If you want to lift more, run faster, or just breathe easier than you have to train the right way. Unlike other athletic aspirations, I believe that when the goal is to get stronger & fitter, the type of training you do is slightly more important than your diet.
The amazing thing about striving to be stronger is that the competition will never stop. You will always have your yesterdays-self to compete with, your age will never matter. Your age will never matter because, in fitness, there is always at least one way to improve yourself.
- Goal Setting
- Training for Strength
- Training for Fitness
- Resistance Training
- Rest & Recovery
- Eating & Supplementation
- Eating Right (Enough & Timing)
- Supplement Minimally
- Learn to Love the Process
- Safe Practices & Longevity
The absolute first thing you need to decide is your goals. This is crucial because your goal will dictate everything from how you train to how you plan.
To set an effective athletic goal, you want to use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goal setting system. The SMARTER goal setting system helps you break down your goals into 7 important aspects, allowing you to set yourself up for achievement.
The SMARTER Goal Setting System
Training for Strength
If you are training to get strong, then why not train like the strongest among us. This means not wasting time in the gym with movements that only satisfy ego and don’t bring you towards your goal. To train for strength, you have to train for & with power.
Powerlifting, it’s a form of training designed to develop as much strength as you possibly can, specifically with three lifts; The Bench Press, The Deadlift & the Barbell Back Squat.
These three lifts are fundamental in gaining strength, and mastering them should be your priority. And what does mastering something requires? It requires all of a person.
As a strength focused athlete, you are going to want to keep your rep ranges lower while focusing more on explosiveness & power. Whether you create your own plan or purchasing one, you want to make sure it is solely focused on getting you to lift more weight every day.
**Golden Rep Range Ratio for Strength: 3–8 reps per set, but typically under 6. A 5 X 5 routine is a great place to start!
Strength Oriented Progressive Overload
Progressive Overload (P.O) is gradually increasing the levels of stress on the body or certain muscle groups over time. When a plan has progressive overload incorporated into it, then by following that plan, and staying up to date with it, you are guaranteed to move towards your respective goal.
Progressive Overload can be applied to a plan in a number of ways. You can gradually increase anything that you can record data for. This could be increasing the reps or the weight, increasing your overall time under tension, decreasing the rest time between sets, and increasing or decreasing the lengths of your workouts.
Resistance training is the form of exercise where you push and pull against resistance, resistance can come in many forms like; gravity, your body weight, elastic bands, some machines, weights (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells & really anything with weight).
Anything that brings significant stress to muscles, forcing them to adapt, can be considered as resistance training. But what happens when the weight you lift everyday stays the same? You not only don’t get stronger, you actually get weaker both mentally & physically. This is why randomly doing resistant training is not enough, you need a plan that utilizes something called progressive overload.
If you are looking to maximize the efficiency of strength gains, then I recommend starting with a powerlifting exercise routine. If you are looking to gain strength over a longer period of time, while also working on other athletic abilities, than really any consistent resistance training will yield you the results you are looking for.
Training for Fitness
Cardio, Endurance & Resistant Training
Getting fitter is a gradual and ongoing process, so your plan & lifestyle should reflect that. Someone who is truly fit has been able to develop their abilities in a wide range of athletic areas, like; cardio, muscular endurance & flexibility.
Cardio for Fitness & Endurance: When you are cardio training for fitness and endurance, time & intensity are the factors you want to pay attention to. Activities like long distance running, hiking, swimming, and biking are amazing forms of cardio.
Just like a strength training program, your cardio plan should be utilizing progressive overload. In cardio, this could be increasing the length of the workout, the intensity & the resistance.
Rest & Recovery
Like in any athletic endeavor, you have to remember that you are human, and humans need rest. The truth behind rest & recovery is that once a muscle is significantly stressed, it will take 48–72 hours to fully recover. So if you train your chest on a Monday, you shouldn’t exclusively target it again until Wednesday or Thursday. This means you need to create your own or purchase a plan that provides adequate rest.
Without the proper fuel, your body won’t be running at its full potential. You need to eat right.
This means eating enough and not too much, while also ensuring you aren’t missing out on any essential nutrients. For instance, if you are burning an average of 1000 calories per day by running, you need to ensure you are consuming food that provides a minimum of 1000 calories. But not just the right amount of food. The right times as well.
Timing: Without getting too far into the science behind it, your body can be described as always being in a fed state or fasted state. These refer to the type of metabolic process that is occurring within your body at any given time. A fed state, as you probably guessed, is when you have been fed. What’s special about this metabolic state, is that your body’s primary energy source are the calories you just consumed. The fasted state, on the other hand, is when your body’s primary energy source is previously stored fat cells.
We can control our transition between a fed and fasted state by choosing the times we eat. If your goal is to get stronger and fitter, you need to, minimally, have a slight caloric surplus. This ensures you have enough energy intake to maintain your previously built muscle and enough to recover adequately from your next work out.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to plan. Failing to plan, is planning to fail.
A meal plan will save you time, money & from a ton of headaches, while also holding you accountable. Because committing to becoming fitter and stronger is not just a goal, but a lifestyle change, you only really need to measure your caloric intake/output at the beginning. This allows you to calculate the average daily amount of calories you will need while training, also known as your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
The three things you need to calculate your average TDEE;
- A kitchen scale
- Accuweight on Amazon is $18.99 w/ Batteries included
- A nutrient tracking app
- I use the free app Chronometer
- An active fitness regimen/routine
Have a plan already? Check out 5 Ways to Make Your Meal Prep Easier
As the header of this part suggests, supplements should remain supplements.
Although some supplementation can make a little difference, most of what you see on the shelf is literal garbage. Two supplements I can personally vouch for are clean vegan protein powders/weight gainers, and a plant-based multivitamin.
Drinking a plant-based weight gainer can be a quick, easy and healthy way to consume an extra 500–1000 calories per day. At the same time, however, real food is always a better option. Make sure that if you decide to take protein powder or weight gainer, that it doesn’t become a meal replacement.
Taking a multivitamin is the easiest way to ensure you aren’t missing any of the important micronutrients. If you are on a weight gaining journey, its typically best to have a meal plan because it provides convenience, nutrient & calorie data. At the same time, a meal plan can also decrease the diversity of foods in your diet, making it slightly more likely you’ll miss some micronutrients. The multivitamin I choose is 100% Vegan, affordable & dangerously tasty; Herbaland’s Gummy Multivitamins for Adults.
Learn to Love the Process
As I’ve tried to stress throughout this post, committing to get fitter & stronger will be a complete lifestyle change. The beautiful thing about fitness is you can always progress in one way or another.
If you are brand new to fitness, you should see results within the first week of living your new lifestyle. I remember like it was yesterday when I fell in love with fitness after truly realizing I had the power to literally change myself for the better.
Safe Practices & Longevity
One more thing to keep in mind during your journey is being safe & training for longevity. You want to implement safe practices like regular stretching and a few dynamic movements to your workout routine. You don’t want your muscles to become stiff and optimized for only one motion, that’s the perfect recipe for injury.
Also, refrain from Ego-lifting. Ego-lifting can show up in a variety of ways from forcing yourself to finish a set with shotty form to focusing on how you look doing the exercise, instead of how you feel.
Until Next time, Strive to Thrive!
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