I always tell people that fitness and working out has so much carryover in life than just the physical aspect of looking and feeling better. Sure, you will increase your strength and change your body composition if you diet properly which will probably make you feel better about yourself but the benefits that it has outside the gym (such as performing better at your job or improving relationships) far exceed what I think most people look for when starting a fitness program/journey. I believe passionately that fitness improves all areas of your life because I experienced it firsthand.
I was not in a good place in my life when I started working out regularly. It took time, but it was amazing how everything started to transform. Even though it didn’t happen overnight, it opened up many opportunities for me. I started a career in fitness, which ultimately allowed me to meet my wife and now we have a beautiful 7-month-old daughter. Fitness gave me a purpose, and the foundation on which to share my passion. Not to get all wishy washy but you get my point…When you emulate positive thoughts and vibes, positive things happen. It’s inevitable.
I put together this list of “commandments” to follow and abide by, not for the sake of looking better but also improving all areas of your life. Life is short! Live it up!!!
- Train consistently
This is probably the most important out of all the commandments to ensure success. You need to understand that fitness is a lifelong achievement and the people that consistently train week in and week out will experience the best results over time.
Success in fitness and health has to be maintained so your plan needs to revolve around something that you can consistently maintain over the years. Understand what will work for your lifestyle so that you don’t get burnt out in the process. It is much better to train 2X a week for a whole year than 5-6X a week for a couple months then get burnt out. Real success starts with being consistent all the time.
- Balance between training HARD and training SMART
There is no question that we all need and should train hard. However, we need to be smart in the process. The new mantra in the strength and conditioning world is “train smarter, not harder” which sort of attacks this whole CrossFit craze that came about over the past decade. I agree to an extent, but I also feel that people take this “train smarter” concept too far and end up missing out on the bigger picture…”hard work pays off.” Hard work does pay off but we also shouldn’t get injured in the process. To ensure that you can work hard AND stay healthy, hold yourself accountable to the movement standards. Be consistent with performing movements properly. Never compromise form to add a few more lbs or get a few more reps. Work as hard as you want as long you maintain good form. Work smarter by finding a balance between these two ideas.
- Master the compound movements
The compound movements (Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, ) are the foundation of a successful strength and conditioning program. There are different variations for each of these movements based on an athletes’ abilities and limitations…which is why it is important to have a coach determine what exercise best suits you in the long run. No one is completely perfect at any of these movements and we can all work on becoming more efficient when performing these movements. I always say that you should master a movement before you focus solely on getting stronger. Trust me, you will still get stronger working on the lifts. Don’t jump up in weight if you can’t maintain the same integrity of the lift. Again, hold yourself accountable.
- Warm-up properly
I can’t stress this one enough.
First off, warm-ups SHOULDN’T take a whole hour. It SHOULD be just enough to get the blood flowing and the muscles and joints prepared for the work ahead. Warming up should consist of some self myofascial release (AKA Foam Rolling or soft tissue work), then some basic joint-by-joint mobility work. As you learn your body and certain mobility issues, then you can focus a little more on your weaknesses so that they improve over time.
One of my favorite warmup is the Turkish Get Up because there is so much going on with that movement if performed properly. You can check it out here: Turkish Get Up Video
- Being smart the other 23 hours out of the day
You can’t out train a crappy diet.
Nutrition is probably one of the biggest issues people have when starting up a program. You need to understand how many calories you should be taking in as well as getting the correct blend of macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats). I believe in living a little, so I don’t think that you have to be perfect all of the time. Depending on what your goals are though, you need to look at how often you can step outside the box. Form positive eating habits and you are one step closer to success.
The last two things that I will put into this category are SLEEP and STRESS. Everyone is different with their sleep schedules but if you are not getting enough sleep, it can effect your fitness progress and the hard work you’re putting in at the gym. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and try to be consistent with that. Stress is another one we could all do without and something that can hinder your workout and fitness progress. Analyze your life choices and habits. Life is too short to stress about everything and I know it is easier said than done. Read a book, talk to someone, go for a walk, play with your kids/pets, or get your workout in – these are all ways to combat stress.