Fundamentals of Fitness Success

February 24, 2012

Legendary Success Coach Jim Rohn said

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.

So true, mega-ditto that statement!  Most people don’t do the basics because they seem boring and simple. There is no quick fix magic answer and no pizazz.

At first glance the fundamentals seem simple. However, simple does not mean easy…when you do them right. Master the fundamentals to make big changes in your physique and performance.

Mastery of Fitness Fundamentals is like learning to read. You must master the fundamentals of the alphabet before you can read a book. Learn the ABC song first. Even then you have to earn the right to read Shakespeare by starting with Sesame Street and working your way up.

This was my childhood inspiration

30-years of working out in-the-trenches started for me after reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography and I have seen pretty much everything you can imagine in the fitness game. Lots of things come and go, but the fundamentals are always there waiting for you.

My fundamentals are not cushioned with endless research studies to prove they work. I am more of a research by experience kind of guy. I write about stuff that works in the real world. The stuff just works. You don’t have to prove to me that jumping into a pool will make me wet, I just gotta jump in and I will experience it myself. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

So let’s jump in and get wet!

Here are fundamentals that made all the difference for me. Hope they do the same for you. Short. Sweet. Simple.

1. Lifestyle. Fitness must be a part of your life. It is not a 6-week goal of losing weight for vacation and killing yourself to get there. Think long term. Think the rest of your life. It puts those cheat days in perspective. Let the guilt go. You have the rest of your life to burn off the donut and fit into a bathing suit.

2. Consistency. SHOW UP! Make it a habit. Make it a foundational part of your week. Working out has given me confidence and discipline that has transcended into every aspect of my life. It takes dedication and persistence to show up and never quit.

3. Balanced Nutrition. Extreme diets never last. Keep a balanced plan and don’t go to extremes. If you equate pain to dieting you will not be consistent. We are programmed to avoid pain. Keep your nutritional yin and yang intake balanced. Too much of anything can be bad. Calories are not the enemy. You need them to fuel your body. Starve yourself and you take away any chance your body has to recover and excel.

4. Don’t Over Exercise. Rest is the silent workout. You must rest to recover and grow. Repair of the body is essential to performance and physique enhancement. The number one mistake I see with working out is people doing too much, too long, with inadequate rest. Regress to progress.

5. Add supplements. If you train hard and play hard you better give your body the nutrients to perform. It is very difficult to get all the nutrients you need as an athlete strictly from whole foods. Adding additional protein and recovery drinks are a secret weapon to obtaining your goal. Just adding a drink after training will make a huge positive impact. Simply add a protein shake into your daily meal plan and you will feel the difference. 

6. Variety. You gotta spice up your routine. Your body is designed for adaptation to its environment and to stressors. It is called homeostasis. The dreaded plateau or sticking point hits if you don’t vary training principles. Change tempo, load, vectors, stability, environment, exercise selection. Try something new. Never did yoga? Give it a go. How about cycling? Spice up your life. Arnold took ballet for goodness sakes. He won Seven Mr. Olympia titles. I think he was onto something.

7.  Go Primal. Own the pushup. Pull up. Deadlifts. Squats, cleans, and a Farmer walks. Establish a solid foundation of basic power movements that you can build on with confidence. Notice these don’t involve machines. YOU are the machine.

8. Keep a journal or App. Oh have times have changed. I used a spiral notebook to document my nutrition, exercise program, how I felt, weight used and progression. Now they have iPhone Apps for everything. I am old! How can you determine where you are going if you don’t have a history of where you have been? A journal helps personalize your program. It solidifies dedication. It separates you from the masses. If your life is worth living, it’s worth documenting. Not to mention it shows you what worked and what did not. That is sort of important.

9.  Train the chain you don’t see. Most people blast out training the ‘mirror’ muscles. You know the ones posing in the gym (biceps, shoulders and chest with toothpick legs). For maximum change in physique train the posterior chain. Calves, hamstrings, glutes, all three sections of the trapezius. Lats and neck. It’s the muscles you don’t see that make all the difference.

Posterior Chain
Posterior Chain

10. Regeneration workouts. Take days to actively recover. Concentrate on soft tissue, mobility, stability, stretching, core and dynamic movements. Decrease the chance of injury. Increase Durability. Build muscle. Optimize function. These are all good things.

11.  Take a week off. Yeah that’s right!  If you train with intensity on a regular basis, every six months take a week off. Do nothing. Except eat clean and healthy. Watch what happens. You will get stronger. Thinking you will get fat and lose muscle in a week is all on your head. Get over it. Little known secret….the champions take time off because they KNOW it makes you better!

There ya have it. No infomercial promises here or fad gimmicks. If you want to play in the fitness game for a long time take the time to do it right. Don’t learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade!

 Perry Nickelston, DC,FMS,SFMA