Knowing the basics of health and fitness is an important life skill. Health is the most important good that we have, after all. In my view this should actually be taught in schools more. If you understand these fundamentals, you should be able to build and follow a basic fitness routine yourself. Especially if you are a personal trainer, the programming for your clients should go beyond just exercise routines. You should be able to include holistic aspects such as the right nutrition for the right objective and the appropriate recovery technique for the right moment.
In this article I will go over fitness basics and also introduce my new e-learning course. In this course we teach all the details of the various aspects of a holistic fitness concept and cover theory as well as putting this knowledge into action.
Learn How To Build Health and Training Routines: New Online Fitness Courses
Independent of your fitness level (or that of your clients), understanding the basics of health and fitness is key for all to create and follow an effective routine that delivers results. Thankfully today we have access to a vast amount of knowledge at our fingertips: the internet.
The internet, however, is a blessing and a curse at the same time. It offers us a wealth of information but a lot of it is just really bad, unhelpful or follows certain agendas. A lot of sources are unreliable or just plain rubbish. It can be difficult at times to find the most appropriate info to create a fitness program that helps you achieve your goals.
That is exactly why I synthesized the info and published it in my book “From Healthy to Athletic: How to Master the 4 Ingredients to Superior Fitness.” Now I take this idea one step further and offer more content in the form of a series of online fitness courses.
These courses are a great resource for self-help. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic where people are confined at home and are bored and concerned about health, offering advice about how to create effective fitness plans is very useful.
The courses are self-contained and offer all you need. However, in order to really fine-tune a health regime, I recommend getting feedback from experienced coaches. On the other hand, if you would like to skip all of that and instead get a ready-made plan that's customized for your objectives, then check out my Build Bullet-Proof Health program.
Build the Foundation for Bullet-Proof Health: The 4 Legs of Fitness
Health and fitness is more than just doing a bunch of different exercises. Everything we do and offer is based on the concept of the 4 legs of fitness. This concept covers the following four essential areas. We call it the "4 legs" because just like a chair gets unstable if a leg is shorter or missing, we also need to keep the four areas of fitness balanced.
The first leg is about strength workouts. We need strength not only for athletic performance but also for elements of your everyday life like improving posture. Strength training (also referred to as resistance training) can be executed in many different variations. Different muscle groups can be stimulated in different ways by choosing an appropriate scheme of sets and repetitions.
The spectrum can cover full body workouts or splits into upper body and lower body exercise routines. Some excellent full body exercises (also called compound exercises) include deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, bench presses, pushups, pullups, lunges or bent-over rows.
The second leg addresses improving your cardiovascular system. You can achieve this with aerobic exercises that elevate your heart rate and aim at increasing endurance. Typical exercises include running, cycling, swimming or walking.
There are two main types of cardio training:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT protocols typically suggest a short amount of time but at a very high intensity. A typical sequence (called "tabata") is 20 seconds of hardcore work, followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds. Popular fat burning HIIT exercises include mountain climbers or burpees.
- Low-intensity steady state (LISS) training: LISS in a way is the opposite of HIIT. You execute LISS protocols at a low heart rate but for an extended amount of time. A perfect example is a brisk 30-minute walk outdoors, maybe as part of a morning routine.
The third leg is all about nutrition and is probably the most effective of the four legs. Nutrition is so powerful. And it is clear: What you put into your body is what you will get out.
It is crucial that your diet is aligned with your goals. Fat loss is the most typical goal but is not the only one. Meal plans will look very different if someone aims for fat loss, strength gain or hypertrophy.
One concept that is true for all is that you need to determine your caloric need relative to your goal. This is referred to as the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). It is a fancy way to say that you need to balance the calories that go into your body vs. the calories that you burn.
The next variable that you need to consider then within your TDEE is the macro split. This decides how much protein, carbohydrates and fats you consume daily. Also this split is highly individual and depends on your goals and genetic composition.
We cover all this in great detail in the online course. We also go over the role of supplements (especially creatine, protein powder, omega-3 or magnesium), the power of foods for healing, and the anti-inflammatory benefits of recovery.
The fourth leg is about recovery and an area that is overlooked in most fitness or workout plans. Introducing a rest day is not enough. To create superior health and fitness we need to actively work on recovery.
