Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
HOPEFULLY by the time you read this things we’ll be improving and restrictions might ease soon but regardless let’s talk about some principles behind building fitness, with or without a gym.
How often should you train and for how long? Three to five days a week depending on your schedule for 30 minutes to an hour. You could do a little longer if you really enjoy it and have time but remember more is not always better just because you have nothing else to do during level 5 restrictions. These days can be a mix of types of exercise. One day might be strength and cardio, another might be cardio and flexibility, a third might be all three if you have time. You won’t always have time to do everything everyday, and that’s ok. As long as you’re making progress you’re doing enough. Speaking of progress…
How hard should you train? If your purpose is improved fitness, hard enough to make progress. If you aren’t making progress (lifting more, going further, feeling better) then you probably aren’t working hard enough or, if you’re less than consistent, not doing it often enough. Take notes, look for and actively try to make progress on the last day or the last week. Training at home this might require some ingenuity where heavier and heavier weights aren’t easy to come by but it can be done (I recently posted some protocols for home workout progression on Instagram and Facebook under the heading “Home workouts suck” if you want some ideas, search @AdamWrightPT).
Minimum effective dose
“But what if I really don’t like home workouts?” Well, closely related to progressive overload is the idea of minimum effective dose. You can flip, “As long as you’re making progress you’re doing enough” to instead be, “do as little as you can get away with but just enough to still make progress”. A lot of people really don’t like home workouts, I get it. Do 30 minutes of strength training (push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges seeking progress as mentioned above) two to three days a week. In this case a little more might be good but if you just can’t face more split squats on the sofa this should be enough to keep you going. As well as that go for a walk, a jog, a cycle or just vigorously dance around the living room for about 30 minutes every day, whether you’re strength training or not.
The components of fitness
“Fitness” is more than just cardio. If you want to get better at running then by all means run, don’t need a gym for that. But if you actually mean fitness as it pertains to being healthy there’s more to it than just pounding the pavement. The “health related components of fitness” are muscular strength and endurance (strength training), body composition (controlled and managed by the balance between calories in and calories out), cardiovascular endurance (running or whatever cardio you enjoy) and flexibility (so don’t forget to stretch). If you’re truly talking about getting fitter without a gym then just because you can’t lift heavy weights at home doesn’t mean you can’t improve your flexibility or work on improving your nutrition for body composition improvements.
So in summary
Gently push limits, regularly enough and with enough force to encourage change but not cause injury. Keep workouts simple and short – Minimum effective dose – More is not always better. Fitness is more than just cardio or lifting heavy weights, there are other aspects you can work on without a gym. But if you want to feel strong and look toned you need some muscle. Muscle is built and maintained through use: Strength training of some kind, even if all you have at the moment is bodyweight, is how you’ll achieve this. It is absolutely possible to build fitness of all kinds without the gym, you might just need to want it a little bit more though. Have a great week! Adam.