How Shelter-In-Place Changed Coach Andy’s Approach To Fitness
By Coach Andy
The thing about fitness is you never quite have it figured out. There’s always a new workout program, a new trend and your goals are always shifting. Maybe you find yourself looking back at pictures while thinking, “I thought I was in terrible shape then… what I would give to just be there now.”
Believe me this is totally normal - even for professional coaches. Over the past decade, my philosophies and strategies have constantly evolved, but it’s hard to pinpoint a single event in that time that has impacted my views quite as much as the current shelter-in-place.
In the past several months, the circumstances of the ‘new normal’ have challenged my beliefs on training, nutrition and programming:
1. Training: You don’t need to lift (that) heavy.
I have been in the fitness industry since I was 18 years old and always took a systematic approach which focused primarily on a principle called “progressive overload.” This is a concept that develops muscular strength, endurance and size by consistently increasing the demand, by adding more weight, sets, reps, etc. Now don’t get me wrong – this is both effective and critical in a strength program. However, I have realized we likely need much less than we think to actually achieve vitality, mobility and strength.
I significantly reduced the volume of overload and traditional strength workouts by swapping them out for higher intensity, shorter body weight workouts, hikes and outdoor recreational activities. After about 6 weeks, I started to feel stronger, more agile and more consistent energy throughout the day.
The Science: When you load the body and work towards your maximum effort, you begin to tax the central nervous system. It is important to allow the body the right amount of time to recover and not overload the system to prevent overtraining, which can ultimately lead to excessive fatigue, decreased performance, and many other chronic issues.
2. Nutrition: Locally grown food could be a total game-changer!
With new supermarket protocols and wanting to support local producers during this time, I was getting my protein (chicken, beef, pork and eggs) primarily from a local rancher who focuses on pasture-raised animals and a local farm that both sources and grows fresh produce. I could not only taste, smell and see the difference in quality, but soon after making these changes I felt my recovery improve and my performance increase in my workouts.
The Science: Locally grown food typically is picked much closer to peak ripeness which leads to the most amount of nutrients to fuel your body and strengthen your immune system.
3. Programming: Stop exercising so much and start moving more.
Now, I get this might be a little confusing so let’s break it down:
- Exercise is structured, intentional sequencing that will help you develop strength, stability and power.
- Movement is any time you are doing physical activity and moving your body but isn’t necessarily structured.
Exercise can definitely count as part of your daily movement, but it won’t combat being sedentary all day. Movement can be anything from a 15-minute stretch break, taking a walk, going for a run, playing golf, pretty much anything that doesn’t involve sitting in a chair.
So when thinking about your ‘program’ or how you will plan your week, consider adding in more activities that will get you moving throughout the day and incorporate activities you enjoy doing.
The Science: Movement will increase blood flow to the body all the way down to a cellular level which can improve recovery, muscular development and even stimulate your lymphatic system which is responsible for fighting infection.
Outdoor activities can also increase your vitamin D levels through sun exposure. Vitamin D has been linked to increased energy, decreased body fat, enhanced immune system and overall improved health.
If you’re like many of my clients, you might be thinking “Andy, this is all great information but what do I do with it? Can you just tell me what to do!”
Well, here are a few tips you could implement to see some major benefits:
- Go for a run (2-3x per week)
- Walk for 15-30 minutes a day
- Do chores in the middle of your day to break it up
- Go to a local farmers market and buy local produce (this is a 2 for 1 as it will also count as part of your daily movement)
- Do a bodyweight workout (shameless plug - you can check out one of my 20-minute workouts)
- Pick up the tennis racquet or golf clubs that may have been collecting dust in your garage and give them another swing!
- Beat the heat with a swim and do some laps
- Stretch before bed or first thing in the morning