From Here to There and back again …..again. A fitness plan.
This was nearly 7 years ago. I was working full time in IT, running 2 gyms and commuting between Melbourne and Benalla (192kms from GPO) every week. The money was great but the lifestyle was literally killing me. Despite everything I knew about health & fitness I was surviving on no sleep, takeaway meals and super high stress levels. To make matters worse I was taking way too many fitness classes (14 in 4 days was standard). Rather than doing me good, the classes were just more stress on my body and my weight was going up and up.
The solution was to stop and allow my body to rest. I took 4 weeks off everything, cut the crap out of my eating and pulled back to just twice weekly strength workouts. Those photos clearly show the result (and how great fake tan can be!). 4 weeks of LESS was all I needed. Even I was surprised.
Skip forward to 2015 and here we are again. Plenty of challenges and a body that’s been pushed to it’s limit twice in the last 2 years through childbirth. 4 weeks of complete rest and recovery just isn’t going to happen this time ….
My W.H.A.T do I need Today fitness plan
I need a ‘plan’ that can work with where I’m at right now. A plan that doesn’t add stress, fatigue or pressure to my life and allows me to be happy with whatever I can fit in on any given day. I call it my ‘W.H.A.T do I need Today’ Fitness plan. Here are my guidelines:
- Each week contains:
- 1 x strength based session: gym equipment or bodyweight – but something that you can measure progress in.
- 1 x Fitness based session: something that gets you puffed & warm ie Sprints, Boxing, HIT workout, a fitness class, challenging interval program on the bike/rower etc. It doesn’t have to go for long but you do need to be pushing your upper limits at some stage.
- 1 x mobility / movement based session: Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, even technique work for strength training could also fall into this category.
- A session can be from 3 minutes to 45 minutes duration.
- I aim for 4-6 ‘workouts’ per week
- 2 sessions in one day is ok – but in general I try not to go over 60 minutes in total duration
- Incidental activity wherever I can …. walk, play with kids, clean the house, take the stairs, ride a bike etc etc
Within these guidelines I don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s more important to enjoy and keep doing it than whether there is a particular order that is ‘most’ effective. The one exception: I wouldn’t recommend doing a fitness session on the same day after a big strength workout. That could increase the risk of injury due to muscle fatigue.
So some time in the morning, as I get an idea of how the day is going to flow and how my body is feeling…. That’s when I’m ready to create my W.H.A.T
W: When am I going to be able to fit a session in?
H: How am I going to train today? Strength, Fitness or mobility
A: At home or elsewhere?
T: Time allocated to session?
Once I’ve answered these questions it’s easier to commit to a workout. It helps with planning WHAT your workout will be since you know the environment and what equipment (if any) you will need or have on hand.
For me there is no point doing it any earlier than on the day. I just get frustrated when things change and I also don’t know how I’m going to feel on any given day. Slept badly and woke up with a sore neck? Not the day for a morning HIT workout. Up all night with a sick child? A rest day or some gentle yoga would do me more good than a hard core session. Deciding on the day allows me to be in touch with my body’s needs and there’s a higher chance I’ll complete the workout having planned with the most up to date information. I don’t have time or the energy to beat myself up over ‘failing’ to stick to a schedule.
Example: I don’t have any help with the kids and can’t get out of the house for the whole day. I would plan a 3 minute strength session some time in the afternoon when b1 & b2 are asleep. As many good pushups as I can followed by a “super-strong plank hold” for 10 seconds (more on this move down the track!) . Repeat 3 times. Simple, quiet and effective with no equipment required.
Example Two: I have a busy day with appointments and juggling the kids. Nothing is going to get done during the day and I take a 45 minute Zumba class at 7pm at the gym. I plan to do a 5-10 minute Kettlebell circuit straight after class before I head home. I know the when, I know the how, I know the where and I know how long so when I finish the class I don’t have to think about it. I just do.
So what do you think? Next post is on my approach to food but I will come back to this topic and provide sample workouts if there is interest (comment on website / Facebook). I’m lucky that coming up with workouts is easy for me. Working in a gym finally has a perk to it 😉
I’m biased, but I recommend that everyone commencing exercise or trying to get motivated invests in a good personal trainer – even just a couple of sessions to get taught proper exercise technique and perhaps even some short circuits you can do on your own (even at home). This was the motivation for our Short Course programs – rather than just getting flogged by a trainer, you come away with skills that you can use on your own forever after (AND get flogged by a trainer if that’s what you want!) That’s a damn good $39 investment. Kettlebells, Boxing, Strength Training are all great for short workouts and all available.