available today than it has ever been in our history. Big industry and the marketing machines that drive it is forever coming up with new ideas for convincing us that we need to eat more of this and that by making it tastier and putting it in more enticing wrappers. The truth is that we simply do not need to eat that much. A normal dinner plate filled to half with veggies or salad and the other half equally deviled between a good carbohydrate like rice or sweet potato and a protein like fish or meat can easily bring you 400 calories, which is plenty. So cook generously and eat only what you need then pack the rest in your lunch box for a later meal that you may not have time to prepare. That way you build some consistency in your daily eating habits.
- Eat in. You already now to eat more fresh food, meat that is not too fatty and to reduce the amount of grain-based foods like bread, pasta and other doughy stuff like pizza. Making your food at home is a good way to control what you eat.
- Reduce the sweet stuff. Sweets and treats really are like kryptonite to your plans for getting fit. It has an addictive control over most of us but you must try your best to avoid it. If you think you may have difficulty here, try to find alternatives for sugary sodas and cookies, like unsweetened flavored water and nut or raisins. It shouldn’t be too hard to find an alternative snack that you love to eat.
So if you haven’t yet figured out what the secret is to this whole fitness-thing, let me spell it out. C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y. Yes, it really is that simple. The power of consistency is mind-blowing. It starts when you make small sustainable improvements. When you lock-in one positive change in your diet, training-consistency or workout intensity in such a way that you never let it slip, then you refocus and adjust to lock-in the next level of improvements. Then you are on the path to achieving your goals, one step at a time.
Now that you know everything you need to know, there’s just one thing left for you to do and that is to get started. The albiefit.com website is a great place to start. There you can view a range of workout tutorial videos and get a lot more information to help you get your fitness goals on track.
I can also register for the I’ll Be Fit, body transformation challenge.