How does your current fitness level affect your ability to participate in everyday life activities?
How does it affect your options of expressing your fitness in part by participating in, say, a local 5K race, a triathlon, or even going on a hike with friends?
I hear people talk about these things most when they come to see me to get back in shape. Simple things like keeping up with your kids in the park, walking up a flight of stairs, or having enough energy to get through the day without feeling exhausted.
Last month, three members of my gym and I signed up for a triathlon. Unbeknownst to them, when I asked, the event was two weeks out from my invitation. They all said, “Sure! When is it?” I told them, “It’s two weeks from today.” They laughed and said, “Sure, why not? If you think we can do it, we are game.”
What I thought was great about their ease of agreeing to the feat was that they were so confident in their current state of fitness that they believed they could do it. None of them are exclusive endurance athletes, nor am I, but we all work out and train roughly five hours a week regularly. In the two weeks we had to prepare for the race, we all got into the pool at least four times and went for two to three 10-mile bike rides. We all felt ready — kind of.
Come race day, we were laughing about the fact that we had signed up for an Olympic triathlon. One of my members told another race participant how he hadn’t really trained for the event and how nervous he was. It gave me pause, and I thought, “No, you’ve been consistently training without stopping for the last ten years. You are in good enough shape to finish this.” When you get to a certain fitness level, the possibilities of things you can participate in are limitless.
I am not suggesting you sign up to do a triathlon on a whim. But are you thinking about it now? I am a big fan of suffering, so much so that one of the first articles I wrote for this magazine was about it.
Someone asked me before my last race, “Are you going to try and win it?” I laughed and replied, “No.” My reasoning for participating in these long, arduous events is not for the vanity of winning but just the act of completion. And the suffering I have to endure to complete is pure bliss for me.
Does your heart drop a little when your kid asks you to take him to the park to throw the ball around and play? If you are reading this going, “Gosh dang it, he’s talking about me!” Don’t you worry, I got you. The following is a simple nine-week progression for you to get out of “dad bod” mode and into “weekend warrior” mode.
Step one is pretty simple: Make a schedule blocking out three hours a week for you to exercise. You can’t commit a whole hour? No problem — let’s do three 30-minute sessions. Everyone can squeeze in 30 minutes. Weeks one to three are going to be an easy cardio program: 10 minutes of stretching, then 20 minutes of running. Simple as that. It’s an easy start to get your sea legs about you and work on building up a good aerobic base.
Step two: This one will cost you a bit of money, but not too much. Purchase a pair of adjustable dumbbells. Do this during week two of the running and stretching phase of the program so you are ready for the week four weightlifting series. During weeks four to six, you will focus on compound movements, such as dumbbell bench press, front squat, and Romanian deadlifts. Remember — three sessions a week, and they can still be 30 minutes: one day of upper body, one day of lower body, and one day of full body. Google videos on the compound movements and perform 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps. This should get you up to a good base level of strength.
Step three: This is the most important one, and I say the one that will help keep you committed and working towards being ready for anything. Recruit one of your friends in the situation you just got yourself out of and show him “The Way.” Weeks seven to nine will be paramount for you, showing yourself how capable of a mover you have become over the last six weeks and allowing you to inspire a friend to do the same. spt