If you are reading this there is a very high chance you are into fitness!!
The dictionary definition of fitness is:
In good health, especially because of regular physical exercise.
Fit for purpose, i.e of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose
To me fitness can be broken down into 4 areas
All these individual components combine to enhance your fitness.
If you are lacking in one or more of these areas you will be losing out.
I love weight training, It is something I have enjoyed for around 20 years now.
When I was in my 20's and first started training I used to think things like running and cardio were unnecessary and strength training was all I needed to keep fit.
Hit the gym and lift some weights, you can achieve a level of cardiovascular fitness from it after all.
I didn't believe stretching was important. Touch my toes? Who cares if I can't do that.
Run for miles without stopping? How is that going to benefit me???
So what if my diet mainly consists mainly of junk food? I'm not putting weight on!!
But as I've grown older my opinions on these things have changed.
After suffering with a nasty case of sciatica that lasted nearly 3 months I started adding mobility work into my pre and post workout routines.
Entering the Total Warrior event with my bootcamp class in 2014 forced me to take up running so I didn't get left behind. by the rest of my group.
I've learnt more about the benefits of a healthy balanced diet and I understand how to eat for both health and enjoyment.
I don't spend hours and hours on these components of my fitness, (except maybe the diet side, I am very fond of eating).
Rather, just enough so that I can feel the benefit.
I try to run once a week (although I'm not always successful). Aiming to complete 3 miles in as quick a time as possible.
I spend 5-10 minutes going through a series of mobility flows before a session on the weights and will occasionally do the same on an evening if I feel like my body will benefit from it.
Doing these things has helped improve my quality of life and enhance my weight training workouts.
I'm still not interested in running a marathon or being able to do the splits, my main interest will always be in lifting weights.
However, the mobility work means I'm less likely to injure myself whilst lifting and allows me to get into safer, deeper positions in exercises like squat and deadlifts.
The fact that I now run for a continuous amount of time has increased my cardiovascular endurance and helps with my recovery between sets in the gym.
My much improved diet means I can better fuel my workouts and recover from them quicker.
You may never be interested in ever being able to deadlift twice your own body weight because running or cycling is your favourite form of exercise.
Maybe you have great flexibility but what if you can't pick kids up from the floor without hurting your back?
What is the point in being really strong if you get out of breath just climbing the stairs?
It isn't necessary to spend hours and hours each week trying to improve all these areas of fitness,
Who has the time, right?
But there are benefits to spending a little time achieving a certain level in each area.
You don't have to excel in all the components but being able to pass certain strength, mobility and fitness tests will enhance your life.
Where do I start to improve??
Take these short assessment tests and see where you're at.
Mobility : Deep Squat
Can you get your butt to your calves comfortably while maintain an equal foot position and keeping your heels on the ground
Do your heels lift from the floor?
If so, you may have limited ankle mobility.
Do your knees cave in? Is there a restriction in the depth of the squat?
This could mean your hips need working on.
Mobility : Overhead Reach
Lie on the floor with your arms by your side and thumbs up. From there, bring your arms slowly overhead.
Are they able to touch the surface behind you?
Are you arching your back in order to make them do so?
This suggests you have good mobility in your shoulder joint.
Fitness : Cardiovascular Endurance
Running without stopping, no time limit
>5 mile Excellent
3-5 mile Good
2-3 mile Average
< 1 mile Poor
Fitness : Strength
Bodyweight squat with perfect form
50 or more Excellent
15 or fewer Poor
Press up with perfect form
50 or more Excellent
15 or fewer Poor
Pull up with Perfect form
12 or more Excellent
3 or fewer Poor
Plank with perfect form
Which of these pictures most resembles your average weekly diet?
A) Super clean 100% wholefoods and fresh produce.
Is your diet so strict that you don't eat anything that is even remotely considered unhealthy?
Do you avoid things like processed food and sugar at all costs??
B) Overwhelmingly processed and packaged food.
Do you constantly eat food from packages like ready meals and tins?
Do your main sources of food come from takeaways or the frozen aisle?
C) 80% Wholefoods 20% things you fancy.
Do you eat wholefoods most of the time, prepare meals from multiple ingredients and cook them from fresh?
Do you allow yourself a treat occasionally and not beat yourself up about it??
How Did You Get on??
Once you have taken the tests I recommend focusing on just one area to start with,
Choose the fitness component that will be easiest for you to improve and will take the least amount of effort to achieve.
This will make it easy for you to succeed and motivate you to tackle some of the more challenging areas.
But if you are stuck for ideas here are a few suggestions:
If your mobility is lacking you could spend 10-15 minutes on an evening working on making improvements while you are relaxing in front of the telly. There are some great mobility flow/yoga videos on Youtube you could try.
Here's a great video from an epic yoga lady Sian that has helped me progress with my mobility.
Even better find out where your nearest yoga class is, call in to give it a go.
If increasing your strength would make a big difference to your fitness levels try adding a few squats, press ups and planks into your cardio sessions, start easy and build up by adding reps each time.
Or why not try a strength based exercise class or hire a PT.
Would improving your diet have the biggest impact on your fitness? Add extra vegetables or drink more water each day and see how you feel. Try to think in terms of adding positive things to your diet. Each time you add something new you leave less space for something that isn't enhancing your life.
Pretty soon you will be in good health and fit for purpose!!