Usually when we get into fitness regimens we do so with some kind of purpose. Unless this purpose is to get better at this particular activity, it can often lead us to question what particular activity would be best for us. I’ve been there. I’ve trued going to the gym, running, swimming, lots of things to help me loose that backback on the front. The fact is that as long as it is an activity that exerts you it does not really matter what you do, you will get leaner in time. The most important aspect is consistency and for consistency there is one single thing that matter – do you enjoy this activity or not? If this activity makes you smile you will return to it in a couple of days, next week and next month. For me, this is bodyweight training. Going to the gym cannot compare with the fun (and results) I get out of doing some bodyweight calisthenics at home. And I’m seeing great results too. It needs to be progressive though, in other words get harder as you get strong. There is a book called Convict Conditioning which has very good explanations for these progressions for 6 major exercises. So far I can do 5 of them, not strong enough in my back to get up to a handstand.
So whatever activity you do make sure you enjoy it with a smile. That said we should try to do activities from a few different areas. There are 5 areas really: strength-, endurance-, cardiovascular respiratory-, flexibility- and what is known as neurological training or simply neuro training. I will be discussing my views of these in some following posts from material I have taken in so for now let us just focus on the first three. First off I do not necessarily obsess over the difference between strength and endurance. Yes, the standard view is that strength is built when you lift a weight no more than 6 times and the more you do above that is endurance training. I believe it’s true definitely, but not set in stone. Say a guy could do 6 one-arm pull-ups and he were to increase this to 15 one-arm pull-ups – is he just building endurance? I don’t think so, that is a massive Strength movement. In fact, the two are inseparably linked. Especially in progressivist bodyweight training that is based on a double progression. Since you cannot just increase your weight by adding 5 kilos, you increase the weight a LOT by changing the exercise a bit so you must work a lot at the range known as “endurance”, but of course it builds strength as well. If you cannot do 20 full pushups, the chances of you being able to do 10 repetitions of the next progression is slim.
So what about cardio, is it important? Yes. It is vital that you enjoy the activities, but the benefits from training differs a lot between “weights” and “cardio” activities and they are benefits we all sorely need so it is important that we get some mix of both. It does not need to take a lot of time either. I take 30-40 minutes ever second day to do calisthenics and the days in between I go for a bikeride (pacer recommended so you can objectively measure how you are doing, they are pretty cheap and sold at good bike shops). I’ve ended up doing this for about 6-7 days/week for the past couple of weeks (before I biked every day, which did not give enough recovery) which works very well for me. So to answer the question of which comes first, it doesn’t matter. Start with one activity to get the ball going. Once you have adapted to this activity so it is easier for you to do it than not then add the other type of activity. Always make sure it is one you enjoy. I find cycling a lot more enjoyable than running and it is low-impact so I can do it more often and a lot easier to perform if you are not lightweight. But if you enjoy running more and is fit enough to do it – go for it. Do the activities you enjoy with a smile and you will see improvements. We are in this for the long haul. Just as we did not get to where we are today in one day of not working out it will take a couple of years to become truly fit, but we will see some improvements along the way. It’s just important to bear this in mind and not get sucked into the short-term perspective that is so prevalent in our society.
Going to head out for a 14k bikeride after I finnish my water now. Have a great day 🙂