What does being fit mean?
We tend to look at professional sportsmen when we try to define "being fit". Unfortunately,t while their own type of "fitness" is good for their particular sport, it is not useful way to define fitness for the bulk of the population.
Mo Farrow can keep running for hours but he could never beat Usain Bolt over 100mtrs. Chris Froome has impressive heart, lungs and legs but, in common with other top cyclists, goes to great lengths to avoid building upper body muscle which is just dead weight on a bike,
Olympic weight lifters can generate enormous amounts of force for two perhaps three seconds but would struggle to match the power of a gymnast who can produce slightly less power but can keep doing it for several minutes and can also demonstrate phenomenal flexibility and balance.
Fit for life
Top professional athletes must trade off different elements of fitness to reach the pinnacle of their sport but most of us mere mortals will benefit most from a good balance of the different elements of fitness.
Even those who continue to compete at national age group level benefit by maintaining such a balance; it tends to protect against injury and, perhaps surprisingly, illness.
Elements of fitness
Fitness involves all the body's systems; cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nerves, endocrine and brain being the main contributors.
We are seeking to get a balance between:
- Strength (force)
- Power (work rate)
- Muscular endurance
- Cardiovascular strength
- Cardiovascular endurance
as well as ensuring we are not carrying excess weight, too much cholesterol in the blood, too few if the right vitamins & minerals and have a healthy immune system.
And while we do all this ensuring that we get sufficient sleep and a healthy mind.
Complex Systems, Simple Solutions
All our body's systems are obviously linked, with complex interactions and their development is also a complex process. However, it is reasonably straight forward to make the development happen providing we follow some simple rules, understand what is going on and apply that knowledge consistently.
Principles of Training
The underlying principle is to push the body a little further than is comfortable which induces it to adapt; run a little further or faster today, lift a little more, stretch a little further and tomorrow (or a day or so later depending on your age) and you will be able to do it easily.
The different systems require different approaches and even within systems, there are subtle differences. For example:
- To develop additional muscle you should lift close to the maximum that you can repeat 2 - 3 times without a rest
- To develop the maximum strength of that muscle you should aim to lift as much as you can repeat about 6 times
- To develop the endurance of the muscle 12 - 15 repetitions.
If you follow one of our programs you will be doing a carefully thought through series of sessions designed to fit with your particular goals.
Being the right weight, having the foods that give you the right nutrients and enjoying it are also essential aspects of fitness.
Being over or underweight makes day to day activities harder; it affects posture, mood and energy levels. It puts a strain on joints and muscles and makes you prone to a whole series of medical conditions.
If you're not fueling the body properly you'll lack energy, you'll not be able to exercise effectively and your body will not have the nutrients to make the adaptations your exercise is designed to produce. Added to that it will affect your mood which affects the way you behave.
And if you're not enjoying your food you'll not stick to any diet sold to you by the diet industry - or the latest fad pushed by the newspapers of magazines.
Which is why our programmes include sensible guidance on nutrition.
The Right Mindset - not will-power
If you're not enjoying it you won't do it. It's not really a question of will power! Evolution developed systems in the body that make us feel good when we do the right things to sustain the body.
The reason we feel pain and pleasure, discomfort and satisfaction is that these sensations are designed to drive us to behave in ways that are good for us. So when we don't get the right feelings we have to fight the urge to stop. And eventually the feelings will win.
The key is to change the way your mind behaves.