Our previous newsletter covered my five things to avoid for success in the gym and with your fitness. So now, I’ll venture over to the other side of the equation and cover the best ways to keep your body healthy.
Here are my five must-haves for any successful workout program and an active and healthy life. Sorry, no video has been made for this yet, but it will be coming soon, so give us a follow on Instagram and TikTok for this and some other good stuff.
1. Program A Warm-Up
The warm-up isn’t on my list because of any physical benefit. Even though there are many that I’ve written about thebenefits of a warm-uphere.
The best part of the warm-up for anyone’s training program is it provides a set of instructions for getting started. It’s like going to the supermarket with a specific shopping list versus wandering the aisles for something that looks good.
For the days you’re feeling unmotivated or in a rush, having the first steps laid out of lower-intensity activity eliminates a barrier to entry.
So don’t skimp on the warm-up. Instead, make a plan for the first 10 minutes of every training session that you can get yourself to do, even on your worst days.
This is short for High-Intensity Interval Training, and it’s the one training tool I recommend for everyone.
The goal of HIIT Training is to get outside that comfortable area where the work is mainly aerobic and push into the anaerobic zone where things start to burn. Stay here for just a little bit, then rest to let your body recover, and then do it again.
It’s this stimulus that pushes the body to adapt and get better.
A practical HIIT session can include running, biking, stairs, weights, or anything else that will get you close to max effort.
And the key to a good HIIT workout isn’t going until you’re lying in a pool of sweat. Instead, it requires proper work-to-rest intervals that allow you to sustain the hard effort over multiple sets and follow a progression over time that will enable you to build the intensity safely.
The big point I don’t want you to miss is training should get you near a max effort…at least occasionally.
3. Practice and Play Sports
If you do a Google search for the “benefits of sports,” you’ll find a long list of articles about why sports are great for kids. But those benefits don’t stop after high school.
Sports work on things we start to lose later in life and make us old, like accuracy, agility, and balance. Learning new things also challenges the brain, which helps keep us lucid.
Sports also provide an outlet for socialization which is part of a meaningful life.
It’s also a motivating factor for other healthy lifestyle things. For example, suppose you continue to get your butt kicked in your golf game, on the mountain bike trail, or on the basketball court because your fitness, mobility, or nutrition are lacking, it helps add inspiration to stay disciplined and fix those things.
So if you’re only grinding it out in the gym every day, try finding a sport you enjoy and add some competition to your life.
4. Track Nutrition
I’ll preface this by acknowledging that counting calories or macros may not benefit everyone. If you struggle with obsessive food tendencies and tracking intake would degrade your life, then absolutely disregard it.
But, most of us eat haphazardly and knowing what our body needs and what we typically intake is a beneficial experiment. Only a 30-day trial of tracking calories taken in and grams of carbs, proteins, and fats is a great teaching tool in a society where tasty food is abundant.
You learn proper serving sizes or realize that certain things may be missing from your diet. For me, I found I need to be intentional about adding fiber to my diet and getting low-fat sources of protein.
Also, you start avoiding meals that would be over half your daily calorie needs. As an aside, I strongly support a good meal, and I don’t sweat the calories when they will be enjoyed thoroughly, but when running out to lunch for a quick bite, I find it good to have some limits.
5. Increase Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This is most commonly referred to by its abbreviation: NEAT.
NEAT is an acronym for the range of activities we engage in that don’t include our body’s natural operations, like digestion, or the calories we burn via exercise. It can be anything from pacing while on a phone call or fidgeting at your desk to more intentional movement like taking the stairs or riding a bike to work.
Finding ways to increase NEAT in your life keeps the body ready for when you need to push, and it adds up to many more calories burned in the day.
Movement is more important than earning your beach body, but calories are best expended when enjoying life to the fullest.
Bonus: The Crossover Primer
I didn’t add this to the Top 5 List because I’m sure there are other ways to tackle it, but based on my experience and from those I hear from, the Shoulder & Hip Activation programs are a slam dunk for helping people move and feel better.