Muscles are repaired and fitness is created during recovery. The most effective mechanism to achieve this is sleep. Getting the right quantity and especially quality of sleep is paramount. Sleep is known to reduce cortisol (the hormone that is responsible for our stress levels) and improves protein synthesis (the repairing of muscle tissue that we broke during exercise). In the course we cover a lot about how to improve sleep quality to impact our fitness levels.
Other recovery techniques include: massages, stretching, sauna, meditation, cold exposure like cold showers, foam rolling, breathing exercises (we especially like the Wim Hof method), flossing (not your teeth!), certain recovery foods, mobility/yoga or dry needling.
Essential Principles To Achieve Fitness Goals
In addition to the key areas of fitness (the 4 legs) there is also a set of essential principles for achieving health and fitness goals. I follow these myself and always recommend them to my clients, too. I wrote about these principles in more detail in my article about the revolution in the fitness industry. I provide a short recap here.
- There are no secrets. Too often “magic” or “secret” exercises or supplements are promoted. It's not working. We cannot trick nature. Just stick to the basics and be consistent.
- Know your goal. This is really important and the starting point. Know what you want to achieve. Your program will look very different if you aim for weight loss, better overall health, more strength, or more muscle mass.
- Stay consistent. Superior health and fitness will not come overnight. You need to stick to your plan. For at least half a year.
- Understand your nutritional needs. You need to understand the importance of the calorie-in vs. calorie-out (CICO) concept relative to your goal. Based on that you need to determine your macro split and stick to it.
- Progress by overloading. Our bodies continuously adapt. So, we need to give them new stimuli continuously, too. We achieve this by increasing our training intensity every time, e.g., by increasing the number of sets or reps, upping weight or reducing rest time.
- Increase your daily energy expenditure. We can easily increase the amount of calories we burn by changing some habits like taking the stairs instead of the lift or using your bicycle instead of your car.
- Work hard and prioritize your health and fitness. In case of doubt, prioritize your exercise and nutrition over other activities — at least most of the time.
- Measure your progress. You can only manage what you measure. Make sure that you have some sort of mechanism of logging your activities and results.
- Make it work for you. There is so much stuff out there. But health and fitness is individual. The best fitness plan is the one you can consistently stick to and it feels easy because you like it.
In our online health and fitness course we show how to combine the 4 legs of fitness and the essential principles to create fitness plans that deliver results.
Achieve Superior Health & Fitness Online Courses
We host our series of the Achieve Superior Health & Fitness Online Courses on Teachable. The series consists of several parts. The first course starts high-level by introducing the principles and foundational ideas of health, nutrition and workout routines. Part two dives into more details and explains some of the theory. In part three we show what that all means in practice and show how to actually build a health and fitness routine for you or your clients.
Course 1: Understand and Leverage the Key Areas of Fitness To Improve Your Performance
In the first course we cover the key areas of fitness as introduced above. For that we leverage the 4 legs of fitness model. The course addresses the importance of the 4 legs (strength, cardio, nutrition, recovery) by themselves but even more as an integrated whole to deliver a holistic fitness program.
Course 2: The Principles of Setting Up a Comprehensive Fitness and Health Regime
In the second course we extend the idea of the 4 legs of fitness and discuss the main principles required for setting up a fitness and health regime that includes not only exercise plans but also nutrition and recovery techniques.
Course 3: Knowledge Into Action: How To Practically Set Up a Fitness and Health Program
In the third course we take everything that we said in courses one and two and make it practically executable. We show strength training plans that cover all major muscle groups and corresponding sets and reps protocols. We present cardio programs that fit in perfectly to support a chosen objective. We present body composition calculations, energy or calorie need calculators and best practice recommendations about how to monitor and make sure to stay on track to achieve the objective.
An Effective Fitness Plan Is More Than Just a Workout Program
Our health is the most important good. Everybody should at least know the basics of the key aspects of health and fitness, which is one of the reasons why I created 4legsfitness.com in the first place.
In my new series of the Achieve Superior Health & Fitness Online Courses I explain in detail how the four areas of fitness and some essential fitness principles can be combined to create a holistic program that delivers results. Use this knowledge to create the best workout possible for you (or your clients) to achieve your health and fitness goals and live a happy life.
For more details, head over to our online fitness courses. The Fitness Foundations course is entirely free.
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