When it comes to being fit, there are a number of ways you can track your progress and know whether your body is headed in the right direction. Technology today has spoiled us and made it very easy to track things such as number of steps we take and the daily calories we burn. It’s time we take a step back and look at what I believe are the top five items that are most important when it comes to determining our fitness.
This list goes in no certain order as they’re are all of equal importance.
This is the number that consumes us all. Our world is obsessed with this number when it comes to losing weight even though it doesn’t tell the whole picture. After all, whether you plan on gaining or losing weight, you need to know where you are when you begin.
The problem comes about when we don’t dig a little deeper and determine what the scale is really telling us. If you don’t have a scale at home, shame on you. It’s time to get one. I use the EatSmart brand digital scale and have had it for years. You can find it on Amazon here. Know your weight and track it weekly.
Body Fat %/Lean Body Mass
This is my go-to number when it comes to measuring my fitness. I can lose or gain weight each week and it never bothers me. Your weight shouldn’t bother you either. Our body fat percentage and lean body mass is the tell-all of where we really stand on the scale. You need a cheap, cost-effective way to track your body fat and using fat calipers with consistency will tell you everything you need to know. There are 2 types of caliper tests you can use, the 7-site or 3-site test. I go with the 3-site just because it’s the quicker of the 2. You can find a cheap set of calipers here and can calculate your percentage here. However, the more precise way is via the DEXA Scan which I’ll discuss more about in a later post.
If you are a Crossfitter, you know exactly where I’m going with this. MetCons are the bread and butter for Crossfit. However, if you don’t like Crossfit and prefer other methods of getting fit you can still use metabolic conditioning to your advantage. For instance, next time you are in the gym, use circuits in your training. No more resting in your workout. Pair movements together and prepare to feel the burn. With MetCon’s, fitness is measured in time, reps completed, weight lifted. You can do the same outside of Crossfit with a bit of planning on your part using barbell/dumbbell complexes, bodyweight movement circuits, jump rope using double unders and a variety of other jump rope methods. The point is that you can be jacked and strong all you want, but if you don’t have conditioning to back it up, you’re just a bunch of stagnant muscle. Next time you are in the gym, lay off the treadmill for a day and pair up some dumbbell and bodyweight movements. You will burn the calories, I promise.
I love, love, love getting strong. There is nothing better in exercise than picking up heavy weight and putting it back down. Back Squats, Front Squats, Snatches, Clean & Jerks, Deadlifts, Presses. I love getting strong. But you know what is so laughable? When someone (who doesn’t lift weights) tells me they don’t want to get to big? I think Arnold said it best:Folks are so misguided on strength. Just because you go to the gym and pick up a barbell doesn’t mean you are going to get huge like Arnold or any other professional bodybuilder. First off, do you realize how much food you have to eat to even get there? You have to feed all that muscle to maintain it somehow. Do you realize the extremity of a bodybuilder’s diet and programming? Get real, bodybuilding is a lifelong pursuit and there is no way a barbell alone can make you look huge. However, if everyone lifted weights and maintained their fitness and conditioning throughout life, we wouldn’t need so many nursing homes and other elderly care facilities. Take care of yourself, take care of your shit, get off your ass. and lift some weight.
I used to HATE mobility. The constant stretching of my tight muscles suck and it is boring. That was my mindset. Then I realized how much harder my muscles have to work from being so tight and it was then that I began to open my eyes. As flexibility improves, so does your strength. Take a gymnast for example. Have you ever seen a fat male gymnast? Me neither. The picture that always runs through my head are big arms, swollen quads, and muscle mass….everywhere. These guys are not only swole but extremely flexible. This flexibility improves their muscles range of motion making it easier on the body to move, even under heavy weight.
There are a number of ways you can improve your mobility and you should start with at least one way today. If you’ve never tried yoga, find you a beginner course on YouTube or purchase one online today. You may laugh now, but you’ll soon be laughing again after one little yoga class whoops your ass. Get you a roller, lacrosse ball and a massage stick today if you don’t own one already. Spend 15 minutes every morning and/or before you go to bed working on those sticky spots and then watch your world improve. I personally like to spend time every night with these tools as it helps me relax and sleep easier. Zach Even-Esh has a great video for total body mobility using strictly the foam roller and static stretches. You can try it and other methods as well. Use a bunch of different tools and see what works best for you.