The SunnyFitness Workout Tips series continues!
If you haven’t read the first 20 tips, you can do so HERE!
Table of Contents
(click on the titles below to quickly jump to the specific tip)
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #21
Many higher level fitness goals require consistent, hard work for month or even years. It can be boring, just doing similar exercises, following the slowly progressing plan like a robot. Thats it, there is no magic shortcut. Dont worry even in this case, an optimal dose of training relaease a lot of ’happiness hormones’ to feel good.
Some people tolerate this long journey well and enjoy this process. For other people its very hard to show up consistently and execute the plan. For them the missing link can be the ’fun factor’! When the training is not a ’have to do activity’ but more like a playful time, like for the kids.
The good news is that you can any time add more playful, improvisative elements in your workout!
The other solution is to have improvisative full workouts with various intensity (like the fartlek running) from time to time. Preferably with complex movements and not the standard strenght exercises.
Include some crawling, balancing, jumping, throwing-juggleing tennis balls, dancing or whatever feels good in the warmup, cool down or between sets of heavy lifting or running intervalls. In a long distance running why not to stop and climb a tree, do a few push-ups or throw stones on a target.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #22
Have a daily light movement practice
A significant part of the muscle-joint pains, stiffness could be preventable if everyone would do a daily few minutes of light, full body movement practice.
It can be in the morning after waking up, in the midday or evening when you feel a bit tired. Or even multiple times a day.
Move the spine, head, hip, legs, ankles, shoulders, arms, wrists slowly with muscle control (no momentum) in full range of the joints from head to toe.
It can be a routine exercise sequence but its worth to try new elements from time to time as well!
If you feel pain, stiffness somewhere, spend a bit more time there.
This few minutes of movement practice keeps the liquids flowing, the mucles and brain active, ready for action. It can give a refreshing sensation anytime.
Get ideas for this simple full body exercises from yoga, pilates, natural movements, gymnastics! Or check my 5 min warmup routines on YouTube!
Do you have a daily light movement routine?
Dont rush and connect the movement with your breathing!
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #23
Strenght over muscle mass
Of course its a grey area not so black&white. Depends on the individuals fitness goals (like bodybuilding) and the current body composition.
For general fitness for life and most sports, I think a good level of strenght with lower bodyweight is more beneficial than having big muscles.
- Big muscles are more energy consuming, they need more energy (food).
- Big muscles need more oxigen, its not beneficial for endurance performance.
- Big muscles are heavy, which is not beneficial for climbing, sprinting.
- You cant reach your maximal absolute strenght and athletic potential without having some muscles.
- With aging, over 40-50 people lose muscle mass (sarcopenia), and they can also develop osteoporosis. The bodybuilding stlye training can slow down or stop this undesirable processes.
- For many sports, its worth to build some muscle then make it more strong, explosive and enduring.
Strenght and big muscles can come together as well. Bigger muscles usually mean more strenght.
The opposite is not always true. You can be strong but not necessarily big.
Strenght is also a neuronal stuff. How much muscle fibers you can fire and how fast.
The neuronal efficiency of the muscles are sleepy if they are not trained regularly or if there is no emergency situation.
With proper strenght training you can highly improve this neuronal efficiency.
Developing strenght and some muscle mass can be both important. If you like to progress in both, make the strenght exercises first (in one training session or in one week) with the big resistance, low repetitions (1-5). Then in the second part of the training (or second half of the week) make more body building type trainings with medium loads and higher repetitions (6-30).
Read the full blog post: Strengh or muscle mass? That is the question!
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #24
Specialize only if…
The human body can and should move in a variety of ways. We can walk, run, swim, climb, crawl, lift, throw, jump, fight, dance, balance etc. And there are much more movement opportunities with the modern sport tools and equipments. Human is the handyman in the movement.
If you like to practice one particular sport or if you are a competitive athlete, its fine, have fun!
Just don’t forget the hundreds of other movement possibilities and practice them also from time to time.
