It’s a new year. 2022 is here. This means that we’ll be seeing New Year’s resolutions and goals coming in waves related to fitness, nutrition, health, and performance.
Just remember, the most potent “secret” to achieving them all is consistency. That’s the key.
In order to support your New Year’s resolutions, let’s identify 4 key areas that you can begin targeting in your approach:
- Strength Training
Developing consistency in these 4 areas will put you on the fast track to achieving the results you seek.
Strength training is often misunderstood or even thought of as a dangerous activity that can harm you. In reality, the weight room might be one of the biggest hammers you can swing as it relates to your overall health and performance.
When performed with good technique and patience, lifting weights can be pivotal toward developing a stronger, more powerful version of who you are.
Consistent strength training in the gym develops muscular strength, supports skeletal structure robustness (think: bones, ligaments, and tendons), and lastly, preserves both power and explosiveness.
We know that it’s important to build strength in our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. However, we often forget about preserving our overall power and explosiveness. This becomes even more important as we age.
You see, being powerful isn’t exclusive to athletes competing in sports. Harnessing your power and remaining explosive with your body means that you’re athletic. In essence, everyone’s an athlete. Simple stuff like jumping, hopping, and sprinting gets the job done here.
When it boils down to strength training, a simple way to check off both boxes of strength and power is to lift weights at moderate-to-heavy loads and at varying speeds for a total of 2-3x each week.
Most people (really, everyone) hates conditioning. But, we all know that we need to do it.
Sometimes, you just need to bite the bullet and do the things you know you have to do so that you can get the results you want. It’s just that simple.
This, my friends, is conditioning.
Let’s not overdo it here though and begin to think that you need to become as conditioned as the #1 ranked MMA fighter. Sure, you could do that if you want, but it’s much easier than that.
Instead, the goal is to incorporate both high-intensity conditioning (think: short and fast like sprint intervals) and low-intensity conditioning (think: long and slow like steady-state walking) on a weekly basis.
Why both, you ask?
High-intensity intervals help you build anaerobic capacity for short bouts of power and explosives and low-intensity intervals help you build aerobic capacity for longer bouts of sustained effort. Both are important for your overall heart health.
In a nutshell, all of the aforementioned types of conditioning helps to develop cardiovascular endurance, improves stamina, and compliments your strength training. Aim for a total of 3-4x each week (i.e., 1-2x/week for high-intensity and 1-2x/week for low-intensity).
We’ve all heard about the idea that recovery can be a game-changer in your ability to convert the progress you’ve made in the weight room into gains.
Honestly, it’s true.
Think about the absolute worst night of sleep you’ve ever had in your entire life. (Dramatic, I know, but play along).
Imagine just waking up from that. How productive do you think you’d be that day? How much do you think you’d get done? You’d likely feel sluggish, tired, and like luggage.
Now, let’s flip the script. Pretend like you just woke up from the best night of sleep ever. You’d feel refreshed, filled with energy, and ready to hit the ground running.
It’s not rocket science, but it does make a profound impact on your overall health to get to bed early and get a good night of sleep each night.
To provide more context, a good night of rest means that you take sleep as seriously as a baby would: in a setting that is quiet, dark, and cool. Although we hear a lot of the “magic” zone of 6-8 hours each night, it’s more important to hit on those 3 parameters above and to make sure that your sleep is both restful and uninterrupted.
Next up, let’s make sure that you get outside each day with some sunlight exposure. Vitamin D from the sun helps to decrease stress, improve your mood and make you a more awesome overall person. You should even practice mindfulness through reading, writing, meditation or even yoga as a way to support overall stress management on the mind and body.
Lock in and start getting quality sleep, sunlight exposure, and mindfulness practice on a daily basis throughout each week.
The last one is easily the most important one. I’m a strength coach so I tend to prioritize strength training with myself and my athletes. However, I’d be lying if I said that strength training is more important than quality nutrition. The old adage holds true: you are what you eat.
If you want specific nutritional guidance and support, I’d strongly recommend following a quality program, routine or even hiring a coach to help you bridge the gap since this area poses a big challenge for most folks.
For me, I like to keep it simple and focus on the big rocks when it comes to overall consumption and intake by prioritizing the following areas:
- Lean proteins like chicken, fish and turkey
- Vegetables (think: eat the rainbow)
- Complex carbohydrates by choosing multigrains, wheats and similar foods over simple carbohydrates like cookies, cakes and the like
- Adequate water intake (think: the old school method of checking your urine color so that it’s slightly yellow and *not* yellow like a school bus)
- Lastly, avoiding artificial stuff that we all know isn’t benefiting you (Hey, Twinkies! I’m talking to you)
My recommendation is to start with these simple guidelines to begin eating and hydrating on a daily basis like an adult to support your strength, conditioning, and recovery gains.
2022 is your year. Start supporting your New Year’s resolutions by developing consistent health habits in these 4 key areas: strength training 2-3x/week, conditioning 3-4x/week, recovering like a pro each day, and lastly, consuming quality nutrition each day. Keep it simple, build consistency from week to week and the results will come