You’re killing it in the gym, committed to getting in your workout 3-5x/week, and you saw great results right from the beginning, but now you’re stuck. Why? Let’s dig deeper into the Fitness Pyramid.
Nutrition fuels essential bodily functions/organs and physical activity (your “workout”). Achieving optimal health and weight management entails not only the appropriate physical activity but also a healthy and balanced nutritional intake – the “calories in” portion of the “calories in/out” equation.
If weight loss is your goal, you must be hypocaloric! (consume less than you burn). Tools like MyPlate (https://www.myplate.gov/), Dietary Guidelines (https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/) or Canada’s Food Guide (https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/) can help provide a good understanding of macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat), micronutrients (vitamins – for physiological function and minerals – for growth, strength, regulation) and hydration in terms of good sources of nutrients, variety and amounts.
Every 5 years, a panel of experts (dietitians, doctors, public health etc.) update the North American Dietary Guidelines. You can download that guide here: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/
Some Key guidelines include:
1. Follow a Health Dietary Pattern Across every Life Stage – Keto, Atkins, other “diets” are a red flag!
2. Focus on Variety, Nutrient Density and Amount
3. Limit Foods and Beverages higher in Added Sugars, Saturated Fat and Sodium and Limit Alcohol Beverages
4. Learn How to Read Food Labels/Be Wary of Food Marketing
At Gravity, whilst our most visible services are Fitness related (Personal Training, Group Classes etc.) we do try and instill mindfulness about the trifecta of Training, Rest and Recovery and Nutrition.
Is Nutrition the only thing that matters? Absolutely not, but it’s the foundation for everything that happens in the facility when training. Which brings us to our next level…
2. Flexibility and Mobility
Flexibility and mobility are the key components to physically being able to do the things you want to do, from everyday things like bending to tie your shoes, riding a bike and dancing, to the more athletic sports training and participating in a triathlon. As a trainer, regardless of your training goals, I’d humbly suggest including flexibility and mobility training in your routine.
The majority of the time, we hear the terms flexibility and mobility together, almost to the point of making it seem like they are the same thing. However, even though they go hand in hand, they are different.
In general, “flexibility” refers to the total passiveness and availability of range of motion (ROM) around a joint. Flexibility concerns soft tissue (think quality of your muscle). However being flexible doesn’t necessarily mean being able to move well.
“Mobility” is used as a term to express how well one can move. If you can move yourself in a functional range of motion then you can say you have good mobility. For Mobility, think quality of joints.
Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyle and aging means that flexibility and mobility can deteriorate. With less movement, daily activities can become more difficult and you may compensate in ways that leads to all sorts of dysfunction, pain etc. A dynamic warm up and static flexibility cool down is a must for each workout. Attending specific sessions dedicated to mobility (Stick Mobility) or Flexibility (Flexibility Training/Yoga) is best. There is no limit to flexibility and mobility training – every day is ideal.
3. Metabolic Conditioning
Metabolic conditioning (MetCon) builds capacity in each of three metabolic pathways, develops efficiency for short, medium, and long duration simultaneously. Okay so what does that mean? Have you ever taken the time to notice how we structure our rowing workouts?
We have short intervals, alternating intervals and longer steady-state pieces. We follow the rowing Canada 5 categories of training intensity which breathe life into the three metabolic pathways! Our summer 3 month plan is published in the members areas and you will note that we have different categories of work for the Mon/Tues, Wed/Thur and Fri/Sat 3x per week recommended attendance. This will maintain optimal MetCon if followed. We also periodize our lifting and calisthenics programs in monthly blocks. All you have to do is be consistent in your attendance.
Science aside, there are simply short, medium, and long workouts. One day you might max out a lift in one to two seconds, another day you do pause reps, you might max out band assisted pull ups one week and do 2-3 Frenchie pull ups the next. For rowing, 8 min steady state warm and 5km piece or 3 rounds of 6 x 20s on 40s off. We’ve programmed it all to be in line with the latest sports science and training principles.
It is important to observe rest and recovery protocols and the Gravity schedule is designed to enforce those as much as possible. i.e. the rowing workout Mon and Tues is the same – why, because it’s not a good idea to row consecutive days. Pursuits like Sprint Training and Rowing purposefully creates micro tears in the lungs as well as muscle tissue and us mere mortals typically need rest of 48-72hrs and good nutrition to help repair those tears with new, healthy tissue (Bronchioles). If you tear tissue soon after an earlier session, then repair is more likely to occur in the form of scar tissue not healthy new tissue. Why not do a flexibility, mobility, calisthenics or lifting session the day after rowing if you want to train daily.
First thing that comes to most people’s minds when you say Gymnastics is the Olympics, with muscle bound elite athletes holding an iron cross on rings or somersaulting across the floor - or little kids flipping around all over the place. Let’s change that perception.
Gravity’s calisthenics training begins to develop basic gymnastic and functional movement skills, and we all know you must master the basics before you move on to the next level, if you want to succeed. Gymnastics “establishes functional capacity for body control and range of motion.” This can be seen in a properly done bodyweight squat, push-up, or pull-up. It can also be seen in back levers and muscle ups. All of these things are possible – but it requires consistency and training smart. We see measurable improvement approximately every 3 months for those that train 3x per week in this discipline. It is not possible to improve skills in this area just coming 1x per week.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the muscle up. It’s probably one of the flashiest moves in Calisthenics. It’s a difficult movement to master for many. My best advice when it comes to MUs and gymnastics in general is continue to practice the basics, master the basics, and continuously work on progressions. Skipping over levels will get you nowhere fast. Okay, heading up the pyramid…
The fifth section of the pyramid is weightlifting. If you think about some of the most frustrating movements in the gym, outside of gymnastics, 99% of people are going to say Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Both of these movements are extremely complex and take years to master. This is why they are towards the top of the pyramid.
If you look back at the last three sections (gymnastics, metabolic conditioning and flexibility/mobility) now you can see why we stress the importance of those elements. So if you’re getting frustrated with Snatch and/or C&J don’t beat yourself up. Work on the Power-lifting basics, Squat, Deadlift, Bench and accessories like Overhead Press. If you’re doing that, WHILE working on your body control, energy systems and mobility/flexibility, WHILE practicing technique with our coaches, you’re going to pick it up. Remember, it just takes time, and repetition. Alright last one….
So how should we apply this in our daily regimen? Honestly, we don’t need to. Most people engaged in training actually don’t make it up this far, or have no interest in a specific sport. For the majority of people, being “fit for life” is a motivating factor. In that case, we recommend moving up the pyramid, from bottom to top, as your interest dictates. Moving up to Metabolic Conditioning is a minimum goal however.
Call to Action
Want to ensure you are doing the right things, right, and getting the optimal benefits from your training, why not book a 60 minute session with a coach whom can work with you to create a periodized roadmap of training. You may find this means doing less (working smart) rather than just working hard. And you may find that some of your current sequencing and type of training may actually be negating the benefits desired from a previous training session and holding you back from your goals!
Train Smart | Perform Better | Live Well