They say the best advice is often the hardest to take. Our ego and pride can stand in the way of what we really need to learn in order to reach our goals. This is especially the case when it comes to developing a fit body.
Below are 10 rules of fitness that were a bitter pill for me to swallow over the years. The good news is that once I got them down, my fitness potential exploded and life became a heck of a lot simpler.
Fitness Rule #1: Fitness is a simple game of cause and effect. You can make excuses, or hang your reason on whatever logic you like. At the end of the day, the human body simply accommodates the information it receives. If you’re not getting the effect you desire, then the cause simply isn’t there.
Fitness Rule #2: Mother Nature doesn’t care about your diet or exercise dogma.Many diet and exercise plans are based upon a theory or dogma about what we should be doing to stay in shape. Some say we humans are not meant to eat food that’s been cooked. Others are based upon the idea that we should only eat or workout at certain times of the day. As I mentioned in the last rule, fitness is a cause and effect deal. If you follow the laws Mother Nature, you will have the result you seek. All of the dogma and idealism is a product of human imagination and creativity. It’s not bad, but no dogma or ethos is more correct than the rules of Mother Nature.
Fitness Rule #3: You can’t out train a poor diet. You also can’t fix crappy training with super clean eating. Diet and exercise are two players on the same team. They both have different yet synergistic jobs to do. If your issues stem from a poor diet then nothing you do in the gym will help. At the same time, if your training is unfocused and inconsistent then no amount of nutritional discipline will make you a champion.
Fitness Rule #4: What you do outside of the gym has a bigger influence than what you do inside the gym. An hour workout hardly stands much chance against sitting at your desk for 9 stressful hours and spending 3-4 more hours sitting in a car or in front of the TV. Our body and mind were made to be active throughout the entire day, not just at a short clip once in a while. Peppering short physical activity breaks through the day can do wonders.
Fitness Rule #5: Your energy level rules all and is influenced by everything. Your energy level is the single most important aspect of your health and fitness. With energy you can do anything and do it much more easily. But with a low energy level your potential goes into a tail spin and everything becomes much harder to do.
What’s more, your energy level is influenced by everything in your life. From the thoughts in your head, to the websites you visit and even the pets you keep, everything is an influence. So be on the look outside of the diet and exercise box for other areas of your life that are either boosting or sucking your energy level downward.
Fitness Rule #6: No one cares about your fitness level or weight loss. As you read these words I’m willing to bet your parents are not wondering if you hit that PR in the gym. I’m pretty sure your best friend isn’t tracking your workout habits on her calendar. And I’m pretty sure I could gain 10 pounds of fat and lose 10 pounds of muscle and hardly anyone would notice.
It’s not that folks are mean or uncaring. It’s just that everyone else has their own distractions and issues in life that they need to deal with. But don’t be discouraged. Getting fit for your own intrinsic motivations or personal reasons is far more powerful and rewarding than getting fit to fulfill someone else’s ideal of what you should be.
This also goes for the haters who dislike your positive changes in lifestyle. Not everyone is going to be happy you’re getting lean and strong. Some people will feel uncomfortable about your success. Don’t let them drag you down. If they react negatively it’s because they have a long-term problem they buried deep down that you forced them to confront.
Fitness Rule #7: The quality of your exercise is far more important than the quantity. You do more good for your body doing 5 super focused pull ups than doing 100 sloppy ones. Remember it’s all about cause and effect. If the quality of the exercise isn’t there then the cause simply isn’t there no matter how many reps you do or hours you spend sweating away.
Fitness Rule #8: The quality of your exercise is 100% dependent upon your own focus and concentration. When you exercise, your mind is literally feeding your body instructions on how it should perform. In this way, your mind is responsible for the cause and your body is feeling the effect.
Your muscles are literally hard-wired to your mind via your nervous system. Whatever your mind says your muscles will do. If your mind is distracted and not focused, the message to your muscles is broken up like a call with bad cell phone reception. So be on the lookout for distractions and use anything you can do to hone your focus, be it music, a mantra you say or a little dance routine you do before every set.
Fitness Rule #9: There is no weight loss exercise. Every exercise, from running hills to juggling flaming kettlebells does one thing; it trains your body to be capable of that activity. Every change your body makes is to accommodate the functional demands of that activity. Unfortunately, there are almost no exercises that require your body to be leaner. Even if you would benefit from being leaner, like with pull ups, your muscles are being told they need to be stronger to lift the extra weight.
In other words, you can’t train for fat loss. You can train for balance, speed, strength, endurance, coordination and any other aspect of capability, but you can’t train skinny. Sure, you can burn lots of calories through activity and that can help with weight loss, but there’s no guarantee it will make you lean. If calories going in is the same as the calories going out then your fat levels will remain the same no matter what your workout program looks like.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend so much time and energy at the gym to stay lean. No more long cardio sessions and no more worrying about gaining weight because you don’t workout during your vacation.
Fitness Rule #10: No workout program will prepare you for everything. Life is certainly easier with a strong and fit body. That being said, no matter what you do there’s always going to be a gaps and holes in your capabilities.
No matter how much you bench you still may not be a very good boxer. You may be able to run for miles but struggle to hike up a mountain. Sure, there is carry over to many things with the basic exercises, but nothing can completely cover the infinite number of possibilities of life.
This is why it’s so important to figure out what physical capabilities are most important to you and to attack those with passion. If running is your thing then go after it and be the best you can. Who cares if you can’t do a decent snatch with a barbell? The same goes if the snatch is important to you but you couldn’t care less about improving your 5K time. Go after what’s important to you. Don’t worry about everyone else telling you that you’re not truly fit if you can’t fit within their standards.