Trends in the industry of fitness come and go, tangents are explored every few years, but the idealized goals of looking “good”, feeling “great” and being “awesome” remain; even if their interpretations are highly personalized. To be clear (and in doing so useful to you) I am going precisely define those goals, and tier them by degree of achievement. Then we will define a simple, sustainable program to achieve them…and maintain them.
Looking Good: A body-fat % of 6 to 12 for men, 16 to 22 for women. Where in that range is your choice, based on what degree of leanness you prefer, and how diligent in your lifestyle you are willing to live. In addition, a degree of muscular development that implies sexual attractiveness, health, and viable fertility. (I know, I could have just said “hawt).
Feeling Good: Pain free, full range movement that minimizes arthritic decay, and maximizes balance and coordination. Simply put, you don’t hurt, and can perform movement without becoming hurt. A good measure of pain free full range movement is found in the Functional Movement Screen. A score of 14, with no differences left or right, is cited by Gray Cook at a good base standard.
Being Awesome: An acceptable standard of athletic prowess, defined first by your ability to move with power, agility, and stamina. Secondarily, by your ability to move other things with power, agility, and stamina. The capacity to perform pushups, squats, pull-ups, sprints, & crawling all point to a solid base of sustainable functional ability.
The program to reach these goals…and just as importantly, maintain them throughout your life, is not as complicated or “brand name” dependent as you have been led to believe.
1. Nutrition: A zone diet 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein works. In addition, Prioritizing gluten free, and certified organic foods will all serve to optimize hormone function, which opens the door to permanent weight loss (fat burning.) Clean, structured water is also a great advantage as well, and in my opinion a quality water filter and structuring device will be invaluable. The good news is that if you can follow the rules 5 days a week, you can loosen them on the weekends and still achieve your results.
2. Exercise: 2 to 4 time a week, no more than 4 hours total time. Strength work covering pressing and pulling with the arms, squatting with the legs, picking up stuff from the floor, and specific work for your “abs”and “functional cardio” that mimics real life demands. Short sprints, agility ladders, kettle bell swings…these develop real world stamina you can use…far superior to “cardio machines”, in the same way free weights are superior to weight machines.
Everyone can and should get strong enough to do full 5 pushups, squats with half your bodyweight, and 1 frickin pull-up. Along with the strength to pick up your own bodyweight from the floor (a bodyweight dead-lift) run skillfully and nimbly thru an agility ladder, and do a spiderman crawl for 20 yards. Achieve these standards and you are functionally fit. No, you will not be a professional athlete, but you will be good enough to do what you need to do. That is the first goal.
3.Fascial smoothing and corrective exercises for pain free movement. This is the missing link in the vast majority of fitness programs. Focusing on getting “yoked” or “hawt” as well as getting “bigger/faster/stronger” often develops a history of injuries that ultimately curtails one’s “hotness” and “awesomeness”. Fascial smoothing is like brushing and flossing for your muscles and joints, and you do it for the same reasons that you brush and floss your teeth. This is the real key to sustainability, and the first thing you do in your routine. Your functional performance won’t be better than your bio-mechanics. Get that pain free movement before you add weight to it.
1 arm pushup, 1 leg squat, double body weight deadilft, and the stamina and resilience to run 10 40 yard dashes. Ok, don’t ranting for now.