Or make ’off-season’, base building training cycles sometimes where you focus more on movement skills, basic strenght, speed, endurance development.
There is always a next level in each until you are going close to your maximal potential.
For general fitness purposes, being fit for life, I think its a good idea to focus on this base building workouts 80-90% of the time. This way you can enjoy your favourite sport on a higher level, longer duration and with less injury risk. And you will be more versatile, more adaptable for any life situations.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #25
Build a new process with each workout
It’s worth looking at each workout as a new process to build from the ground up. Incidentally, this applies to racing too. Then from the top you can slowly descend back to “normal” life.
No matter how much training you have done before, in order to perform at your best current level, it is always a good idea to gradually get to the main part of the training with a pre-workout ritual and warm-up.
During the warm-up, prepare your muscles, joints, circulation, specific nervous system function and reach a state of “flow” in a sensible, humble and gradual way. When the outside world and distractions almost disappear and you can concentrate 100% on the current workout.
Then the workout becomes a real pleasure and you have a good chance of getting the best out of the day. Once you’ve done that, you can go home feeling satisfied, with useful work in the bag and still motivated for the next session.
A post-workout cool-down is also a good idea, although it’s more likely to be skipped than the warm-up if you’re pressed for time. A minute or two of slow, controlled breathing or a few yoga exercises is something I hope everyone has time for.
Arrive to your workout on time so you don’t have to rush or cut the warm-up or the work part. This way you can “sharpen” yourself at your own pace. Also, you can use customized tune-up routines, either with warm-up exercises, music or pre-workout meals and coffee, to get you into optimal condition.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #26
Consider doing at least some of your trainings outdoors, if you spend most of your life inside the 4 walls. In the nature’s gym. In a local park, forest, riverside, beach etc.
This way you can hit two (multiple) birds with one stone. You get your workout and the essential natural elements (sun, fresh air, immune system stimulation with some dirt etc.)
Its common with the modern lifestyle the people have very little sun exposure during the day and they see too much alien sun day&night (artificial lights, mobile phone-pc screens). Your health, mood, energy levels will be grateful if you spend more times outdoors!
With some creativity and if neccessary equipments (rings, TRX, kettlebells, stones as weights) its possible to do almost any kind of training in the outdoor gym as well!
Running on a treadmill? Sorry, I prefer running outdoors…
If the conditions (terrain, tempreture) allows it, train barefoot! (check Tip #19). Nobody was born in shoes, the biomechanics of the muscles and joints prefer this natural state.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #27
Take an extra day off
This is one of the hardest mental challenge, if you are motivated, like to work hard but currently you have a small injury or you are not progressing for a while.
Your body is sending signals but probably you dont listen. It can happen with everyone and sometimes we should also do things from willpower.
The question is always there: is it worth it? Risk/benefit ratio…
If you play the game long term, would like to be fit even at age 100 or you were training continuosly the last years…Then you have time or enough reserve to skip 1-2 days extra.
This way you can continue refreshed and hopefully the body is ready to adapt the new workload. Train as much as your body can adapt. Not more, not less. Are you strong enough to skip a workout if you are too tired but very motivated?
If you have a lot of extra life stress, super busy schedule, not slept enough the last days then its a high chance that the training will not go well. Skip 1-2 more days or make just a light workout.
PS. Dont use this tip if you are simply just lazy! 😉
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #28
Eat enough protein and energy
Our body need food to support the daily energy requirements (fats, carbs) and constant structural reparation processes (protein, micronutrients). Even if we are laying in the bed all day. If we work all day or train hard, we need more from all.
A healthy human body is very adaptable, a real survival machine. It can work well for a while even without food or with suboptimal nutrition but in the long run this can cause less energy, lack of progress in training, delayed regeneration, constant fatigue, injuries, lack of motivation for doing sports, etc.
What happens when we give constantly all what it really need? Kind of the oppposite! Of course nutrition is just one part of the game.. Think also about the importance of sleep, hydration, stress management, sun, nature time.
