Long term, success in fitness especially weight training depends on sustainability; the best training program will fail unless it remains consistently engaging. This is a difficult undertaking because often what people find enjoyable and what is necessary to get them to their goals is not one in the same.
Experience shows the best way to approach this dilemma is sticking to our guns and keeping the core of the program consistent. The reason it is important to keep the bones of the regiment the same is that repetitive physical exertion leads to anatomical adaptation and that is how performance improves. An example of this is found during Hypertrophy training as multiple sets causing exhaustive lactic acid failure results in increased Cell Volume.
The human body is an ever adapting physiological mechanism. When it is consistently challenged by the appropriate stimuli our anatomy will always overcome it by getting bigger, stronger, faster, leaner or more powerful. This speaks to the need for a properly executed periodized training program, but does not explain how to keep it interesting.
To create an engaging, fun and exciting program two elements are necessary; results and variation. The results portion we have been working on by choosing exercises, testing, and creating a highly effective Maximum Strength program over the last few articles, now we’ll add in some variation.
Add variety with elements of fitness, nutrition, supplementation and sport which compliment you current phase of training. Each activity should enhance recovery, flexibility, agility, energy or some other factor beneficial to your specific goals or overall fitness, and should not take away from your primary training.
For athletes add pool work and for a swimmer add court play like badminton, basketball or squash. Pool work builds lung capacity, it is low impact so therefore easy on the joints, and it develops ligaments, tendons and muscle attachments. Conversely court activities increase agility, joint strength and muscular coordination as well as appealing to the swimmers competitive tendencies out of the pool.
Yoga is also a healthy addition to your program increasing flexibility, muscular control and relieving much of the lactic acid built up during training. In some cases recovery can be the most important element hindering athletes from achieving increased performance.
Also try to work in recreational activities like biking, canoeing, running, or hiking which will help to maintain balance in your training. And if your partner is game sign up for dance lessons which are notoriously good for increasing dexterity and coordination. Also embrace the winter; get out skating, skiing or snowshoeing they will all benefit you emotionally and physically.
Other elements such as sleep and nutrition are major factors directly affecting your energy levels, competitive willingness as well as flexibility and the rate at which we achieve lactic acid fatigue. Some simple tips can help; drink water like it’s going out of style, eat kale, spinach and broccoli, increase protein, drop bad fats, increase good fats and EFA’s and lose the starchy carbs (for now). Other than that, sleep more than 6 and less that 12 hours a day, stretch and try to reduce your sedentary time by injecting things like trying a new recipe or taking the dog for a walk.
In fitness like in life balance is important. Make sure there is just as much anticipation to participate in healthy activities as there is begrudging how stiff you’ll be post workout.
Most important though; don’t forget to workout it might get forgotten amongst all the healthy alternatives provided above.
Yours in Health,