I discussed in my last email how I was focused on doing 1 fitness session a week until July and then training properly for the Hyrox after that. When it comes to getting fitter, the following tenants are ranked in order of most important, together they could be consider a kind of cheat code to maximise your return on investment.
Consistency – This is the true fundamental to fitness development. It is the tortoise and the hare, if you are consistent you can make massive progress. If you are not, then you will always struggle. When I first start training a client I am not overly concerned about going super hard because I care mostly about consistency. Pain and consistency are pretty much polar opposites. Exercise must first be consistent, only then can you even consider the issue of intensity / pain. Any significant fitness gains happen because you are consistent over a longer period. On social media the brutal and spectacular workouts get all the attention but what you miss is the fact this workout has come amongst a series of many months to years of consistency. For example, you will not find any muscular person who hasn’t been training for at least 2 to 3 years continuously.
Specificity – When you first do fitness and you are at a beginner level then almost any fitness helps any other, e.g. you could go swimming and it would help your jogging. However, as you begin to get fitter you will find other disciplines do not overly help you get to that next level in your main fitness type. As you get to higher levels again you may find other training actually impeds progress. There is a reason that almost no professional athletes dominate in more than one event or sport. At high level, specificity matters. For most people, the focus of specificity should be centered around whether your training prepares you for life? For my personal training clients I want them prepared to handle all life has to offer. So I ensure they can jump, move in 360′ directions and jog a little as life demands all these things off you. If you happen to sign up for a marathon or start playing a sport then your training needs to factor this in.
Targeted Program Design – To reach higher levels of fitness you will need a targeted training programme. Most people find they reach a plateau over time, for some this plateau is reached due to their level of consistency while others it is the lack of specialisation in one thing. However, clever programme design can get you round most issues of needing to be specific.
There are so many benefits to using a training plan tailored to your needs. This is best designed off your own fitness data as it allows weak spots to be identified which may need more emphasis or perhaps you need to do add something in that you have not even considered, e.g. breathing efficiency training to help your running, or foot strengthening work to help your lifting. The average person can make dramatic fitness improvement with NO more effort than they are doing right now but simply by using a programme designed to specifically challenge their body.
Group Environment – Motivation is at best half from you and the rest from the environment around you. This means to optimise your performance levels you will need to be around other people in a group of some form. This is great if you are struggling with consistency but even more important if you are looking to get to high levels of performance. All athletes have a coach and most professionals in individual sports join a training group so they are not doing it alone.
What Does This Mean For You?
The key take away from this information is to consider where you are and then work to develop each part over time. For most people everything just needs to be focused upon becoming more consistent. After that, if you include all four then you will be in a great position. So what does this look like –
For a new to exercise person who has just joined a gym then it may be something like you focus on going to the gym 1-2 times a week for 15 to 30 minutes max. Your only aim is to turn up every week for 3 months. You avoid pushing yourself too hard and only choose what exercises you enjoy. You do a mix of training alone and doing a class. After a few weeks you ask one of the staff members to show you a new exercise each time you go in to expand your repertoire. After the first three months you get a programme to follow for the next 3 months to build on what you have enjoyed.
For a keen runner, already running a couple of times a week and doing a couple of circuit classes you may decide to focus on running for three months to try improve your 5km time. To do this you join your local running club who train on a Thursday and you get a running specific training plan from a running coach. You drop your circuit training to do one strength session a week and see how the body changes over the few months you are on the plan.
In my experience the main issues people have is for beginners, they cannot get out of the pushing it too hard or exercising too long mindset. They also seem to avoid just choosing what they enjoy doing. For beginners especially it is about learning to be consistent.
For experienced exercisers, most people have trouble committing to one specific goal for fear of losing their other fitness abilities or thinking that this new plan is a life long commitment. It is very easy to maintain fitness attributes while focusing heavily on one area if using a well designed programme.
Photo – My progress tracker from last bodybuilding competition showing great consistency and some training programmes designed for clients –
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