The “Perfect” Fitness Program
Written by: CFA Owner, Justin Levine
Is there such a thing? The fitness world is loaded with various programs and diverse philosophies. Who should you believe? It seems that everything we read can completely contradict itself. Well, I am here to tell you, do not get too confused. Today, I am going to give you principles to create a well-rounded program. These are my own personal theories that I have constructed through years of education and being in the trenches of training people. They are not end all be all rules that when broken, the fitness police will come looking for you. But, if you are looking for a functionally sound body that can move well, be athletic and perform at high levels, then do your best to adhere to these principles.
- Nutrition balance. Let’s start with food. This area can be the most difficult for people to follow. With the abundance of diets and weight loss programs, it seems that everywhere you look there is something new that promises results. Let’s cut out the nonsense and highlight the fact that nutrition is all about balance. It’s not about one magical supplement or the restriction of a nutrient. It’s about a consistent game plan. The best diet in the world is the one that you can follow and sustain over long periods. If you have specific restrictions or allergens to food, you need to set up an appointment with a registered dietician to assist your lifestyle. But for most people, the majority of foods should come from vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and heart healthy fats. Alcohol, sweets, bad fats and processed foods should be consumed in moderation. When over consumed, these foods can cause weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. You do not have to eat perfect 100% of the time. If you are looking for a result, you need periods throughout the year where you are dialed in and focused on eating to support your goals. Focus on consistency and balance and you will be more successful with your nutrition.
- Be a smart exerciser. The buzzword in the fitness world is “functional training”. Functional is a term that means, training with purpose. But many “functional” exercises are being bastardized, thus making them nonfunctional. Just because you get sore and tired from a particular movement, doesn’t mean the exercise was functional. Please do not equate haphazard training, puking, dizziness, blisters and unusual soreness to smart and functional training. There is a fine line of pushing yourself and going past your limits every workout. The idea is to know where that line is so you can manage your workloads accordingly. Pushing beyond your fitness limits everyday will lead to overtraining and injury. Know your body, train smart and your results will soar.
- Isolation is the past. Isolation exercises like leg extensions, leg curls, biceps curls, and triceps extensions, etc. are in the past. I am not saying never to do them again but making them the majority of your workout is inefficient and unproductive. The human body does not work in isolation. It’s a chain. And everything we do in life from picking up the laundry basket to mowing the lawn to hitting the golf ball requires total body connection. This mindset should be continued in the gym. Perform workouts that engage the entire body. Athletic drills like lateral shuffles, skipping, bounding and medicine ball slams improve power development. Strength training exercises like single leg deadlifts, single leg squats, pull-ups, push-ups, farmer carries and crawling teach the body to work together, not in isolation. Three to five times a week, perform total body workouts that include strength and conditioning components. This philosophy will give you more results, a stronger overall body and keep you less injured.
- Recover and rebuild. What you do in the gym matters. How you eat matters. But how you recover ultimately dictates the results you aspire to achieve. Many people spin their tires because all they do is work hard without attention to their recovery habits. It’s the missing link to many fitness programs. Sleep, tissue work and proper nutrition and hydration can speed recovery in between workouts. Every 3-4 weeks, plan an active recovery week where you drop intensity and volume in your workouts. And every 9th or 10th week, take a few days in a row completely off. I am telling you, paying attention to recovery and utilizing these few strategies will keep you performing at high levels and training for a long time.