The Five Key Components to Fitness: Achieve Consistency & Longevity

Components of Fitness

A Key Balance in Key Aspects of Fitness for Success

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THE FIVE COMPONENTS OF FITNESS

There are five components to fitness that I feel are essential to being healthy and lean. Let's begin by covering those five factors and help you to understand why they are important. With this information you will be better able to create a program that works for you. It's important to realize that these components are designed to work alongside one another; one without the others will decidedly leave you short of achieving your fitness goals. However, if used in combination, they are deadly effective! The five components I feel are most important in achieving your goals are:

1. stretching

2. resistance training

3. cardiovascular exercise

4. diet / nutrition / supplementation

5. body composition

I will attempt to give you pieces of wisdom about each of these five that I believe will get you on your way. But first I'll ask that you be honest with yourself in assessing both your body and your present level of participation in the five components. It is essential that you always be honest - at least with yourself. That way you can troubleshoot problems and difficulties rather than avoid or deny them. Avoiding problem areas is the first step to fitness disaster. So let's get into the first of the five components and discuss its importance to your body.

STRETCHING

I feel that stretching the body is the first thing anyone should do upon stepping into the gym. Stretching could certainly be the subject of an entire article, given that its merits are extensive; however, for our purposes here I'm just going to list a few of the most important reasons why a person should stretch prior to doing any other activity.

Stretching allows your body to achieve a certain level of flexibility. The benefits of flexibility, as anyone who has trained will tell you, are vast. Being flexible allows your joints and muscles to move through an exercise at peak range of motion while minimizing the possibility of injury. When you can move in any direction freely, you are able to fully utilize your body's capabilities to build muscle, strength and endurance.

Stretching aids recuperation. Let's face it - recuperation is half of muscle growth. When you have less muscle and joint tissue injured, your body is free to build more muscle and recuperate at an accelerated rate.

Stretching also supplies nutrients to the joints because it increases the body's blood flow and nutrient transport system. When you are able to get the blood flowing to the muscles before bombarding them with resistance training, you are actually preparing them for a better workout. You'll find that, when you stretch prior to resistance exercises, you will see a big decrease in muscle soreness-that is, after you are accustomed to stretching!

RESISTANCE TRAINING

The benefits of resistance training are numerous. The body must have some form of it on a regular and consistent basis. The reason? Well, the main reason is that without lean muscle tissue your metabolism will not function as well as it should or could. More calories must be ingested to sustain lean tissue than fatty tissue. You can sustain fatty tissue at home on the couch, but your lean tissue will diminish if you don't dig in and do some resistance work. It also increases your muscle strength and endurance, which are manipulated through high- and low-rep training. And who could argue that lean tissue sitting taut and firm underneath your skin is attractive as well? If you're not sure what's under your skin, it may be time to get to the gym!

Resistance training can take the form of either free weights or machines. I like to utilize a combination of the two for my clients because every client is at a different level of fitness. In addition, a client may be inordinately fatigued one day and not the next, so I like to give him or her a choice. In today's fitness industry there are a lot of machines that actually rival free weights in their overall effectiveness.

By utilizing the many resistance machines out there today, you can be virtually injury free if the movements are done correctly. You may get more out of the exercise because the machine has been designed to take you through a complete range of motion. Unlike free weights, machines enable you to use correct form and choose a great many variances in the amount of weight used. Of course, the problem with machines is that they may vary in real weight. If you were using a certain type of seated row machine in your gym and then went to another gym and decided to use the same type of machine there, you might injure yourself by assuming that the weights would be the same. Well, they may not be, sadly. But the good news is that there are so many innovative machines in gyms and fitness facilities today that it's almost impossible to get a lousy workout if your heart, body and mind are prepared.

Free weights are usually associated with a more advanced level of fitness and ability, but not necessarily so. All levels of ability and fitness can benefit from free-weight training. However, it is important to have a little strength and endurance built up prior to embarking on a free-weight program to ensure that you are able to use proper form and obtain a full range of motion. In order to extract the most benefit from free weights, you must have adequate ability to control the weight at all times and the balance to carry out the repetitions. Get good form down first before moving your program to free weights. I see a lot of successful athletes who, because they are genetically gifted, have been able to attain a spot at him top without implementing good form in their workouts. Even they could be so much more than they are if only they went back to basics and corrected their form.

