Fitness means different things for different people. For example, one person might consider themselves fit because they walk 10k steps a day, whilst another person might measure their fitness against their ability to run 10k in under 45 minutes or lift a certain weight in the gym.
Neither one is better than the other, fitness is specific and relevant to the individual.
This short post will cover 4 things to know about fitness, how they can help you and how you can ensure you maintain and improve your fitness outside of a gym environment.
Why do I say outside of a gym environment you may ask? Well, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on gyms large and small with many struggling and even closing down.
Many personal trainers have also been hit hard, some finding alternative ways to maintain their client services whilst many, including myself have had to find others sources of income.
Many people have also decided not to return to the gym once lockdown allows for this as they are either training well themselves or afraid to go into such a closed environment for fear of catching covid-19.
Training at home, or at least away from a gym environment will become and is indeed now the way most of us will train.
It is with this in mind and to help clarify and give a greater understanding of what fitness is that I hope to achieve for you here.
So what is fitness? The definition according to the Oxford Dictionary is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy” and “the quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task”.
1. Cardiovascular Fitness
Endurance training, cv workouts or Long Steady State (LSS). Call it what you want, there are many permutations but in essence it is training that will improve your heart and lung function so that you may repeat a task many times or keep moving for an extended period of time. This could be as straightforward as walking or cycling every day. You may progress to running, I row for example. There are many options here with the main guideline being that you exercise at a steady pace that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more whilst just about maintaining a conversation. Of course as you get fitter you can push yourself further, harder and faster!
2. Strength Training and Muscular Fitness
This is a very broad area of fitness that encompasses many various training modes and goals. In my opinion the underpinning premise of muscular fitness is the ability to move your body’s limbs and joints through their full range under load. How this is achieved and what that load is will be determined by your goals and physical abilities. Yoga, Pilates and other various bodyweight exercises are a great place to start for many people, especially if you are new to resistance training.
If you are training at home it is relatively easy to pick up some light to moderate weight dumbells and kettlebells. Setting yourself up to use barbells is a little more complex as this requires space, proper flooring, and usually some sort of rack. Training at home will place a limit on your strength training in so much as it is difficult to use heavy weights for the reasons outlined above.
That being said, you can still make big strength gains training at home through progressive overload, this means that you will try to increase the load lifted, reduce the rest time between sets, increase or decrease the tempo of the lift or increase the repetitions of a set load over time. Muscular fitness is usually seen as the ability to repeat a movement multiple times before fatigue kicks in. Circuits, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and cross-training are great ways to workout at home. These methods often employ bodyweight or lighter weight exercises and combine whole-body exercises with repeated efforts to great effect.
3. Health & Fitness
If you are looking to maintain or improve your health & fitness, or maintain a healthy weight then it is relatively simple to do this. There are two key aspects to looking after yourself this way; eat healthily and move regularly. I have included below an Eatwell plate for your information. Moving regularly is as easy as taking a daily walk or doing some Yoga at home.
The bigger the variety of movement the better for you it will be. Having said that, any movement is better than none. If you are only doing low to moderate intensity movement such as walking as outlined above then this should be a daily occurrence. As intensity increases, maybe using resistance or weights of some kind, running or cycling then you may need to consider rest days here and there in order for your body to regenerate and recover.
4. Mobility and Movement
As we age it is very easy for us to become less mobile. There are many reasons why this happens and as long as there are no underlying medical issues then we can reduce the risk of losing our mobility and in many cases even improve our mobility with the correct exercises and a little patience. Many exercises will in themselves help to improve mobility.
Take the squat for example, I have had several clients who for various reasons couldn’t squat and had back and knee pain. In addressing some of their restrictive movement issues I got them to start squatting just using their own body weight. The progressions were to increase both the number of squats completed and the depth to which they squatted.
All of these clients were eventually able to squat to at least parallel depth if not deeper, some progressed to using load and all of them had less knee and back pain, more movement confidence and greatly improved mobility. Yoga, pilates, bodyweight circuits and movement flows, strength training and circuits will all help to maintain and improve your mobility if performed correctly and done in conjunction with a good stretching programme.
So there you have it, 4 things to know about fitness; conditioning also viewed as stamina or endurance, strength training, general health & fitness, and movement. Not all of these areas will be relevant to everyone but hopefully most people will get something from this post in terms of how to make the most of their training outside of a gym environment.
The key points to take home from this are that regular movement in any form is essential, following a healthy, nutritious and well balanced meal plan is better than short term crash diets, restricted eating or an over reliance on supplements.
Keep it simple and your journey to greater health & fitness will be more easily achievable.
For more blog posts on health & fitness, training and nutrition go to www.getcoached.net