As overeating exist, undereating as well. So if you are not sick who prefer fasting, not a bodybuilder going for super low body fat nor an athlete trying to fit in a weight class, then the low calorie and/or low protein diets are usually not wise ideas.
If you were training hard, your body deserves the extra building blocks and fuel. Eat enough protein and feel free to eat energy as well (fats, carbs). If the food is mostly natural, minimally processed and the leptin hormone signalling works well, you dont have to count and its hard to overeat, the body will optimize the hunger.
Build the meals around the protein, distribute the daily requirement in 1-4 meals. The rest of the food is for the energy (fats, carbs). The amount depends on the activites of the current and previous days (eg. regeneration after heavy workout).
A healthy amount of protein intake is around 1.0-1.8g/kg of bodyweight/day, depending on fitness goals, training intensity. More than 1.8 is not necessarily better, only for certain athletes who train a lot.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #29
Keep the balance with antagonist exercise pairing
- Doing bench press or push-ups only for bigger chest and shoulders?
- Doing biceps curls only for bigger arms?
- Doing squats, hip thrust exercises only for more muscular butt?
- Doing unlimited ab exercises to get a six pack?
I have a bad news. They can work for a while but in the long run, the progress may stop and even unexpected injuries may develop.
We have nicely designed opposite muscle groups, movement patterns (antagonists) to keep the musculature in balance. Relatively weak antagonist muscles can limit the force production, strenght development.
In the upper body is more obvious, we can push or pull in different angles. Pair a pushing exercise with a pulling one! Vary the angles (vertical, horizontal). Also pair the biceps exercises with triceps.
For most people the best is to do it within one workout. For more advanced athletes, who are doing training splits, its ok to have separate push and pull days with higher volume. But they also balance out this 2 movements within one week! So dont be a pushing or pulling guy only!
In the lower body its not so black and white. Both with the 2 basic, the squat and deadlift (hip hinge) like movements the whole leg is working but in different ratios. So its worth to practice both for balanced and continuous development. Here its more forgiving, you can focus on one in one training cycle and next on the other one. Or make a squat focused workout one day in a week and a deadlift focused on the other day.
Squat or deadlift? Unfair question, usually we like them both. Of course it depends on individual muscle composition level, goals. However if we have to choose, I would vote for the squats! Preferably the full range version. Its more functional for everyday life and transfers better for runnnig, jumping, makes the abs, spinal erectors strong enough as well if you need to lift the sofa one day.
SUNNYFITNESS TIPS #30
Too much sitting can make you tired, unflexible, rusty and even sick.
You’re as old as your spine. And as old as your flexibility, mitochondrial energy system etc…
The average modern human spends 4-12 hours a day sitting in chairs, sofa or while traveling. Do you think our musculoskeletal system is designed for this? Big NO!
The curved back, gadgets neck, and gadgets fingers, stiffnes in some body parts are modern problems.
Natural peoples sit on the ground in a variety of postures or resting in squatting position and probably they never heard about these issues.
The problem is not the sitting on a chair itself. A healthy body can tolerate it for a while.
The problem is sitting in the same position for hours and years! And also doing always the same movements.
This way our body becomes professional in that particular position, movement patterns and everthing else will feel weird or even dangerous.
The solutions? There are many!
- If you have to sit for prolonged time, try to change the position frequently.
- Make few minutes of brake from sitting and move your body from time to time!
- Make sure you keep a good posture even while sitting and regularly re-organize your posture during the day.
- Hang a few seconds at least if there is a bar, tree branch around.
- And of course walk, have a mobility routine, exercise every day at least 10-20 min.
Spend a few minutes a day in deep squat positions too! And also practice sitting on the ground at home in various positions. For example, while reading, brushing your teeth, checking your phone, etc.
What is your best “seat antidote”?
Further anti-sitting and office work tips in the SunnyFitness – Body Maintenance book!
Join the next SunnyFitness camp for more Fitness Tips and lifetime experiences!