Redefining fitness your way…
This is an excerpt from the ubiquitous Wikipedia on the definition of “physical fitness”. Being physically as strong and conditioned as possible is an innate quality for all beings walking on the surface of earth. Darwinian theory of “survival of the fittest” is much attuned to the fact, where, in the world fraught with adversities, only the strongest survive. Be fit to survive or succumb to the inevitable period.
Man is a composite biological, psychological and a social being and along the evolutionary path he evolved intellectually and physically. The early humans who walked the earth were chiefly Physical. Physical conditioning was an indispensable trait that early human had to possess; a trait which unquestionably was a basic necessity for his survival.
With time, as man evolved as an intellectual being, emphasis on Physical conditioning took a downward curve in the overall scheme of things, but nonetheless was still a predominant attribute since it was still a survival skill till perhaps the dawn of Industrial revolution. In the absence of medical care that we have today, it was imminent that early humans were in the pink of health.
We can construe that the fitness modalities also must have evolved along with the advancing times although not structured. The cave dwelling primitive human’s activities were mostly physical. The cave dwelling man required a gamut of skills like sprinting, climbing, lifting heavy stones etc. Put in a fitness parlance, he had to maintain an elite physical strength and conditioning to support the hunter gatherer lifestyle. His lifestyle endowed him with a functional physique where he was equipped with powerful legs, arms, core, back etc. He had to endure the vicissitudes of environs he had to put up with and adapting to the vagaries, his physical life style adaptations had to happen to sustain the hard ships that life posed.
Treading along the evolutionary trails, and as people stopped to be hunter-gatherers and formed societies and became inhabitants, they started to grow their own food and seldom hunt. Thence began the era of stored food concept. Farming brought in a diversification into the physical skills that a societal man needed. The physical skills needed for farming and overall to lead a social life posed a different demand and hence different physical skill adaption. Consequently, the body had to adapt to the changing stimulus to adapt to the change in physical chores. The farming man need not have to had the brutal strength of his ancestors who would have had to combat with wild animals, bring down big trees, lift heavy stones etc. His physical activities were primarily restricted to growing food, raising and tending cattle etc. Though his activities were still mostly physical, the demand that the farming lifestyle and the impetus they provided were completely different from what his predecessors had. The functional body which was adept at running, sprinting, jumping, hunting etc gradually changed to a functional body adept at farming skills.
Then started the commencement of medieval times which were societal and the annals of history is replete with accounts on the rise and fall of many powerful empires. The colonialism nature of empires had to give the prime most importance for military. The warriors had to maintain strength and conditioning of their bodies in preparation for wars! As we can see, an once survival trait became a attribute for a certain coterie and practiced by a posse involved in warfare. Soldiers had to undergo intense physical training to thrive during conflicts. They had to be adept in skills which not only involved strength and conditioning, but also skillful in warfare and handling combat weaponry. Their physical training had to encompass all these attributes. Hence apart from the regular conditioning and strength workouts, their training had to include martial arts, weapon mastery etc.
Gradually, physical training, a once basic survival necessity transmuted into a discipline required and practiced by a few people in the society.
Modernization has metamorphosed human into a mental being. The present information age has made man a slave of his own wonderful inventions and gadgetry. The modern man is stuck in a “success” quagmire where “success” is defined based on his IQ, his position, his cars etc which inherently means he has to be groomed to become a money-making machine even at the expense of his health both physical and emotional. Inadvertently, this stressful lifestyle breeds many lifestyle related disorders but that is a topic which requires its own discussion. The modern-day physical conditioning is limited to within the ambit of Gymnasiums for the serious sports athletes and the health conscious few.
Now let us enter the realm of fitness and having a background view on fitness evolution, let us sink our tooth into talking about fitness. I think we all agree to the fact that physical fitness must be seen as a seamless adaptation rather than as a gospel. This is the reason why there are several kinds of training modalities mushrooming and many of them have stood a testament of time and they do live up to the promises. Ever heard of “caveman” workout, animal flows etc? Evidently, the regimens are built upon the knowledge passed on to generations by our ancestors. There is a slew of different techniques sprouting every day with each training regimen tailored towards certain specific goals. What this means is that fitness as a whole can be defined and tailored as one can warrant and is limited only by your own creativity.
