Eight Habits for Long Term Fitness Success–#5 Get Fast and Explosive
There are thousands of different workout programs and methods to use to become more fit. These range from at home workout videos, to aerobic or yoga classes, to bootcamps and group functional training workouts. Methods, benefits, and risks/drawbacks could be debated until our last breath and often are among fitness professionals. One thing I’ve come to learn in my twenty years in this industry is that dogmatic approaches rarely pan out, and you are better off steering clear of anything or anyone who claims any one method of training is optimal and a cure all for everyone under every circumstance. However, I do believe that there are some universal habits that will vastly improve someone’s fitness. For the sake of this article, I will stick with habits which only involve movement, with an understanding that nutrition, rest, recovery, stress management, and body weight all impact fitness as well.
To know what habits will best improve long term fitness, we must first define the term. There are three definitions of fitness. The first (and newest, brought on by the growth of the fitness industry) is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy.” This definition misses the mark as it uses the root of the word in it, and doesn’t really tell us anything. The second definition is “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.” This definition is a little bit better. We can see here that the fitness required to be an NFL offensive lineman and the fitness required to run the Ironman in Hawaii is much different. This still doesn’t get to what most of us think of when we describe someone as being fit. The third definition, and the one I find to be most relevant to the general population, is “an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.” Put differently, your ability to reproduce and pass your genes onto the next generation. At first glance, this may seem like a poor definition. If we go back 100-500 years to a time where modern technology and medicine couldn’t “fix” everything, this definition is ideal. If someone is over or underweight, they struggle with fertility. If someone has major health complications, injuries, etc. they would have a hard time attracting a mate, defending themselves/home, or feeding themselves. Certain lifestyle choices will absolutely reduce fertility rates (smoking, drinking, stress) therefore decreasing one’s fitness. Operating with the biological definition of fitness, I find that the following eight habits will set you up for a lifetime of greatness.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Get Fast & Explosive
One area that is often neglected in many general fitness plans is power, speed, and agility work. This is unfortunate as this is one of the quickest areas to decrease as we age. This type of training should be done after a thorough warm up (soft tissue work, stretching, and activation work). This work can include Medicine Ball Throws, KB Swings, Olympic Weightlifting variations (cleans, snatches, and their variations), jumps, sprints, bounds, hops, and various change in direction drills. What’s important is that these things are not done in a state of fatigue. If our explosiveness, power, or speed begin to decrease substantially, then we cease to get the benefits we are striving for. We want to pick things that we are competent in, have progressed to slowly, and that don’t cause an undue risk of injury. We start most of our clients with Med Ball throws starting in kneeling position, bounds/skips, and box jumps. For many people, this is all they will need, for others we will progress to move complex or taxing modalities based off their ability, goals, and tolerance. It’s best to perform this type of training 2-3 times per week before your strength or conditioning work for 3-10 sets or 2-6 repetitions with plenty of rest between sets.