I’ve said it before. I’ll keep saying it. What you eat is by far the most important factor in weight loss. But. You really do need to be physically active. There is no way to have a well-rounded, healthy life without both. Being active and implementing exercise into your daily life is EXTREMELY beneficial. Today we are going to discuss the methods and exercises I have seen to be most beneficial towards my major weight loss, and what I believe will improve anyone’s overall fitness and health. Why should you listen to me? My top weight was 272 lbs, today I weigh 155. These things really work.
If you aren’t working your muscles in some way on a daily basis, you are doing yourself a huge disservice – end of story. Exercise benefits you in virtually every area of life. Lessen your risk of heart disease! Greatly improve your energy and brain function! Ramp up your mood! All for the price of….nothing. Exercise is free ya’ll. I’ve lost over 110 lbs. (and counting) without ever stepping foot in a gym or paying a membership fee. Yes, really! That is not to say that I won’t ever join a gym, or that I think they’re worthless. I simply haven’t needed to utilize that tool (yet?). Don’t feed me the excuse that you can’t afford a gym membership. You don’t need one. Of course it’s beneficial if you use it! Go to the gym if that’s your thing! But most people just waste their money and rarely, if ever, go.
So let’s delve in.
What kind of physical activity did I implement to lose so damn much fat? All kinds. I tried a million things (that may be an exaggeration…I’ve never really ever tried to commit to running) Do I recommend trying a million things? Yessssssssssss. First of all, you need to find what is going to work best for you. Second of all, all that variation breaks up the monotony – making it less likely that you’ll stop exercising. Third, it will keep your body guessing, an effective tool against plateaus.
I did all kinds of fitness challenges (Pinterest is a great resource for this) these kinds of things are great for a daily ‘bare minimum’. Do the challenge for the day, then do something else you know you need to work on. That way, if you don’t feel like continuing on and doing more, at least you completed your challenge for the day!
That’s awfully vague!
Yes. You need to do the work for yourself to find what works best to keep you motivated. I can’t provide that answer for you – you are an individual. You are variable. You are not me, and I am not you. I ferkin HATE running. Won’t ever be into it – maybe trail running but that’s kind of more like adventure jogging…. Point is this, you may love running! You may love swimming. You may love weight training (YASSSSS) you need to find a cornerstone exercise that you love and do it every day (80/20 rule guys, don’t beat yourself up if you miss the occasional day)
My cornerstone is hiking. Being outside, paying attention to varied terrain, carrying weight, talking to birds, observing plants, watching my dog’s LOVE life on the trail – THAT is my shit. What is yours? You can even have more than one! I encourage it! I also do my own form of Pilates on a daily basis – I believe strength and flexibility training are very important. Biking is something I can’t wait to get back into, once I can afford the required equipment. I’m looking into getting back into martial arts. Don’t stop at one. Get good at many. Hobbies are the spice of life! (Spices are also the spice of life….there are a lot of things that are the spice of life…. Get spicy!)
Alright, so what else?
Other than your cornerstone(s) you should get into a set routine of exercises, you know, like; Leg day, arm day, core day, chest and back day…etc. Let me input here – weight training is SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than cardio for weight loss, and for general health. Building muscle not only tones your body, but it burns more fat around the clock! So LIFT! Lift yourself! Body weight is definitely effective, you don’t need to add separate weight until you are no longer seeing progress, and you most certainly don’t need to add separate weight until your form is solid. It would be my humble opinion that a strong core and lower body are the most important things to focus on. Maybe because I love squats and hate flys, but hey, whatever….
FOCUS ON COMPOUND EXERCISES.
What? Compound exercises utilize multiple muscle groups, as opposed to isolated exercises which focus on one muscle set. This falls into a concept I incessantly push in all areas of life – efficiency. Compound exercises provide a whole lot of bang for your buck, and apply more broadly to daily activities. Think dead lift, squat, pull-ups, dips, bench press, etc. Compound exercises are the best way to go.
So, what are my favorites?
I focus on five main exercises that I have seen play huge roles in amping up my fitness level. I love them because there are so many variants for each that I can use to break monotony and shift through plateaus with ease.
1. The Plank: Planking it one of the most passive ways to gain strength and stability from head to toe. Obviously it’s a great core exercise, but it also works your arms, shoulders, back, and legs. I started with a thirty second plank, and by building on that every day (80/20 again….) I recently have hit a four minute plank. My current goal is 5 minutes, at which point I’ll start adding weight to my back and will build to five minutes again. Wash , rinse, repeat. The plank is incredible; this should be part of everyone’s routine. Start with an upright plank, the easiest one to hold. Build your hold time, shift between that and a standard plank as you work towards your goal. Variations include side planks, side planks, reverse, with upright and standard, as well as lifted leg in each.