REDEFINE FITNESS YOUR WAY!!.
The basic presumption in this write up is that the aspirant is a little seasoned and the experience and knowledge he has honed serves as a platform over which he can redefine or restructure. We see this a lot happening with advanced fitness related people where they tune the training and come up with innovative methods which result in defined modalities. That’s where the different training cults originated!!
The intention of this article is not to sow you a new training cult. Far from it, I intend to discuss how to make your workouts a little more demanding and get the max returns by slight informed modifications. Of course, there are limitless possibilities, you are just limited by your creativity. I am jotting my thoughts here but I am sure that seasoned fitness proponents reading this can concoct many better workouts than that is presented here.
For instance, by mixing planned and off-the-cuff routines, we can take up our workout to the next level. Let’s consider the day where we target cardio-vascular fitness. Assume we start with a gamut of routines like cycling, running, sprinting etc. Basically, the emphasis is on the cardio conditioning. Remember, the intent here is to get us to next level of conditioning. Just listen to your body and ponder for a moment of what impromptu exercises you can still jostle up? For example, your upper body is still fresh and you feel mustering up a few sets of muscular conditioning workouts is still a possibility. Immediately resort to a 5X5 push-up/pull-up routines and end with a 1-minute shadow boxing finishing it strongly. Your common sense is your best friend. This has a two-pronged advantage — you challenged yourself mentally while taking up the conditioning workout a notch thereby improvising. I am sure this helps us beat the much detested plateau that many of us get stuck with. Importantly, we need to be constantly listening to our body and should know when to put the brakes or know if certain modalities you designed may not be working optimally.
Variety is the spice of life and this is true for every walks of life. So intelligently concocting various training modalities in a planned way with a little of extemporary mix is going to spice up the routines and save us from boredom. Another example, animal flow is the new kid on the block and I personally feel it lives up to its reputation. Mixing intervening days with the flows or sprucing up your regular workout with flows on the same day is going to be challenging while imposing a greater stimuli and hence greater adaptation. By careful planning and challenging ourselves we can become better athletes akin to our ancestors!! What better way is there in the world than beating our personal best!! Here are some workouts regimens to start with which can help spruce up your workout. Adding different training regimes to the mix is going to leave a plethora of combinations in the training repertoire that you plan.
I am not a seasoned fitness coach nor do I claim to be very knowledgeable in this field, but I am definitely a serious training enthusiast. The sample routines listed below have worked for me and people I know.
1) HIIT on a punching bag (30 secs all out punch X 90 secs rest) X 8. To spruce up, do squats during the rest period for each or alternating set.
2) Mix calisthenics with kettle bell workouts. Lot of combinations at your disposal.
3) Cardio conditioning interspersed with Strength conditioning workouts. Again lot of combinations available.
4) Finish Pure strength workouts with animal walks. Make sure your body has sufficiently recuperated before performing animal walks.
5) Declining sets of push-up/squat pair from 25 all the way to 1. Finish with 5 minutes shadow box.
6) 1 set Tabata squats and end with kettle bell presses or if you are more seasoned perform Tabata squat + kettle press together.
7) Uphill sprints (50 meter X 8) and finish each sprint with 10 push-ups.
8) Run up stairs, perform 10 push-ups, descend and finish with few squat reps X 8
Using more complementary tools like sledge, heavy tires, hammer, yoke walk clubbed with barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells and including a variety of calisthenics etc, an astute aspirant can devise holistic workouts.
As fitness enthusiasts, whatever training regimen we devise should address all aspects like strength, conditioning, explosiveness, endurance and functional etc. I am sure certain training modalities would have far better training schedule than this but this text is based out of my own experience. These are just few examples but as I mentioned earlier there are limitless possibilities. I am sure few readers can come up with much better routines than those mentioned above. May the fitness tribe increase!!