It’s the New Year and everyone is full of hope and setting resolutions … many of which will fall on their face within the first few weeks of the year but it doesn’t have to be that way. Resolve to be strong and several of the most common resolution will take care of themselves. Let’s take a look at some:
1) Lose Weight
First off, let’s get past the whole concept of weight loss. Any person at the same weight but stronger is healthier and if you get stronger, it’s likely you’re going to end up weighing pretty close to what you did when you considered yourself overweight … unless you were severely obese. Muscle weighs significantly more than fat as it is significantly denser, so let’s just discuss how to lose fat … Okay?
There really is only one effective way to lose fat and keep it off without killing yourself and that’s to increase your bodies resting metabolism but everyone initially turns to dieting, so let’s discuss that for a bit. While dieting can be quite effective (especially when cleaning up a severely poor diet), without some stimulus to hold on to your muscle, you’re going to lose that too. Also, long term dieting drives your metabolic rate down (defense mechanism to maintain homeostasis) and will eventually plateau requiring even more severe dieting, which eventually plateau’s again driving a pretty vicious cycle. Dieting is hard and not something you can maintain long term, so learning how to eat properly and increasing your metabolism is the only real solution here.
One of the benefits not often discussed about being stronger is the increased rate of resting metabolism that it drives. The more lean muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolism will be which means you can burn fat while sitting in your office chair at work and all day, not just when your performing exercise. It’s a bit more nuanced but what I am saying is get stronger and you will lose fat much more easily.
2) Get in Shape/ Exercise More:
Unfortunately, everyone’s idea of getting in shape seems to look like the front of Men’s Fitness. While that would be pretty awesome, know that the model in that picture is running single digit body fat which all but ruined their lives to achieve and is not something you can maintain for any period of time without getting sick. Fat is an integral part of the bodies metabolic system and is required for shuttling nutrients around the body and removing toxins. That fitness model also has some very specific training that got them all swole in the first place and it’s not any of the methodologies below.
Steady State Cardio … You’ve tried cardio before and the results are good for the first few weeks, then taper off. Why is that … Because cardio is only effective until you adapt to it. The body reacts and adapts to the specific stress put on it, so after adapting to what is a very low intensity exercise, you plateau and there’s no way keep increasing the intensity or volume in the long term, so your stuck again.
How about CrossFit … While CrossFit has done a lot to promote healthy lifestyles and produced some amazingly fit looking people, it has a problem. Those super fit looking people are CrossFit performers. Don’t confuse it with exercise, it’s a sport and doing CrossFit is simply practice to win CrossFit competitions. These performers; just like a football player, baseball player, etc…, utilize other methodologies to get in prime condition then they practice their sport. I’m also a bit concerned with the ease of credentials to get a CrossFit certification and the potential injuries that tend to accompany the highly impactful exercise routines associated with it. Let’s also not forget that the constant change (WOD’s) actually prevents any kind of specific adaptation from occurring, so it works against itself from the very beginning.
How about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? I personally like HIIT and I use it as part of complete strength and conditioning routine but let’s be clear, conditioning alone will not help you to complete your fitness goals. HIIT is too short of an activity and too low of an intensity to drive true metabolic change by itself, so it must be combined with something else for it to be effective.
That something else just so happens to be strength training. Not only will it help you burn fat at a higher than normal rate, it will fill you out so you don’t look Skinny/Fat when you finally get to the fat ratio you were looking for. The best part of strength training is that it never plateau’s. A properly programmed strength plan will continue for years and years making you stronger and stronger. Volume, Intensity and frequency can all be adjusted at any time to change results and continue driving progress. Depending upon age, gender, athletic ability, etc… results and progress will vary but that’s where a good coach comes in and can help you navigate and adjust the training variables for success.
3) Eat Healthier:
As far as I am concerned, this shouldn’t be a resolution. Everyone needs to educate themselves on what is and is not a proper food for consumption. Listening to the government and their ridiculously politicized dietary recommendations is not the answer either. Remember the food pyramid …? It was a distinct bow to the American farming subsidies and the processed food industry. The new My Plate regulations are no better. Turn off Facebook and go read some proper dietary studies … A diet steeped in highly processed carbohydrates is not what your body needs to get strong or to get lean.
Any diet tuned to get you stronger is going to be extremely high in protein and yes that means lots of dead animal … This type of diet (which isn’t a fad but a lifestyle) is very satiating and will often lead to you having to schedule your meals so you don’t forget them. That’s no lie … Everyone I have put on a high protein diet struggles to get their calories in because they simply aren’t hungry enough to remember to eat.
So … Strength based diets are already healthier by their very nature but be prepared to set reminders to eat so you don’t forget because a lack of food equals a distinct lack of gains.
4) Learn a New Skill or Hobby:
I like this resolution. I think it helps keep your mind clear and makes you a more engaged and engaging person in general but I try to learn something new a lot more than once a year. Lets discuss what you can learn based upon strength.
If you’re a rank novice, then you could learn the proper form for all of the main lifts. That may sound like a pretty lame goal but I promise you that proper Squat form is pretty darn difficult. I work with clients and friends every day who can’t seem to nail down the Press form. Bench form is subtle and impossible to get perfect without lots of video or friends and the internet is full of outrageously awful Deadlift videos. Learning proper form and how to hold it when it gets heavy is a difficult to learn skill and one that needs constant attention, so don’t discount this as a solid resolution.
If you’re an experienced lifter with good form, learning how to program yourself (and possibly others) is a great resolution. Intermediate programing is a mountainous pile of ideas where volume, intensity, frequency, etc… Can all be adjusted to accomplish specific results. Don’t even get me started on advanced programing.
How about becoming a strength coach? That would be an amazing skill to have and is a huge resolution. Not only do you have to learn how to coach yourself through beginning and intermediate programming, you will need to learn how certain lifts and programming affect different populations based on age, gender, history, athletic ability, mental fortitude, etc… Being a coach is extremely rewarding but the skills you need for it transcend knowing how to coach the lifts. You need to learn how to coach people and that is ultimately the only way you can end up doing it for a living.
So … I didn’t go too deep in to any specific subject here because I didn’t want this to read like War and Peace but I hope you can see that strength offers something for everyone in regard to resolutions. I didn’t even mention what the iron can teach you about yourself. Invest in strength in 2018 and I promise you that all those other common resolutions will all come along for the ride.