Fitness Archive, 2023
7/24 "How do I get fit and stay fit without getting burnout, stuck on plateaus, or injured?"
Greetings athletes and exercisists! Thank you for all your questions. I will get to them one by one in the coming months.
The question above is three-dimensional with one main idea: reaching and sustaining fitness ideals longterm amidst the roadblocks and challenges inherent to exercise.
Identity, Not a Goal, Not a Habit
Being healthy, in soul and in physique, is an identity, not a goal or a habit. Sure, it involves goals, sure, habits need to be reengineered. Ultimately, though, inner and outer health must become layers of identity, i.e., neglecting or harming my body is not Me, sedentary is not Me, obesity is not Me, toxic foods are not Me. This starts with reassessing the human examples in your history (from which we absorbed most of our wrong habits and life structures), your true feelings about yourself, the deeper reasons you eat what you do, and so on. If health can become a new identity dimension for you, watch how much easier the technical aspects become, especially avoiding burnout, motivation, and lack of discipline.
Periods & Phasic Emphases
Many people exercise the exact same way season after season after season. This type of monotone, monochrome exercising (what I call "fishbowl exercising") is one of the main causes of diminishing returns, plateaus, and burnout. Periodizing your exercise into diverse mini-seasons or phasic emphases can jumpstart new results and rejuvenate your fascination with what the body can do. Every 6-10 weeks (or whatever time segment fits your fitness purposes) change exercises, or repetitions, or durations, or frequency, or body part emphasis, or muscle groupings, etc. Miniaturizing and fractionating the vague macro concept of "fitness" into specific shortterm goals turns it into a creative building project of building You, as opposed to a monotonous must-do void of creative meaning or joy. This also lowers the injury risk because you are no longer grinding on your muscles and skeletal structure at the exact same angles day after day after day, season after season after season.
Unifitness vs Multifitness, Intensity Distribution
I use the term "unifitness" to describe fitness ideals that are limited to one main mode or zone of the body. For example, during my soccer career my fitness focused on the lower body. We had to run long, run fast, and run with direction-change agility. Not much time or energy was left for a voluminous investment in weightlifting. Competitive athletes in certain sports tend to be unifit, but also normal exercisists who might be interested in only this or that type of fitness, only this or that zone of the body. The term "multifitness", therefore, describes fitness ideals that cover most or all of the body.
This leads us to the concept of intensity distribution. Bottom line: you cannot blast the same muscles two days in a row, regardless of your fitness purposes. The intensity on a particular muscle has to be distributed across three days, roughly. For unifitness exercisists, you'll need to variate the intensity with hard days, light days, and off days. For multifitness exercisists, variate muscle days or muscle-group days. Not only does this lower the chance of injury, but it gives your soul a chance to rejuvenate with interest and passion for the next gut-buster. If you do not distribute the intensity, injury and burnout, even catabolism and loss of fitness, are imminent.
My personal athletics and results went to surprising new levels when I really learned to train intuitively. Our bodies constantly give us intel. It tells us to do more or less; speed up or slow down; what exercise modules work or do not work for our genetic tendencies, skeletal angles, and body type; what is soreness or what is injury; do a light day or take an extra off day; what foods give us better results than others; etc. There are no magic formulas, workouts, or eating plans, just basic scientific absolutes and how you maneuver that science creatively for your individual system. If you can learn to blend scientific information with bodily intuition you can consistently burst through glass ceilings in your fitness journey. And avoid injury. And avoid burning out.
Methodical & Progressive, Not Antsy & Impatient
Reaching and sustaining your fitness ideals will take some time, depending on your current baseline. If you are consistent and work the science properly, gradually your body will conform to the visionary model you have set. Getting antsy or impatient will only nag you towards overtraining, injury, burnout, or all the above. Once again, this is where an identity of all-around health will help you. Goals come and go. Habits are merely behavior-level. But identity is an innermost, driving self-concept that says, "This is who I am for the rest of my life. This is not a goal or a set of behaviors that can easily be discarded or neglected. I can develop my fitness ideals methodically and progressively, no matter how long it takes, because this is truly Me."