2. The Squat: In the very beginning I could only do ten body weight squats at a time, and my form may have been questionable… Build it! Pay serious attention to your form here and slowly add reps. Vary your foot placement, and pursue a deeper sit back. You’ll have ass kickin powerful legs in no time. Add weight after your form is unshakable, and slowly build. This compound exercise is just fricken awesome.
3. The Dead lift: The dead lift is quickly becoming my favorite weighted exercise. You’ll probably be able to get your form down pretty quickly, so start with a bar or hand weights and build. There is argument back and forth about who ‘the king of lower body’ is; Squat or Dead lift. I think they make great partners, but overall, I think the dead lift takes the cake because it’s a little more joint friendly. Dead lift variations include, but are not limited to; stiff-legged, Romanian, sumo, etc.
4. Calf Lift: Really? Yeah. I love calf lifts. They’ve always been an anxious habit of mine. Because of this, I have always had rockin solid calves, which is great because I really like serious looking calves – and it applies to hiking steep and varied terrain. Again, I have a focus on lower body over upper, and there is something about working my calves to the point of utter failure that releases a ton of tension in my mind. You can do calf lifts anywhere. Huge benefit to the exercise. I tend to do them in cyclical rounds of three forms; toe forward, toes out (pointing in exact opposite directions) and toes in.
5. Carrying weight: This one requires clarification. I make a point never to go hiking/walking/jogging without weight on my back. I started with 2 liters of water, and I recommend everyone do this. Why? Having water on you encourages you to stay hydrated. DRINK MORE WATER. Second of all, you’re carrying weight. Automatically a greater workout than if you were not. This is probably my one biggest tip for people looking to start towards losing a large amount of weight. Carry at least two liters and basic survival supplies when you go out, even if you’re walking on sidewalk. It’s a good habit to be familiar with carrying loads, especially basic survival gear. You never know what’s going to happen. Build the amount you carry over time, trust me on this one, it has just been hugely beneficial to me.
So. Those are my big five. Focusing on those means I still have a fairly comprehensive workout plan if I don’t do any other type of exercise. I’m not saying these are the only things you should do; sincerely, do not take it that way.
These methods will help significantly increase your level of fitness. Each breakthrough or new ‘level’ you feel you reach should be accompanied by setting a new goal.
Setting new, progressive goals is crucial to continued improvement
Great, so you achieved your goal of 10 push ups with great form. Now what? You can revel for a while in that feeling, but you can’t just leave it at ten push ups. Now is the time for more, or, different. Your new goal is 20 push ups, OR, ten dips. See? Set goals that build on previous ones. Just like you had to learn the alphabet to learn how to create words, to learn how to create sentences, to learn how to piece together paragraphs, so on and so forth. Changing goals keeps you motivated. Reaching goals keeps you motivated! There are so few things cooler than gaining capabilities you never previously had. Leveling up is awesome!
Setting varied goals helps to break plateaus
Don’t focus on one area to build. First of all, you’ll be unbalanced. Second of all, you’ll more easily fall into a rut. Accomplished a lower body goal like 25 squats in a set? Think about how you can improve your shoulder strength now, then how you can build your lower abs, then your mid back, etc. Keep the ball rolling by setting these diverse physical goals. This also keeps your mind fresh. By focusing on a more detailed goal like, “I want to be able to do chin ups,” you won’t be as hard fixated on large, difficult goals like, “I want to lose 50 lbs.,” but you will still see progress towards that main objective. Plateaus are physical AND mental. Don’t forget that.
What should I take away from all this?
Physical activity is decidedly necessary to your everyday life. The benefits are undeniable. Motivation is often a bitch, especially if you aren’t the type to want to bust your literal ass all the time. Trying new things is a must. Doing predetermined challenges can be very helpful. Varied challenges and goals are essential. Compound exercises are your best friend – building muscle is better than cardio. Find something you love to do! And always remember, what you eat will make you or break you faster than anything else.
You! Yes, you, what are your thoughts on the subject?
What are your best tips for physical activity? Your favorite exercises? What do you struggle with the most? Start a conversation! Leave a comment below!
Don’t forget to check out these articles
- How I’ve Lost over 110 pounds
- The Nutrition Guidelines I Followed for Major Weight Loss
- How Training for a ‘Focus Goal’ Pushes you to Achieve Bigger Goals
- Responsibility for your Dependents is Your Most Reliable Source of Accountability
- Nutritive Kitchen Staples: Ensuring You to Thrive and Flourish
Now, for the disclaimer – I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or medical authority, this is meant to be only a source of information and inspiration, implementing these techniques into your daily life is something you do of your own free will and at your own risk.
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