With such an enormous amount of information available on diet and exercise it can be a daunting prospect to wade through it all and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Much of the information is complex, contradictory and, sadly, sometimes just plain wrong! With those points in mind, here are top tips for leading a happy and healthy fitness life. If you do your best to follow these tips, you will be well on the way to developing high levels of fitness and health and you’ll look great too!
1. Progressive overload is the key to fitness progress. If you do the same workouts at the same level of intensity day after day and week after week your fitness levels will stagnate. Strive to make your workouts more challenging on a week by week basis and your fitness levels will improve.
2. Focus on performance. Athletes look amazing not because they train for appearance but because they train for performance. Set yourself performance-related goals such as running faster or further or becoming stronger and your body will function better AND look better. In nature and architecture, form always follows function and your body is no different.
3. Make time for stretching. Sitting down all day can make your muscles tight. A couple of minutes stretching a few times a week will not remedy this situation. So, make a conscious effort to regain your lost, youthful flexibility by stretching as often as you can. You will ache less, move better and also make your body more injury resistant.
Make time to stretch or make time to be injured!
4. Take it easy from time to time. While hard training is essential if you want to see significant improvements in your fitness levels, you also need to plan periods of rest and recovery. Going hell for leather all the time is likely to result in burnout, injury and enforced periods off training. Enjoy an easy “back off” week once every six to eight weeks. Reduce volume and intensity and then come back fresh, strong and energised. In sports training, this is called periodisation and is one of the reasons that many athletes continue to get better and better season after season. Athletes get to enjoy periodic breaks called 50 percent weeks where they work with half the volume and half the intensity of their usual training weeks. Ironically, despite training less, they always come back after a 50 percent week feeling fresher and also much stronger. This allows them to raise their performance in the next training cycle.
5. Don’t just do what you are good at. Most of us have exercises or training methods that we enjoy and the reason we enjoy them is probably because we are good at them. The exercises we should be doing are the ones we are less proficient at because this shows that there are weaknesses that need addressing. Hate squats? Maybe it’s because your technique is poor or you have weak legs. Hate running? Maybe you are overweight and running hurts your knees. Don’t enjoy stretching? It’s most likely because you find it painful or hard. Redress the balance by doing some exercises you don’t enjoy – chances are they are the ones you need to do!