This article brings our four-part series of ‘Train Better, Train Smarter’ to a conclusion. The Grand Finale if you will. I had a thoroughly enjoyable few weeks discussing different areas of training. As a brief reminder or in case you missed out - we went mental early on by touching on the psychological side of reaching your goals. We know that having a reason or a ‘why’ behind our training is very helpful in giving us a focus or drive that can be so powerful. This was followed up by getting physical, where we challenged you to find out if you could complete basic bodyweight movements such as a pull up. Humbling indeed. No matter who you are, a strong foundation is a necessity. Without it, we are limiting our potential. Last week we got technical when we stressed the importance of efficient movement, and how making small tweaks can help you get the most from your efforts. The great thing about training is we will always have many areas that require work. This is most certainly a positive, otherwise things would get boring very quickly. Right, now that our recap is out of the way - it’s time to talk tactics! How can we make ‘fitness’, a part of your life?
Firstly, regardless of what Instagram or any other forum is telling you - perfection is unattainable. Nobody’s life runs completely smoothly and we can always improve. All too often, a ‘lack of motivation’ to train, is an excuse that is heard when working in and around a gym environment. It makes me shiver. Now, once again I stress, if you are happy out with your current routine and feeling good, keep on going. However, if you have been known to use such excuses, feel sluggish or find yourself complaining a little bit too much, lend me your ears. We can’t rely on motivation alone. It’s too temporary. We have all been lying in bed on a Sunday night with plans to change the world the following morning, yet when the alarm rings we decide to rain check. This is a mindset that can quickly become a habit. A habit to do nothing, which may result in a downward spiral. Remember, habits don’t die, they are overpowered.
Training can be made part of our daily routine. Something that just won’t be questioned, like having dinner, or taking a shower. This doesn’t mean an hour in the gym or a long run is required everyday. Training can mean anything that will help you improve in the slightest way, either mentally, physically or both. It could mean walking to or from work or perhaps doing 10 minutes of stretching while you watch Netflix. Another reminder, something is always better than nothing. In order to make training a mainstay in your life why not put a purpose on it. Get tactical. What does your life require of you right at this moment? Have your children that love kicking a ball around but you feel you don’t have the energy? Maybe you play 5-a-side once a week and struggle to keep up with the pace. Does your job require you to carry heavy objects or be on your feet a lot? Training regularly can assist you in doing what your job requires of you better! Your training can be made enjoyable knowing it’s going to serve you elsewhere. By making small additions to your daily routine you can get the most from the least. Marginal gains!
Although we are spoiled for choice nowadays with an abundance of gyms and classes of all sorts available to us wherever we look, training doesn’t mean you have to use them. Although they serve a great purpose, maybe you don’t like the gym. Blaring music, tight areas filled to the brim with enthusiasts making an array of strange sounds notifying us they are working harder than you, may not be the most welcoming! The gym isn’t a necessity every day, no way.
“Progress equals happiness”. A quote nicked from author and entrepreneur Tony Robbins. He stresses that you will become unhappy if you stop growing. If we are moving towards what we want to achieve, there is a sense of purpose present that is tough to rival. The feeling of overcoming a challenge no matter how big or small, keeps that fire burning in each one of us. That feeling will never get old. In terms of health and wellness, this could mean something as minute as taking the stairs when you can, or parking further from your destination. While setting up and overcoming small challenges can be applied to all areas of life, your training can be something that provides you with this feeling of progression more often than you realise. If not daily, definitely weekly! Examples include running farther or ‘feeling’ less stiff. Recognise this and it will change your life. Awareness is key!
Other options to provide a purpose for your training could include signing up for an event of some sort. With the summer looming, why not commit to something you can aim for? There are many styles of fun adventure races, 5KM runs, cycles and hikes happening all over the country that may light the fuse for you. Perhaps a group of friends will join you, not only making the process even more enjoyable but also you shall have someone to hold you accountable.
Remember, by doing what you can, with what you have, wherever you are, can help you become healthier and happier! Let's get moving!
