“I fear not the man that has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced one kick, 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee
In terms of fitness, it is not how much but how well we move that determine our results. If you want incredible fitness results, then you’ll have to do things the right way, every time.
After so many years of my life revolving around health and fitness, I’ve come across a few patterns. I’m very curious about why people do what they do. Specifically, why do some people achieve results effortlessly, and others struggle?
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For many, health and fitness is a goal – they follow a diet or adhere to a fitness regime to achieve a certain look or feeling. Personally, I feel heading down this route only leads to trouble. It’s all too easy to become obsessive about any goal.
If we crave and desire an outcome too badly, we almost always get into trouble. For my fitness friends, this looks a lot like overworking – working out when not properly rested or nourished, or generally pushing it too far to the point of injury.
As you can see, this is no way to go about achieving maximum results with your fitness goals. By staying in tune with your body, expanding your mind, keeping it natural and having a whole lot of fun, you can dramatically improve your output with ease.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Hierarchy of Health
If you don’t already know, we make our gains not during exercise but during rest time. Exercise is where we plant the seed, and during sleep and restfulness we reap the benefits. Of course, this means that the quality of our exercise is the start of the effect. Therefore, if we want to reap a rich harvest later on, it’d be wise to be fully prepared when sowing (exercising).
To do this, I reference what I call the Hierarchy of Health. In simple terms, I break down aspects of healthy living into an order of importance. Here’s what it looks like in order: sleep, nutrition, no workout, energy builders, stretching, core function, functional exercise. To understand this is simple, if you didn’t get quality sleep then do not work out. When you miss sleep, your body is in an already bad state of stress. To workout would not help or heal your body, it would only break it down more.
If you got great sleep but are undernourished and went to do heavy lifting, you will also be putting a stress on your body. You see the pattern? Exercise is a stress on the body. It’s supposed to be a good stress. When we follow this hierarchy of health we can stay in tune with our body’s energy levels so we can determine our optimal output during exercise, which will give us the most input (energy, vitality, strength, etc.) from an exercise.
2. Get outdoors
Exercising outdoors is possibly the greatest life hack I’ve ever come across for dramatically increasing your energy, vitality and health. Here are just a few of the many reasons to take your workouts outdoors for an ideal experience. First off, you will be incredibly more oxygenated exercising outdoors. One of the most important elements of a workout – if not the most important – is the breath.
Not only does the breath govern our entire system as the ultimate regulator, our breath is what controls how oxygenated our bodies are. The more oxygen we have in our bodies, the higher our blood pH, and the more resilient we are to disease, free radical damage and aging. Because exercise can cause these things if we do it in excess, getting an oxygen overdose will dramatically reduce the negative side effects. This leaves us to reap the rewards with minimal side effects.
3. Show some skin
Next we have the sun. Many pro athletes, actors/actresses and other celebrities use something called hyperbaric oxygen chambers because they understand the importance of oxygen in healing the body and staying young. However, just take your workout outside for a treatment on the house courtesy of Mother Nature. Then you have the sun working in your favor – that is, if you work out on a sunny day. Even so, the sun is still making its way through the clouds and you’ll notice the difference.
In short, the sun is the source of life for this physical planet. It is for you, too. We can survive without food and water for days. If the sun vanished, we’d vanish in no time flat. In particular, the sun is a source of vitamin D3, which is not just a vitamin but also a hormone. Getting ample amounts of it from the sun is like hijacking your hormones for the better. Vitamin D has pain-killing properties, which make those harder workouts much easier, helping us to push it in a workout without really pushing it too far.
It also increases fat metabolism and improves our ability to metabolize energy. We are essentially absorbing the sun’s energy without any digestion! Forget drinking an intra-workout drink to stay energized, just hook yourself up to the sun’s lifeline for the ultimate boost.
4. Less is more
That’s right, less is more. This universal truth applies just about everywhere. Why does it seem so hard to grasp, then? Well, take a look around; we live in a society that overvalues paper money and material possessions. No wonder so many people don’t understand, we’re on an elusive chase for fulfillment through a game of numbers. Here’s a secret no one told you: numbers never end. The same goes for fitness. The reps and hours can drag on; however, there always hits a point of diminishing returns.
There is a sweet spot for everything in life, and it’s just about finding it and residing in it. Essentially, for fitness it’s always better to under-train than over-train. Why? Simple, the under-trained athlete or person is going to have reserves of energy. The over-trained will lack staying power for the long haul. Additionally, over-training always suppresses the immune system.
Surely, you can overdo it and see some sort of physical gratification, otherwise known as the pump. However, fitness without health is a fragmented equation that will only result in infections, chronic fatigue and a very short-lived fitness experience. Work out and train to live, otherwise, what else are you doing it for?
If you work out too hard and too much, to the point where your body stops moving, then you likely weren’t working out with the best intentions. Applying this to your routine is as simple as not over-stressing about it.
Instead of taking on your fitness routine as if it were a race, switch your mindset to that of an artist. When you’re moving, imagine you were designing the most beautiful body, from the inside out. Take it one piece at a time, giving your full attention to the process. Be consistent, and most of all, enjoy yourself — which brings us to the last tip.
5. Keep it fun
If you really wish to get amazing results from your fitness routine, I suggest letting go a little. You can either have fun or struggle, there’s really no in between. And despite what the programming of your mind says, you can have fun. Who says it has to be fun to have fun? We decide what’s fun. When we do, our brain is flooded with feel-good, healing neurotransmitters that make exercise that much more effective.
Throw the “no pain, no gain” mentality out the window and you’ll start to have a lot more fun when you move your body. Try new workouts, get friends to join you, explore new spots, whatever you have to do to make it fun. Your body will thank you with a more effective workout, faster healing and, of course, the immediate gratification!
I leave you with a question: what are you training for? Really think about it. Do you want to just look a certain way or do you want to be able to use your body to its fullest potential? If you set your intentions on the latter, you may find it much easier to produce optimal results.
Rather than a hurried, sloppy final product, adopting these principles will guide you down the path toward a fine-tuned, peak-performing body that you can enjoy for a lifetime.
(Related: 10 Effective HIIT Workouts)
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