Let’s face it, no matter how you try to pitch it to people, fitness is a pain in the ass (if you’re training correctly, it will literally make your glutius maximas hurt). No amount of obnoxious fitness memes will change your mind about that; NO, looking good does not beat a delicious cupcake, I CAN find something better to do with 30 minutes a day instead of sweating my brains out, and I think that smiling, skinny chick in a bikini needs to eat a sandwich.
Now, this view is definitely not shared by the majority of fitness professionals, but that may be one of the reasons I came up with the term “Unconventional Training” in the first place.
To me, fitness is a long term project that never ends, and for that reason, I don’t think extreme goals are realistic. If you’re not going to maintain a diet or training regimen for more than a couple weeks, what’s the point? You might as well stay the course and save yourself the time, money, and energy that you would have spent on some crazy fad diet or unsustainable workout program.
With that said, it is possible to gradually get into better shape, enhance your functional performance, and generally live a healthier life. Here are three ways you can attain a fitness goal that has been unattainable to this date:
1) Start Small
When people get fired up to get in shape (New Year’s resolutions, upcoming wedding, summer, etc.), they usually do something I call “Fitness Binging.”
A Fitness Binge is when you unrealistically cut your calorie consumption while simultaneously increasing your workout time by 10,000%.
This inevitably leads to rapid exhaustion and disappointment as starvation, soreness, and a lack of instant results make you quit.
Starting small on your fitness goals is a much more realistic way to get moving. Instead of spending an hour in the gym right off the bat, why not try a short hike or walk around the block? When that gets easy, add in two sets of ten Bodyweight Squats and Push Ups. When that gets too easy, add more exercises or weights and so on. No need for some crazy “Get Ripped in 30 Days” program; the truth is, you’re probably not ready for that yet. When you are ready, make sure you get a solid workout plan.
On the diet side, cutting out just a few items and adding a others will make a huge difference. If you skip breakfast, start eating an apple when you wake up. If you eat out everyday, start eating out every other day and opt for a homemade lunch or dinner instead. I would go so far as to say if you drink regular whatever, switch to diet (most fitness professionals will be aghast that I would say something like that, but again, I’m unconventional). Just do one thing right and you can always progress from there.
2) Split Up Your Workouts
There’s a popular term in Unconventional Training called Greasing the Groove (GtG). It was originally coined by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book Power to the People. The workout concept is perform a particular exercise (usually a difficult one or one using heavy weight) and perform it frequently throughout the day without hitting fatigue during any given attempt.
This, incidentally, IS a pain in the ass and I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you’re just getting started.
I would recommend using the concept combined with short, easy exercises rather than difficult ones. Set a timer and try to do 10 Push Ups, Sit Ups, Bodyweight Squats, Lunges, etc. every time it goes off. When you start, try to do 3 to 5 sets throughout the day. Once you start doing 10 sets without an issue, increase the reps, add weight, or perform more challenging exercises.
This works especially well if you don’t have time to get an actual workout in. Depending on the exercise, you could realistically do it at your job in your work clothes if you have to. Rather than having that guilt of not making it to the gym (again), you will be happy knowing that you did something to improve your fitness.
3) Be Good MOST of the Time
I’ll be the first one to admit that fitness professionals can be a little intense about diet and exercise. When you truly commit yourself to improving your health and performance, it’s hard not to progress to the point where you actually enjoy being sore, sweaty, out of breath, and generally feeling like you’re going to die after a workout (sounds crazy, but it’s true).
Getting hardcore about fitness is great… if it’s your job.
For most people, it’s not your job! All you want to do is invest the minimum amount of time and effort to get some results, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve always said that it’s not how hard you work one time, it’s about how consistent you work over the long term. When you look at it like that, as long as you are consistent, you don’t have to be perfect all of the time.
No, you shouldn’t be having beer, chips, and dip everyday, but going crazy one BBQ a month isn’t going to ruin all of your effort. Missing a workout day every couple weeks won’t destroy your gains and having a piece of birthday cake at your niece’s first big day isn’t going to offset your diet very much on the whole. Work at being good 90% of the time and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more functional body.