Besides building a good solid metabolism and building your strength and endurance, resistance training is the only way I know that you can somewhat adjust your genetic shape and even out flaws that you inherited from your family tree. You aren't a slave to your genetics. You can effect a certain amount of change. But be realistic too. If you're not Arnold Schwarzenegger, be satisfied with who you are and what you can do.

CARDIOVASCULAR / AEROBIC EXERCISE

Implementing a consistent cardiovascular (aerobic) program into your fitness schedule is very important and can be the key to losing unwanted bodyfat. If you were just to do aerobic activity without any resistance training, your lean muscle tissue would diminish rapidly... and you don't want that! One without the other almost cancels everything out. You may see scale weight loss, but it will probably be more muscle than fat. It's kind can do aerobics until you're blue in the face, and they will essentially become byproducts of wasted effort. I see so many people in the gym training their hearts out and doing aerobics - and doing these consistently - but because I see what they're eating at a local restaurant, I know they are not changing... and that's evident. We all have our weaknesses. Perhaps it's sweets, or starchy carbohydrates, or just plain overeating, but in order to effect change in appearance, you must be willing to consistently follow a good, healthful diet. That's for muscle growth or weight loss, or both!

When you don't eat right, you end up burning precious lean tissue that allowed you to eat what you do to begin with, Each time you eat poorly, you are losing muscle tissue and decreasing your ability to eat those foods and get away with it, In essence you are writing checks that your body can't cash. Eventually, after years of careless eating, you'll not only be heavy, but you'll also be eating like a sparrow just to maintain your high weight and not go any higher. Plus your body will be less likely to put on any additional muscle tissue. So why are you working out at all if you don't eat correctly?

You must make a commitment to eating healthfully and correctly. Try not to think of it as a chore but as a way to feed your body and control it to do what you want it to do at any given time.

I tell my clients that they need a certain number of calories in order to carry out their workouts, and I design a program for them based on their lifestyle and body composition. I use a modification of the Apex system on my clients, but I drop out some of the carbohydrates because most people are carb sensitive and cannot assimilate the 65 percent carbs that most diets recommend. Weight loss is slow or nonexistent with an abundance of carbs in the diet.

Supplements are important too, especially for active people. You must supplement your diet with a good multi-vitamin and mineral pak, as well as branched-chain amino acids for recuperation. I don't recommend any particular brand of supplements as this is an individual decision. I try to show my clients three or four types of supplements and let them go from there, What I am really more focused on is teaching what and how to eat. I attempt to illustrate how to get as many nutrients from food as possible. This is the key to growth and change.

Varying your diet is important as it allows you the comfort of variety. Because it continually changes, your body never becomes wise to what you are doing and is able to change rather than developing a tolerance to specific foods, I construct a daily diet with six different meals, and then we go through the diet together after six weeks to weed out the foods that they dislike, In this way you are never allowing the body to become accustomed to the fare you feed it.

BODY COMPOSITION

The term body composition relates to the amount of lean tissue and fatty deposits you have in your body. These factors are assessed prior to and all throughout your exercise program. It's important to constantly measure them in order to reevaluate what you are trying to achieve.

I normally use Skindex to determine what percentage of bodyfat individuals are carrying prior to working with them. Of course, this first reading allows me to look at their goals and my own as a trainer in combination so that we can effect change via a workable program. Next we try to figure out how they metabolize foods and what is necessary to reach their goals.

Knowing the body's composition at all times is the only true way that you can adjust your program to suit the needs of the moment. As your body changes, so do a lot of the requirements. Your calories go up with an increase in lean mass and a decrease in bodyfat, and your ability to perform resistance exercises and the weight you use change constantly. It's crucial that you be equipped with this knowledge so that adjustment and further improvement are possible.

If you're trying to achieve the ultimate body, these are the five components to lead you on your path toward success, I hope I have amply explained how and why each of these five aspects is important. Really they are but cogs in a wheel of transport. Following one without the others is a futile pursuit. Transport yourself toward fitness each day by being mindful of implementing the five components. And remember… the key to any goal is consistency and longevity.




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