Previously we’ve covered if your training is making you more prepared for life. You can read this here, here and also here. By life I mean what you do, that could be playing sports, running a business, being a student, a parent and everything in-between. Training should improve your quality of life. It does this by getting your stronger, fitter, and more mobile. It also can inoculate you against stress and build mental strength if you do the right things. So what are the right things?
These are a few things that I have found important in a balanced training program. The things I mention below are quite general and are more categories of movements, but everyone will see some benefit in including these in your weekly training schedule.
This is the most important one in my opinion. Being able to move through a full range of motion is very important, though most people cant. You need range of motion to have healthy movement. If you lack mobility in one joint, you will compensate somewhere else. This can lead to movement dysfunction and eventually injury.
As the saying goes: If you don’t use it you lose it and we don’t use our range of motion to its fullest in our day to day lives. Therefore we need to move through a full range when we train. This doesn’t mean you have to heavily load the full range, but you should move through range and develop stability in the ends of your ranges.
Find some resources here.
2. Lifting heavy things
Strength is king. It is the foundation for all things and is the biggest difference maker in most athletic endeavours. How do you get stronger? Lift heavy things, with good form. You can lift barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags or even people. As long as you lift an object that challenges your abilities. It is best to lift a combination of all of the above as they each have their own advantages. As far as lifts go you should do the following:
· Press (overhead or bench)
· Pull (Rows)
3. Bodyweight exercises
It’s good to be strong and be able to move heavy things around, but you should also have control of your body so don’t neglect your push ups, pull ups, squats, single leg squats. There are many more but those are the basics.
Running fast is magic. If you want to lose fat and maintain muscle mass. Sprinting is for you. There is something primal about running at top speed and if you’re not involved in a running based sport, it is lacking in most people’s training. Practically being able to run fast is an important skill, it might not be necessary everyday but it’s one of those things that you want to be able to do when the need arises; like being able to run from danger or chase an ice cream truck. Important note: DO NOT GO ALL OUT ON YOUR FIRST SESSION. Start slowly and build it up to prevent injury. Don’t exceed 70% intensity if you haven’t sprinted in a long time and make sure you warm up properly before you start. Keep the distances short to begin with 20-40m. Later, once you have done that for 2-3 sessions you can build up the intensity, distance and play with variations as you progress. Keep the reps low to begin with and give yourself enough time to recover to maintain speed (30-180sec between reps).
Some variations that I like to do include:
· 10 x 10m sprints
· 4 x 40m shuttle (4 x 10m sprints)
· Hill sprints (60 – 100m; but we have done further) Sprint up walk down for 20min
· 400m sprints 3-6 reps; run one every 5 minutes i.e. minute 0, minute 5, minute 10 , etc.
5. Ground work
Do you work on the ground when you train? Aside from doing crunches and other ab exercises, do you get up and down from the ground? Do you crawl? These are important aspects to train. The ability to change levels (get up and down) are important in many sports. They are also essential in life. For the elderly falling is very dangerous and this is affected by the fact that so few of us get up and down from the ground on a regular basis. So do something for your future self. Get on the ground, do some Turkish get ups, crawl and roll around a bit. Read more on this here, here and here.
One of my favourite sayings from Jim Wendler is, “strong legs + strong lungs = hard to kill” Yes, it’s important to be strong, but that strength has to be there when you’re tired. So it’s important to strengthen your cardiorespiratory system. Don’t neglect your longer cardio sessions. Get your heartrate elevated for an hour or so. Run, cycle, swim or walk even. It doesn’t always have to feel like your lungs are on fire and your heart is going to explode. There are many benefits to low intensity cardio. Everything doesn’t always have to be at 100% effort, sometimes 40% is all you need Read more on this here.
Remember to have fun. Training should not be torture and punishment. You should enjoy the process. This does not mean that there aren’t difficult things that you don’t want to do but need to. But in general you should have fun, give yourself freedom to indulge your childlike sense of play. Something that we should never lose. So use it when you train. Play some games, joke around a bit. There’s no need to be serious all the time.
8. Get out of your comfort zone
Nothing great happens in a comfort zone. The way you stay the same is staying in your little bubble of comfort and safety. So if you want to improve, get out of your comfort zone. In training and in life this is important. Doing it in training is great practice for doing it in other situations. So push yourself that extra little bit. Get those extra reps, run that little bit faster. Get out of your comfort zone that is where the growth happens.
Move a lot
Work on the ground
Make sure that this is part of your training, to be a more capable human.