by Matt Espeut
There are many different programs and types of workouts in this continually evolving and confusing industry, and in order to get ideal results and avoid injury, you must select the system that works for you by fitting your needs and abilities to your program. Your first question to yourself should be WHY?
You need to determine your goals first, and then you need to get the correct directions to reach this goal. Otherwise, it is like getting into your car without a map or destination. You will end up wasting time, energy and money, or even worse, end up with an unnecessary injury. You need to treat exercise as if you were taking medication. Too much is an overdose, and too little does nothing. You need the right amount for it to be effective. Note: I never encourage medication, but this seems to illustrate the idea.
So with that being said, I will try to correlate your potential goal with a method of training you can adopt.
Although there are different goals wanting to be achieved, three things are set in stone and apply to EVERYBODY.
1) You need a nutrition program based on whole organic foods and proper hydration.
2) You must strengthen the core before loading the body.
3) You need to master basic movement patterns such as the squat, press, dead lift, and rotational moves.
These rules apply to everyone from the recreational exerciser to the most high-endurance athlete. If you do not accomplish these three things first, you will be swimming against the current, and results will be tougher or non-existent.
What are your goals?
Different goals may go from wanting to be fitter with better posture, to being a better golfer or a football player, to entering a fitness contest or bodybuilding show—and winning. If you are content with your dimensions and you just want to maintain strength and mobility, bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups and bodyweight squats will do the trick. Add core routines like planks and bridges and you can create a routine and perform it anywhere. There are lots of progressions that can be added to create a more intense workout and adding simple equipment such as bands and med balls will create even greater challenges.
I meet a lot of guys this time of year who tell me right away that they want to improve their golf game. Although you do not need to be athletic to play golf, having strong core stability, proper range of motion, spine mobility, and strong shoulder stabilizers is essential to avoiding injuries due to the sheer force needed to perform a strong drive. You need exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and acceleration muscles as well as deceleration muscles to help stabilize the core under force. Strong legs are important, but you need mobility and balance, so single leg exercises are helpful. Cable, rotary, and stability exercises will be beneficial to maintaining range of motion and building power.
Football, hockey, rugby or any other contact or lateral sport requires another level of intensity. If you don’t have it and your opponent does, you have a problem. If you want to play hard, you need to train harder. Your off-season should consist of at least 2 power sessions containing heavy deadlifts, squats, and press variations, as well as 2-3 metabolic/core sessions. Agility ladders, jam balls, plyo-boxes, and push sleds are all beneficial tools to make athletes strong and metabolically fit. All these tools will only work if you bring intensity to every session. You can’t get fit to the level you need for competitive sports if you don’t have a never quit attitude and mental toughness. If you can’t push yourself in the gym and are unprepared game time, you end up on the injury list. So train hard and smart and you will play at a higher level.
Bodybuilders and fitness contestants need to forget life as they know it and devote their lives to their bodies. This is the most calculated and measured form of training you can do. Food needs to be weighed, measured and portioned for every meal. Exercise needs to be scheduled and never missed. You need to pay attention and understand how your body responds to certain foods, supplements and exercise. Your willpower around food has to be flawless. Giving up sugar, bread, and dairy completely and following a regimented diet for 8-12 weeks is a mandatory commitment. This takes an extreme amount of discipline and hard work, and sometimes requires high-risk practices such as dehydration and depletion to achieve certain aesthetics to impress judges. As long as you proceed with caution, a competition could be a good goal in and of itself—even if you don’t win or place, it will be a test of your discipline that you can use to accomplish your other goals in life.
Matt Espeut, Fitness Profiles, www.FitnessProfiles.net