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Is Your Fitness Pyramid Wrong?

Jason Yun Jason Yun Is Your Fitness Pyramid Wrong?Photo via LocalFitness.
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“What you focus on grows!”

That is a saying that I have been living by for a while now. Sometimes my focus can wander, but usually it comes back to where it is because of the goals I have set up.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are focusing on the wrong things— especially with fitness. AND especially around New Years and their resolutions.

A lot of people are still living in the 80’s or 90’s and are simply focused on the ‘more-is-better’ attitude. More is not always better especially if what you are doing is wrong.

We live in a microwave society — we want things now, or we want them as fast as possible. With fitness you have to realize that this is a lifetime journey; which means you will be doing it for your entire life. But you won’t be doing it if you keep doing it wrong and are not seeing the results you want.

So let’s fix your fitness pyramid!

In this pyramid are 4 blocks. 3 are essential and to be done weekly and some daily. The last block is really not that important, even though gyms, magazines, and uneducated personal trainers would have you think it’s the end-all-be-all for achieving your dream body.

#1 Regeneration and Mobility

WHAT?! That’s at the top of the pyramid?! Yes it is. Here’s why:

I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase ‘use it or lose it’ before. Nothing can be more true then staying mobile, limber and be proactive about it.

What is regeneration?

The most important part in our program is self-massage. There is a technical name for it, but I won’t bore you. So you basically use tools like foam rollers, PVC Pipes, lacrosse balls, softballs, or tennis balls. All of that stuff will cost you anywhere between $20 – 50 depending on brands and level of difficulty.

Everybody should have these items. Because I want you to think about the older YOU!

Sitting is considered the new smoking. Most people sit up to 12 hours a day with commute, work, and home leisure time. Studies have said that for every hour you sit it takes off 21.8 minutes of your life, compared to 11 minutes per cigarette. Plus a big issue with sitting as much as we do now is that you basically form to the shape you are in the most. So a lot people lose the ability to turn on their glute muscles, hips get tight, hamstrings get tight, ankles, knees get sore, lower back loses strength, etc…

And we do it everyday.

IT IS DAMAGE! Scar tissue will build up in those places, a lot of people will start to hunch over in the upper back and start the hunchback of Notre Dame look. Not a good look, so we need to have a plan to get rid of it and fix it.

Rolling hurts when you first start for everybody that has never done it. That pain is scar tissue, and it will build up if you don’t take care of it.

So regeneration and mobility should be done 5-7 times a week.

#2 – Weight Training and Intervals

Weight training is the most important type of training you can do for your health and body.

It’s important to have and build lean muscle tissue. The important word there being lean. You don’t need to be big and bulky— lifting weights doesn’t make you big and bulky unless your following a nutrition plan to get big and bulky.

Lean muscle tissue allows you to sculpt your body. You are the Michelangelo and your body is the ‘David’. You can create your very own masterpiece. Your metabolism is higher; you burn more calories at rest and the majority of those will come from fat.

You can eat more carbs. Yes, you need to earn your carbs. No workout, no carbs — sorry.

And an even better way to weight train and build some lean muscle tissue is interval training. This is what we do all the time with our physical classed and our online workouts. For example, take five exercises:

  1. Pushups
  2. Squats
  3. Jumping jacks
  4. Kettlebell Swings
  5. Some form of a Row

You do all exercises in a 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off fashion. So 30 seconds of pushups, then rest 30 seconds, then 30 seconds of squats, then rest, and repeat. Repeat for a total of 30 rounds and you just did a total of 15 minutes of work. And that’s all you need when doing intervals or weight training. Do that 3 or 4 times a week and watch your body change.

#3 Yoga/Tai Chi/Qui Gong/Meditation/Breathing

Now this can be done everyday, and should be.

It’s in your new pyramid because the majority of people don’t know how to breathe and they don’t take the time to clear their mind from the busyness of life.

It’s absolutely critical. Because if you are just go-go-go-go-go without giving your mind a break, then that is causing stress. And if your stress and stress hormones are too high, it doesn’t matter what types of workout or what nutrition program your on because you’re not going to get the results you are after and you are probably going to get frustrated and quit.

One technique that we use before every Improvement Warrior Yoga session is called Box Breathing. You breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, and hold that for five seconds. That is one round. Then you repeat for a specified time. Try and build up the time for the actual inhale, holds and exhales. Give it a try.

The most important thing is focusing on the breath, and letting all thoughts exit. It takes practice and that’s why it’s #3 on the pyramid and should be don 5-7 times a week.

#4 – Cardio

Last in the pyramid is the one I recommend chucking out the window.

Yes. I know that goes against what a lot of other so-called ‘experts’ and fitness magazines say, but you should stop.

This new pyramid is about saving and making you have more time. With cardio you have to do a lot of it for it to be effective. When you first start it’s fine, but the more that you do it the more metabolically inefficient it becomes. Your body burns less and less calories and fat the more you do it and the better you get at it. Which is the complete opposite of weight training and intervals.

Other reasons to chuck it are it’s boring. Same thing over and over again.

If it’s the cardiovascular (aerobic) boost you are after, you can actually increase (or decrease) your resting heart rate better with intervals.

It shrinks your lean muscle tissue. Especially if you are not doing any weight or strength training. You start to lose about 1 pound of lean muscle tissue after the age of 40. The biggest cause of death after the age of 65 is from falls. Again THINK ABOUT THE OLDER YOU. The more your muscles shrink from excess cardio or complete lack of exercise the more your mobility, coordination, balance, heart, and brain shrinks— all of which can lead to falls and some serious cognitive decline.

Now if you are an endurance athlete by all means continue doing your training. But if you are busy person looking for the best and fastest ways to get in shape and sculpt your body then chuck the cardio and implement #1-3 of your new FITNESS PYRAMID!

For more information, visit www.improvementwarriorfitness.com.

From January 5 – 11, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the The Fitness Loft. The Fitness Loft is more than just a gym – it’s a visionary approach to developing a sustainable community and creating an atmosphere that encourages people to lead a healthier life. Our holistic concept includes biometric wellness screening, Technogym exercise equipment that records progress, free group fitness and nutrition classes, an on-site Registered Dietitian, and much more to give you a truly unique wellness experience. Located at 625 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206.

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