Once you are no longer in the thick of a competitive athletic pursuit, a new philosophy for long term sustainable fitness is worth consideration. High level competitive sport will only be viable for so long in a man’s life. At some point a change in thinking about one’s physical development is warranted. Moving from a peak specialized nature to a more functional and well-rounded level of conditioning is necessary to become a complete man.
After all, the vast majority of a man’s life will be spent outside of those glorious years when he is at his absolute physical prime. And of course, there is much more to a complete life than sport and physical bearing. Eventually family, career, finances, education, faith and fulfillment will pervade your character and require significant attention.
However, physical conditioning should always play a significant role in the foundation for pursuing and becoming the very best you can be over your lifetime. To that end, developing and maintaining power, explosiveness, speed and endurance will pay tremendous dividends. These qualities will bleed into every aspect of your long term success. They will provide you with exceptional energy and the capacity for going all out mentally, physically and spiritually when necessary.
Here are the 5 considerations required to maintain a high level of physical conditioning over the long term, critical to maximizing your potential:
It always seems like such a shame to see the former greats in sport many years later, physically falling apart. Perhaps this is the price that has to be paid sometimes for athletic glory. Even for the rest of us who are not elite level athletes, the same fate of physical deterioration will result if we are not smart.
Consider your physical conditioning as a long term endeavor. Your training and practice should be viable for years, even decades. Employing improper form, overtraining or allowing your short term ego to drive your efforts can result in eventual breakdown and permanent injury. The overriding goal should be a sustainable year round regimen so that you can maintain the mental and physical momentum of exercise—and stay healthy, strong and fit for your whole life.
To start, always warm up properly and make the proper form in your workouts an obsession. Don’t ever subordinate form to performance as you might have as a competitor in the heat of battle. Second, resist the temptation to over train by making sure to recover properly between workouts; as such you will need to be smart about your training schedule. And finally, take the time to heal if you start realizing an injury or breakdown. Be patient and willing to recalibrate your progress so that you can avoid serious debilitating setbacks.
Underlying all the mechanics and scheduling of your training regimen is what you eat each and every day. Consider your nutrition as the fuel for all that you do both physically and mentally. Eating a typically rich modern diet will drain your immediate energy and sabotage your health in the long run.
Eat as a superior man with purpose and precision. Keep it simple by eating whole foods. Eliminate wheat and refined sugar and minimize the consumption of alcohol. Eat your fill of beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, nuts and fruits. Restrict your beverages to water, coffee and tea.
Our evolutionary heritage will favor these types of foods. And as a man you will avoid the estrogenic nature of processed foods and consume the proper macro and micro nutrients to promote high levels of testosterone, growth hormone and insulin sensitivity. Eliminating wheat and the excess of other simple carbohydrates prevalent in modern consumption will also help to minimize inflammation and prevent injury.
If you happen to be overweight, go hardcore and cut weight like a man. Consume the same foods above, but at a 25% caloric deficit. There is no excuse for an intelligent masculine man to carry around excess body fat. Of special note is that excess visceral or belly fat will lead to increased estrogen levels. In contrast, maintaining a lean and muscular frame will minimize estrogen production and keep your testosterone and energy levels naturally elevated.
In the prime of your youth, it is natural to push yourself to the limit. The competitive nature of year round training for excelling as an athlete encourages extreme levels of physical and skill development. As elite competitors many men will indeed go all out for many hours, five to six days a week. If you are a collegiate or professional athlete or have the opportunity to become one, then this type of commitment is certainly necessary and worthwhile.
For the long term, however, a more moderate and healthy program should be employed. When physical fitness becomes part of your complete character rather than necessary for a game, it is time to take the long view. Your goal should be to develop and maintain high levels of physical conditioning and “outlast them all.” It will do you no good to peak after several years and then start falling apart because of overtraining.
My philosophy is to schedule workouts every other day, alternating between High Intensity Interval Training and Resistance Training. This will give you 48 hours between each session and 4 days between each type of workout. You can go full throttle every other day and come back fully recuperated each time.
Make sure to work your abdominals every day to maintain focus and a rock solid core. Fifty to one hundred sit-ups or crunches will do. But giving yourself a day off between workouts will allow you to train hard for years, perhaps your whole life.
Besides the benefits from sufficient recuperation, this schedule is sustainable in terms of time management and mental fatigue as well. You will fresh and chomping at the bit, looking to forward to each workout for years.
4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
As discussed above, as a man develops other priorities during his lifetime there are only so many hours to spend in the gym, at the track or on the road. So budget your time wisely to attain superior results by using High Intensity Interval Training.
With an appropriate warm up to avoid injury, you will realize superior life benefits by setting a time limit to your workouts and focusing on HIIT as opposed to traditional time intensive cardiovascular programs. Plus you are likely to be more consistent over the long term through a more modest time commitment.
Get in, get it done and get out. Lift, sprint and spar intensely. Increase your power, explosiveness and capacity. Add some muscle mass to your frame, look and feel great. This type of training will imbue you with energy and high levels of testosterone. Long durations of endurance exercise will reduce muscle mass, lower your testosterone, steal your valuable time and drain your energy.
In terms of HIIT there is nothing like carrying your own body weight to develop functional conditioning and explosiveness. Two of the simplest and easiest ways to do so at the “home gym” are through wind sprints and bag work. No expensive membership or fancy equipment necessary. Concentrate on these two training methods and you will distinguish yourself physically among men. You will develop and maintain the ability to go all out and recover quickly, a fine addition to your persona as you walk around day to day.
5. Resistance Training
In line with the home gym sprinting and bag work, get yourself 300 or more pounds of weights, a barbell and a weight bench or squat rack. Spend a few hundred dollars that will last you a lifetime and pay you back many times over.
By having a weight set at home to go along with your heavy bag, you will make it quick and easy to get 20 to 40 minutes of lifting or sparring in every other day. No drive out to the gym necessary, no membership dues, no waiting around for availability and no numbskulls. Get in and get out, no excuses.
Concentrate on compound barbell lifts. Put your frame under the duress of heavy weights and force it to adapt. Your body will do so by producing additional testosterone and adding muscle mass. The goal is not to be a bodybuilder or power lifter, but to add and maintain functional body strength throughout your lifetime.
Be smart about how you exercise to stay fit for the long term. Learn what to eat and avoid the seduction of wheat, sugar and alcohol. Create and follow a sustainable workout regimen designed for optimal masculine health, functional physical conditioning and proper recuperation. Combine the power from compound lifting with the explosiveness and aerobic recovery from High Intensity Interval Training. Follow this simple program and you will develop a formidable physical presence. You will distinguish yourself from the masses and maintain a rare physical prowess well into your later years.