You can check out the balls.ie article here.
‘It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it’ - John Wooden
It turns out Mr. Wooden was not referring to anything fitness related when he said this, however it could certainly be applied.
In last week’s article, I mentioned how we can struggle with basic bodyweight movements. To elaborate on that point, here are a couple of scenarios that you may find relatable.
Scenario A; You’re walking through the gym, minding your own business when you can’t help but notice what seems to be someone suffering some sort of fit…hanging off the pull up bar, shaking like a leaf, holding on for dear life. The victims head cocked back with their chin pointing north to the ceiling, en route to completing their version of a pull up. Not a rare sight.
Scenario B: How about this…you find yourself caught amidst the carnage of a ‘HIT’ class. 5 euro, pay as you go, time to go ballistic. Elbows, knees and torsos flying everywhere. You know the scene, an ‘instructor’ jacked up on Red Bull, blaring tunes that should be in a museum, roaring at the top of their lungs to “go hard or go home”. Send help. If you haven’t been stuck in a sweatbox like this, perhaps you’ve watched a class of similar description, from a safe distance.
If enjoyment to you means going to the gym with a goal of pulling yourself over the bar however you can or if you do take HIT classes 3 times a week with the priority being ‘to sweat’, that is A-OK, continue! Most people however, I am assuming would like to get the best results for their efforts! If you are wondering why you may not be making progress or perhaps you have constant niggling aches and pains, please read on.
Is the ‘fitness’ industry missing the point? The success of a session seems to depend on how ‘messed up’ one is upon completion or how much sweat is pouring off them. This is an issue. Training to me, is about enjoyment and improvement.
Noted; we all have different goals as to why we exercise. Examples include wanting to build strength, improve our endurance, stress relief or lose weight. Whatever you aim to get from your session, efficiency of movement can only help you get there.
Strength cannot be built on dysfunction. Movement quality is the foundation upon which all other physical attributes are built. You see, our bodies can be a bit lazy. World renowned physical therapist Shirley Sarhmann, puts it by saying, “the body will take the path of least resistance”; especially true when you’re a bit tired. So when your half way through your workout and sh*t is really about to hit the fan, your body may feel it’s more metabolically efficient for your knees to kiss each other when you’re coming out of your hundredth squat or let your elbows flair out wide while you peel yourself up off the floor as you complete another burpee. Of course, you may get away with this for a while, however, over time you are putting yourself in the danger zone. Sooner or later, session by session, as stress accumulates you’ll be hampered by injury. Remember, non-contact injuries are 100% preventable!
Some reasons for movement restrictions include mobility issues (ankles and hips are common culprits), poor motor control or just a lack of awareness, which is something we all suffer from time to time. The good news is these can all be improved relatively easily with an extra bit of care and effort, being put into wherever you may be limited. If you are unsure, ask a coach in your gym where it may be your going wrong. Squats and lunges are technical movements. Small tweaks make a big difference. It can only help you!
This is why there needs to be a focus on mobility. Life as we know it has us stuck in offices hunched over at desks and in the car for many hours throughout the week. On a very basic level, over time our posture is affected negatively, our breathing is compromised and that is before we even get to training! By adding in simple mobility drills each day, you could improve your health hugely. Areas to focus on include your upper back, hips and ankles. Not only will you decrease the risk of injury, you will delay the onset of fatigue as you save energy through correct movement patterns. As you improve your mobility you’ll have access to muscles which may have been restricted for quite a while! This also will only be of benefit to you.
The fundamental movement patterns have to be nailed down. If you are unable to squat without your chest dropping, complete a pull up without shrugging your traps to your ears or run without getting back pain, there are movement deficiencies that need to be tended to. ‘It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it!’ Although this has been a very brief article on the importance of movement quality, I hope it has hit home. Take pride in how you move and remain consistent. As always, please do reach out if you feel you need some assistance. I’d be delighted to help.
Founder & CEO of Be Ready Training | Strength & Conditioning Coach