You may be spending way too much time trying to get fit. It’s not that fitness isn’t worthwhile. Obviously, it is. The problem is, your strategy might not be the most efficient, anatomically speaking, and so you may be working out for much longer than needed and getting a fraction of the results that you desire.
These days, the universal fitness strategy is based on looking fit, which means it all comes down to appearance. If you’re lean, taut, muscular, etc., you’re perceived as being in shape though, in reality, you may not be. Scientifically, we know the real key to fitness is the following formula, in order of importance: nutrition, hydration, and activity. What you eat and drink really does affect how you look more than what you do. How you work out impacts what you eat and how much you drink.
When most people exercise, they are not utilizing a full range of motion. In other words, you may not be compelling your load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees and ankles) to move in all directions. When you go for a run, walk, or bike ride, your hips move in only one direction (forward), while your shoulders generally don’t move at all. At the gym, you may do an array of exercises and a multitude of reps, but how often do you lift your arms above your head or rotate your torso in either direction or move your body sideways?
When you move your load-bearing joints in all the directions, as they were designed to do, you increase your basal metabolism, which helps the body generate heat internally. One result of that is thirst. Strange as it may sound, many people who exercise often suffer from dehydration. They’re not drinking enough because their thirst mechanism is malfunctioning, and that’s happening because their bodies, especially the lymph system, are retaining fluid.
Those fluids are the reason why you can’t get rid of those saddlebags on your hips and pudge around your gut—no matter how many miles you run. By generating internal heat from an increased basal metabolism, you break down those fluids, releasing them from your body and achieving a leaner look.
More importantly, once you get rid of those fluids, your body’s thirst mechanism returns to normal, enabling you to reach adequate hydration levels, and that has a manifold impact on your appearance and fitness. Parents often ask the strength and conditioning coach at Stanford University football, Shannon Turley, what supplements their high school children should be taking. “Water,” he says. “It’s the only supplement they need.” He’s right, but the body has to be prepared to receive that hydration properly.
If you are not using a full range of motion when you exercise, your body works in a compensatory fashion. That is, it does not recruit the major muscles originally designed to do the work, but rather just the smaller muscles that don’t require as much energy to function. Part of this is also the result of a compromised posture. Working out in a manner that promotes a full range of motion can overcome postural deficiencies and compel you to activate those large muscles.
For instance, when most people perform push-ups, they rely on their biceps and forearms to do the work. However, when you’re properly aligned, push-ups are a great total-body workout that engages larger muscles, especially your abs, which in turn expends much more energy. When you put those bigger muscles to work, you alter the body’s cravings for fuel. They need the protein and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables (and water) to recover. A pizza or chips or other empty calories simply won’t suffice. Having more than 40 years of experience in the fitness world (much of it working with some of the world’s top athletes), I know this to be true.
All of these reasons are why I’m excited to announce that I have teamed up with Sonima to introduce Elev8d Fitness, an exercise platform that we will launch in the new year. Elev8d Fitness is predicated on 8 Core Movements that compel a full range of motion in fun routines that take only 8, 16 or 24 minutes. The workouts will improve your fitness, no matter your level, and they can be used as a warm-up to additional activity.
The exercises are arranged in a very specific order, which helps align your body, and they are designed so that you will be able to do them even if you do have a bum knee or sore shoulder. In other words, Elev8d is for everyone, including the super busy and non-busy, those with aches and without, and longtime fitness junkies as well as folks just starting out or coming back after a long hiatus.
The only requirement is that folks do an Elev8d routine at least four times a week. Might sound like a lot, but it isn’t given the short duration of each workout. A body responds to the stimulus it’s provided, and our stimuli is based on a seven-day cycle. Whatever that cycle entails for you, your body adapts. If the body is going to respond effectively to a new routine that involves a full range of motion, then that routine needs to happen regularly, thereby, convincing the body that there’s a change to the daily stimulus pattern it receives.
Elev8d is also predicated on fun. I have long said that two essential ingredients to fitness are full range of motion and fun. I am extremely excited about the advent of Elv8d and hope you are, too. Fitness really can be more enjoyable and less time-consuming than we’ve come to think. Just wait and see!
>>Find a new way to move! Sign-up for a free 14-day trial with Elev8dFitness.com, a whole-body postural approach to fitness and functional wellness.
By Pete Egoscue