There is something significant about the number 3. Taking three deep breaths, the phrase ‘third time’s a charm,’ and the various trinity references in religion and spirituality, just to name a few.
The number 3 also plays a big part in the fitness realm. As in three main components of improving your fitness: strength training, cardio and nutrition.
• #1 Strength Training Also called weight training and resistance training, this refers to any weight-bearing exercises, including body weight
• #2 Cardio Exercises that challenge and strengthen the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, helping to increase exercise endurance, fat loss, weight loss and overall health
• #3 Nutrition This a broad term that refers to food, drink and supplement intake. This can also be referred to as “diet”, but the act of dieting and your actual diet are not the same thing
*The act of dieting is restricting yourself to small amounts food, special kinds of food, and/or eliminating certain foods in order to lose weight, most often on a temporary time-period.
WHICH TO PRIORITIZE?
All three elements of fitness are just as important as the other, because all three play a part in your success. Each element must be in line with what your goals are in order for you to reach those goals – even if that means eating a surplus of calories and eliminating cardio for a short period of time.
If your goals are to gain muscle or gain a certain amount of weight, you still need to pay attention to your calories and what you are doing with your workouts (strength training and cardio) in order to be successful with your goal. Often, someone may only focus on one or two elements and neglect one or two of the others. This is a big mistake.
If someone is looking to gain muscle, for example, he or she may only focus on lifting heavy and neglect to see what they are doing with their nutrition and cardio. If you aren’t tracking your calories, for example, you have no idea how much of what kinds of food you’re eating. Just like if you are sporadically doing cardio but not tracking what you’re doing for cardio, or what the intensity level is or how frequent your sessions are, you won’t know why your body is or isn’t responding.
The bottom line – you are looking for specific results but throwing caution to the wind on how to get them. If you are looking for specific results, then you have to be specific on your approach to getting them.
TRACKING IS CRUCIAL
Even if you eliminate cardio for a period of time with plans to reintroduce it later on after you’ve gained a little muscle, cardio is still an element of your fitness program. Cardiovascular exercise is a variable you can manipulate (increasing it, decreasing it, eliminating it etc.) quite a bit for specific results, but you need to track your cardio – even noting when you omit it from your program completely and for how long. This way, you can assess your progress without cardio, which will help you determine how to slowly reintroduce it and assess how your body responds as you add cardio sessions back in.
The same is true for nutrition. Even if you are in a period of gaining muscle, it is just as critical to track what you eat and how much of it so that you can have a clear understanding of how much of a surplus your body can handle, or how much of a surplus your body needs in order to achieve a certain goals. Unless you keep track of all three elements of fitness, you won’t know what your body is responding to or what changes should be made to which element of fitness in order to elicit a certain outcome.
BEGINNING, MIDDLE AND END
One big mistake I feel people make when it comes to their fitness program is not having a clear beginning, middle or end (another set of threes!). Yes, fitness is a process – a lifelong journey – which means there really isn’t a beginning, a middle and an end depending on how you look at it.
But with no end in sight, it is difficult to take steps forward and the process can be too overwhelming for some to even begin. There needs to be some kind of end goal so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment. The key is to set goals in small doses at a time. For example, set a three-month goal so that there is a clear first phase (month 1), a second phase (month 2), then a third and final phase (month 3).
After the three months are over, you can assess where you are, what you’ve achieved and what you’d like to accomplish next. Then you can plan on how you will accomplish that by adjusting your ‘Big Three’ to suit your goals.
HOW TO TACKLE YOUR BIG THREE
Here are five ways you can stay on top of all three areas of your fitness routine in 2017:
1. Have a clear, structured plan for your strength training, cardio and nutrition.
2. Plan out what you will be doing for all three areas every week.
3. Track your workouts and your nutrition every week, as well as your progress.
4. Assess your progress after a certain time period (every 2-4 weeks, for example)
5. Adjust your strength training, cardio and/or nutrition if necessary, as necessary and adjust according to your results and your goals.
Tip Me Tuesday: Don’t Slack Off Through The Holidays
Tip Me Tuesday: The All-Or-Nothing Trap
Tip Me Tuesday: The Cost Of Health
Tip Me Tuesday: The Struggle Is Real
Tip Me Tuesday: Know Your Body Inside And Out
Tip Me Tuesday: No Pain, No Gain (Sometimes)
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.