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30 May 2013

What is Fitness?

If you were to ask ten people exactly what is fitness, I am sure that you will receive ten totally different answers.

In you own mind can you define what you mean by ‘fitness’?

Is your definition of being fit the same as the person next to you?

There are several components that can and do make up fitness. You could look at cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility, stability and mental fitness. Each of these components will be more important to you depending on what you are trying to achieve and how you define fitness in your own mind.

So how do you define fitness?

It will depend upon what you do, what are your current strengths and what you are looking to achieve next.
If you are a runner, then you will define and measure fitness by your ability to run, how fast you can run and most likely how you feel when you are running. If you are a swimmer then you will define and measure your fitness by how fast you can swim, how far you can swim and how efficient you are at swimming.

Even if you are a sprinter compared to a long distance runner, that is a big difference.

If a runner decided to take up swimming and didn’t have a strong swimming background then they would quickly find that they are not very fit for that specific activity. I can speak from experience about this one. I have always been a pretty good runner and not too bad on the bike, so I thought I’d take up triathlons for a new challenge. After being last out of the water on the swim leg on many occasions and spending the rest of the bike and run overtaking people I decided to really work on my swimming. I was fit for the bike and run, but my swim fitness was, well let’s just say average to keep it polite.

It comes down to how you measure and judge fitness and what is important to you.

For someone, fitness may be measured by running for the bus and not getting out of breath. For another it may be walking up a flight of stairs and making it. And for someone else it may be finishing an Ironman in under 9 hours. It comes down to firstly, how you define fitness and secondly, how you measure it.

So look at yourself and determine what components of fitness are important for you. Write a list of all of these components, prioritise them in order of importance and then determine what will be the best type of exercise done in the correct manner to achieve this specific fitness that you desire.

Next work out how you are going to measure your progress. It may be to run for that bus, or it may be to compete in a certain sport without getting injured and to achieve a certain performance based goal. Work out what you will be happy with achieving for your specific fitness component.

In some cases there may be many different components that you would like to improve at a certain time. For example a footballer may want to develop more lateral speed, improve acceleration over five metres and also increase the strength through their core. It would be a matter of prioritising what is most important and then working all of these components to get the desired result.

Some components work well with each other and some are hard to develop at the same time. For example it is hard to train someone as a sprinter and also train them to complete a marathon. They are two very different components and each deserve to be addressed at different times. It all comes down to prioritising your goals.

With all of your training always have you end goal in mind. Keep this clear image in your head about why you are doing exercise in the first place. Always be clear of exactly what you are trying to achieve and this will help you get there a lot quicker.


23 May 2013

Why Do You Exercise?

Have you ever sat down and thought exactly why you exercise?

Have you thought very specifically, what are you trying to achieve this year, this month, this week? Even down to each individual exercise session?

Just what is your reason for exercising?

For some of you it may be just to shift a few pounds. Or for others it may be to set a new personal record for your marathon, or to complete an Ironman.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, you need to be clear on the exact outcome of your training.

This comes from having a clear and precise goal in mind when starting out any exercise and lifestyle change. What is it that you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve it? With any goal setting the more specific you are, the more likely you are of achieving it.

Use the SMART goal approach:

Specific – make it as specific as possible. Don’t say ‘I want to lose a couple of pounds’, say ‘I want to lose 5 pounds!’.

Measurable – Like the above example, make sure that you measure the outcome. For example ‘I want to run a 10km race in 42 minutes’. That way you will know when you have achieved it.

Achievable – Make sure the goal you are setting for yourself is one that you can achieve with a little hard work.

Realistic – Think about the goal and be honest with yourself. Unrealistic goals just set yourself up to fail. There is no point in setting a new world record for a marathon in six weeks time if you have never run before.

Time-frame – Set yourself a specific time to achieve the goal by. For example, ‘I will lose 10 pounds by 10th November’. This is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and it has a specific Time-frame attached to it.

So now that you have a goal in mind, it is time to make a plan. If you have the knowledge to do so then write it out and set it into motion. If you don’t have the knowledge in exercise or nutrition then find someone that does to help you with this. You wouldn’t lift the bonnet of your car and try to fix it without good mechanical knowledge, or start to build a house without having any idea where to start. So find someone with the knowledge and experience to help you to achieve your goals.

Once you have the plan in place, go for it. However, always keep the end goal in mind…the reason for exercising.

You always need to be clear about your reason for exercising in the first place, your overall goal.
Also we can break this down again by asking ‘what are you trying to achieve this week?’… the outcome from your week of training. You may be going through a specific phase of training, strength, power or tapering before an event. You need to have a specific desired result from a week of training.

You can then break this down even further. Every exercise session must have a specific focus on what you are trying to achieve. What is the outcome? What do you hope to get out of this individual training session?

Even with each exercise think what you are trying to achieve by doing this exercise? Each exercise can be done in many different ways to achieve your outcome…. so you must be clear of exactly what outcome you are trying to achieve.

Can you then break this down even further? Absolutely!
Nearly every exercise can be broken down to achieve stability, strength, power, endurance, and even size. You just need to manipulate the variables to achieve the result that want. You can alter speed, intensity, sets, repetitions, rest, time under tension, technique to produce a multitude of responses. Just be always clear in your mind the exact response that you are looking for and consult an expert to get the best response possible for your training goals. What are you trying to achieve?

So if you are just starting an exercise and lifestyle change, or you have been drifting through your training and need to re-focus, just think about your overall purpose for exercising in the first place. Why do you do it? What are you trying to achieve? What is the purpose of it all? Once this is clear in your mind, keep it there and you will find it easier to progress closer to your goal in a shorter period of time.

If you are looking for experts to help you get there quicker, contact us and we will help you to get there.