The new idea of fitness encompasses all aspects of training and mental attitude
Wellness is all-encompassing. I’ve always believed that if you’re well, you will be fit… but if you’re fit, you may not necessarily be ‘well.’ It’s a juxtaposition and one that makes you sit back and question where you are on the scale, or what you’re actually working towards.
I also believe everybody doesn’t relate to fitness the same way. The problem inevitably is that we tend to look for solutions to tackle all our health-related problems only in the physical realm. As a part of this series for Sports Illustrated India, I’m going to resist the temptation to deviate from this for now, and rather, elaborate on the fitness trends that are taking the world by storm.
I’m going to be talking about trends and not fads—the latter are short-term phenomena that are the flavour of the month, while trends are things that gain momentum slowly, are sustainable and can potentially add incremental value to an existing system or thought process. This is all the more relevant in the sphere of sports and nutrition science, something that I have tried to highlight through my longstanding association with Herbalife Nutrition.
I’m a marathon runner and a believer in minimalist training—commonly known as bodyweight training. Running has a streamlining effect on the body, which inadvertently is contraindicative to put-ting on bulk. It’s the reason most elite marathon runners look as though they are malnourished, even though they have a VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) in the upper 70s. Being a runner, I’m always criticised for not focusing on pure strength, which is a trade-off most runners face on a daily basis. The truth is, there is more than enough scientific evidence that highlights and reinforces the importance of strength training to improve running economy. Strength training is definitely something every 26-miler will need to adopt in her or his quest to get faster.
Bodyweight training leading into calisthenics is fast becoming the workout of choice for most fitness enthusiasts and even some professional athletes. It requires no equipment, very little space and for those constantly crunched for time, 15-20 minutes is more than enough to give you a total full-body workout.
Terms like functional training, boot camps, bikini body workouts, total body workouts and to some extent High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) all borrow their ideology and methodology from the traditional science of bodyweight training. HIIT is the one workout phrase on everyone’s lips these days. It got its popularity from its claim of burning high amounts of calories well beyond the duration of the routine. Fitness programmes such as Cross Fit and apps such as Nike Training and Sweat with Kayla have made this format incredibly popular.
It does, however, come with a few very important caveats. For instance, your risk of injury with anything high-intensity is significantly higher and continues to in-crease proportionately if you are improperly or poorly conditioned.
Secondly, high-intensity training will add stress to the cardiovascular system, which needs to be conditioned over time to withstand such workloads. In fact, re-search has shown that HIIT is a contraindication for people with hypertension and any cardiovascular disease, which by and large rules out more than 60 percent of the population. Last, the high-intensity nature of the training will draw fuel from stored muscle glycogen. Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are the two prerequisites for HIIT.
With wellness fast becoming an industry on its own, trends including barre, pilates, gyrotronics and Soul Cycle are exploding in the West. Yoga, of course, remains highly popular. Even bespoke treadmill and Parkour studios are pop-ping up everywhere.
Each of these training methodologies or protocols approaches movement and training from different angles, but by and large are safer options that allow for more gradual progress, with a lower risk of injury. These trends are expected to grow with society’s increasing awareness around the importance of movement and its associated health benefits.
So, what’s the best way to incorporate these into your existing training regi-men? In the world of professional sport, we have coined the phrase, “It’s the little things that add up,” which means that success isn’t about a ‘magic bullet’ but more about long-term, sustainable solutions executed with discipline and diligence. Professional athletes have high levels of fitness because they approach it with measure and balance in training and nutrition, both of which are extremely important to staying healthy.
If you apply the same philosophy to your training regimen and pick fitness options that limit your risk of injury, options that are exciting, and can easily fit into your daily roster, you’ll be on your way to achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
And when it comes to setting goals, I strongly advise people to create mile-stones that can be ticked off daily, as opposed to weight-gain or weight-loss goals. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to lose five kilos,” which would take more than a month, you could say you want to walk 3o minutes a day and do 100 crunches for 60 days. If you achieve this more direct target, you can achieve any body transformation goal.
How can I build stamina in a few days? I’m competing in a marathon.
Stamina or aerobic endurance is built over a considerable period of time. If you’re running your first marathon, it’s quite difficult to prepare in just a few days but if this is your second marathon, muscle memory should kick in when you’re on the road. I would suggest doing a few slow long runs to test how your body is coping with the workload. If you’re going into a race completely unprepared, you are better-off well-rested and mentally prepared to run a slow, long race. You want to avoid the temptation to run hard in the beginning.