4 Secrets for Stress-Free Fitness
Written by: Coach Slater
TLDR: Cook for yourself. Show up consistently. Move well. Move often. Move intensely. Move heavy weights. You don’t have to worry about anything else.
Your body is a machine and it functions best when fed the right fuels. By planning and cooking meals ahead of time, you’re setting yourself up for success because you’re more likely to avoid poor food choices when you have healthy options waiting for you. Realistically, meal prep only takes 1-2 hours to make a week’s worth of food. You telling me you really can’t find 2 hours ANYWHERE in your week to make some meals? How much Netflix are you watching? Can you do without 2 hours of that?
Meal planning not only saves time and money, but it also reduces stress – which is a hidden killer of your fitness gains. Notice that stiffness in your neck or nagging pain in your lower back that won’t go away? Your resting heart rate and breathing rate have been slowly increasing over time and your once deep breathing is now replaced by shallow breathing. Now your muscle tissues are constantly “on” or “showing tone”, instead of being relaxed, resulting in nagging pains. And this constant stress makes your cortisol levels rise which makes you retain body fat, and now your day-to-day life is as stressful as someone breaking into your home. At least, that’s what your body thinks. Fight back by meal planning to reduce a little stress in your life.
Movement Quality Over Quantity
First move well, then move often. You don’t need a certification in identifying functional movement patterns, or even understand what that means, to move well. Maybe you haven’t played a sport since you were a kid and you spend most of your adult life staring at a computer. That’s ok. Are there athletes in the gym you think move well? Emulate them. Watch the small details of what they do and try to move in a similar fashion. As a kid, you emulated all-star athletes, and maybe it didn’t lead to you dunking over Lebron, or catching that fade pass from Aaron Rodgers in the corner of the endzone, but it did make you move athletically.
And to further improve your movement, consider taking a weekly yoga class to work on moving better. Striving to move well during simple movements allows our bodies to progressively learn more complex movements. And moving well frequently across time allows our tissues and movement patterns to adapt. If you focus on moving well, the stress of what you’re doing can slip away. After you move well, then we progress to the next step…
The stronger you are, the faster your metabolism will be, and a faster metabolism leads to body-fat loss. Lifting heavy weights increases post-workout energy expenditure much more than steady-state “cardio”. Also, by lifting heavy weights, you provide your body a better stimulus to increase the size of your muscle cells which is the key for providing “shape” or “muscle tone” or “gainz”. So, lift heavy weights, which increases your lean muscle, which reduces your body fat, which allows you to showcase those sleek, sculpted muscles. As long as you strive to lift something that’s “heavy to you today”, then you don’t have to stress about percentages or sets/reps schemes.
Exertion Based Workouts
Our classes are programmed to allow for weekly/monthly/quarterly fluctuations in volume and intensity, but if you just want to be a little fitter and have fun, then don’t stress about whether your programming has all these special adjustments. Instead, just focus on moving well with heavy weights at whatever intensity you have to offer that day. On days where you feel like a 6 on a scale of 10, lift with a controlled effort. On days where you feel like a 9, push yourself.
But, strive to move with intensity. You will get remarkably leaner doing high-intensity interval work than low-intensity, slow, steady-state cardio. So, what about a typical WOD where you’re working and resting a little in between movements/reps? That counts. What about our strength work where you’re lifting something heavy then performing some additional accessory lifts before resting and repeating? Yep, that counts, too. What about going for a slow 15-min jog? Nope, doesn’t count. You’ll lose upwards of SIX TIMES more bodyfat from a 20min interval session than a 40min jog.
Stress: The Real Epidemic, Robertson, Mike
7 Benefits of Heavy Resistance Training, American Council on Exercise
Movement Principles, Cook, Gray
Interval Training – HIIT or Miss?, Boyle, Mike
Fit with HIIT, Pena, Jimmy