We often talk about whole vs. processed foods. But what about whole vs. processed fitness?
When it comes to exercise, there is an overwhelming amount of information and advice out there.
- Strength Training vs CrossFit vs Calisthenics?
- Running vs Swimming vs Cycling?
- Yoga vs Pilates?
- Hiking vs Walking vs Soccer vs Karate?
- Reps, sets, rest, super sets, giant sets, volume, intensity, HIIT, cardio, etc…
In fact, if you type “exercise” into Google, you’ll get more than 500,000,000 results in less than 40 seconds. YIKES!
Worst of all, most of the information out there about exercise focuses on the minute details that is so far from the source of exercise: Basic everyday movement.
These details ARE important… But NOT not so much if you are a beginner (or even relatively intermediate).
It’s kind of like how things like protein intake goals, supplements, carb cycling, and food elimination diets can be really useful – but not so much if you are still binging on takeaways and late night snacks every week.
Get the basics of moderation, portion control, and food quality right first before jumping ahead.
Frequency and consistency come before details:
Two of the most important keys to getting into the habit of exercising (or pretty much anything else) and making it “part of who you are” are frequency and consistency .
These things come before you try and figure out what the best plan is for you!
Why? Because the best plan for you depends on what you are able to do frequently and consistently. The perfect plan in the world is useless if you can’t stick to it.
If you were to watch some of the most active and sporty people in the world you would see that what they do for exercise often changes of time based on what they like or don’t like, what’s popular and trendy, the season and weather, and whatever fits in with their lifestyle and goals. The things that stay the same however is that they are always active and it’s part of their daily life.
How to un-process your fitness:
There is a great lesson in Sleekgeek’s Precision Nutrition Coaching Program that helps our clients translate what they have learned about nutrition so far into other areas of their life, such as fitness.
Below I’ve outlined some of the key points and takeaways from that lesson that you can use in your own life right away.
I suggest reading through all of them, and then writing down your answers to each “Ask yourself” question with a pen and paper.
In our coaching program we call this an “Owner’s Manual Exercise” which is designed to give you insight into how to best operate your own life and body.
1) Start as soon as possible.
Do what you can with what you have. Just get moving, as often as you can, in any way you can.
- Ask yourself: What can I do right now with what I have? (Your body, your furniture, the outdoors, etc)
2) Move as often.
Look for “Opportunities For Movement” (OFM) in everyday life such as taking the stairs, parking further from the shops, putting in some extra energy into the housework, or busting out a quick dance when no one is watching.
- Ask yourself: How can I move more often throughout the day? (Regular breaks, schedule it into your diary, park far away and walk, take the stairs, walking meetings or dates, etc)
3) Something is always better than nothing.
Focus more on an “always something” approach rather than an “all or nothing” approach. Even 10 minutes of pushups and squats or a brisk walk is better than skipping your workout entirely because you don’t have a full 60 minutes or the energy to go through a whole workout.
- Ask yourself: What can I do today that is at least SOMETHING?
4) Focus on moving well.
Learn about how to exercise properly. If you want to make exercise a life-long habit then you need to master good technique before you make things harder and get injured. Get help from a trainer and/or read up on what you’re doing.
- Ask yourself: How can I learn better technique? (Youtube, friends, personal trainers, ask in Sleekgeek, etc)
5) Use the equipment you have available to you.
Just like how you don’t need a Ferrari to get around town, you don’t need the perfect gym setup or equipment to get a good workout in. Improvise. If you have two working legs and a ground, you can walk. If you have a heavy thing, you have a weight you can lift (even just your body counts).
- Ask yourself: How can I get creative with what’s around me? (Tables, chairs, buckets of water, bags of sand, bags of books, a small adjustable dumbell, etc)
6) Make your exercise fit YOU.
Do activities that you enjoy. Choose a form of exercise that you will do often and regularly, something that you will look forward to and is right for your level of fitness. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or what magazines tell you is trendy. In fact, some of the best bodies around belong to guys who “play” and/or do manual labor for a living — the term “farm boy strong” exists for a reason.
- Ask yourself: What do I enjoy, or what could I see myself eventually enjoying? (Gym, outdoors, walking, running, martial arts, sports, dancing, swimming, etc)
7) Keep it fun.
Whether you love bowling, ballroom dancing, dodgeball, or competitive cup stacking… just get moving. This is your time to do something good for your body.
- Ask yourself: How can I keep it fun? (Try new things, get friends or family involved, etc)
8) Mix it up.
Exercise doesn’t need to be limited to only running, or only weight lifting, or only hiking. I personally weight lift 4 times a week with regular hikes, runs, and games of squash in between.
- Ask yourself: How can I mix it up? (Stuff you enjoy with stuff you maybe don’t enjoy quite so much or aren’t good at yet, try with new things, change with the seasons, etc)
These are more than just “8 steps in a listicle”. If you really take these to heart, you will have an easier time making movement part of your every day lifestyle rather than just trying to conform to what you think you should be doing.
Oh, and if you think you aren’t a beginner or intermediate: Prove it.
Whenever a client thinks a habit or lesson in Sleekgeek’s Precision Nutrition Coaching Program is too easy, we ask them to prove it. I challenge them to show me mastery in the basics by flawlessly completing their habits over the next couple of months (or at least with a 90% consistency). Most of the time only THEN do they realise that “knowing” and “doing” are two different things.
The most successful people aren’t successful because they discovered the one trick or secret or minor detail that made all the difference. They are expert or adept at what they do because they perform the basics really well, consistently and frequently. They can just about do it with their eyes closed, even in the toughest and most stressful of times.
Eat well, move often, sleep enough, and think wisely. Things like supplements, special routines, sleep hacks, and mind tricks are just the cherries on the top.
- Sleekgeek’s 30-Day Move More Challenge
- Sleekgeek’s 30-Day Step Challenge
- Precision Nutrition’s article on How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
- Reddit’s Bodyweight Fitness Community’s Recommended Routine
- Greatist’s article on 50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
- T-Nation’s article on Third World Workouts