I think it’s important to put our workouts in perspective every once in a while; it can at times be easy to lose sight of some basic fitness ‘rules’ that need to be in place to see progress on a consistent basis. For most things in life – whether it’s work, your relationships, or your fitness program – most of your results come from a small amount of your efforts. It’s the Paretto Principle or the 80/20 rule: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So let’s apply this to your fitness program; here are (in my opinion) elements that get you the most ‘bang for your buck’, so to speak:
1. Eating properly
I realize this is a very broad statement The thing is, there are so many opinions floating around of what the ‘right’ way to eat should be. Eating right is at least 60-70% of the equation, though – no matter if your goal is to lose body fat, gain muscle, or both. I posted a while back about some basic diet tips if you’d like some specific guidelines.
2. Incorporating some kind of resistance training into your program
Again, a very general statement – but also very true! You need to include resistance training in your program in some form to significantly change your body composition. I realize training philosophies are going to vary a lot – and I’ll be the first to say that there’s no ‘best’ way to train to get results – in fact, I think that any well-designed training program will work for a while (until you adapt, which also means that anything will stop working after a while). I’ll direct you to a simple training program I wrote a while back if you need a basic template: The Get In Shape for 2009 Workout
3. Train your heart
I hate using the term ‘cardio‘ almost as much as I hate doing it There are so many ways to get your cardio in – it definitely doesn’t have to include plugging away on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym. Plus, ‘steady-state’ cardio – low intensity, long duration – is very quickly falling out of favor. Intervals are the way to go for almost everyone – read my post on interval vs. steady state cardio for a more detailed explanation.
4. Be consistent and be intense
You have to work out regularly to get results! Here’s a hypothetical situation: You decide it’s time to really get serious about getting in shape. You hit the gym five or six times a week for a few weeks, and you’re feeling better – you may or may not be making progress (likely because you’re not following each of these five components). After about a month or so, you get bored, you get frustrated, life gets in the way – whatever the reason is, your enthusiasm fades and you end up working out once or twice a week for the following month, only to see the progress you’ve made over the last month slip away. This is just a hypothetical situation, of course; it’s never happened to you, right?
Much better to work out four or five times a week for 30 to 45 minutes and be able to stick with the plan on an ongoing basis. In addition to being consistent, you also have to be reasonably intense. You don’t have to run around the gym like a manic or start Crossfitting (wait for the video to load – it’s well worth it) but you do need to work reasonably hard. Go to the gym with a purpose, get after it, and get out!
5. Pick exercise that you enjoy
Last but not least – you have to like what you’re doing for exercise – like we just talked about, being consistent over the long run is one of the most important factors in determining your success. So if you don’t like what you’re doing – at least a little – you don’t have a chance of sticking with it for long. Figure out what floats your boat – maybe it’s going to the gym, maybe it’s running outside, maybe it’s swinging kettlebells – siimply get together a plan for yourself that’s well thought out, exercise with a reasonable intensity, and get moving towards your goals!
Those are, in my mind, the top five components of a sound fitness program. What are your thoughts?
Would you like a little more guidance with your fitness program? Need some motivation in reaching your fitness goals? Please visit www.forestvancetraining.com to get involved in personal or group training with Forest Vance, M.S., C.P.T., RKC.