By Scott A. Jansen
I’m constantly hearing this question from clients: “How can I simplify this, to get the body I want?” After two decades of helping people attain their goals, I’ve come up with these 6 elements to get the best results.
Food is Fuel
Food is a very complex subject. That’s why there are countless books and blogs written on the subject, sites on Pinterest and Instagram dedicated to it, and the multitude of so-called experts offering to give you advice for a price. Everyone is created differently and requires specific nutritional advice. It’s not my purpose here in this article to go into a deep dive on macros (ratios of protein, carbs, and fat), or even which foods are best. I’ll keep it simple:
Food is Fuel!
That’s not to say food can’t be an amazing source of enjoyment, exploration, and reward. Food, like music, can enrich our lives and personal environment immensely; however, like everything else in life food can be addictive, misused, and misunderstood. Keep it simple if you want to have the best body possible. Eat whole foods. Don’t eat processed foods/junk food. Control the quantity you consume by understanding your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMI) Understand which foods provide energy (Carbohydrates & Fats) and which ones repair your body (Proteins). Lastly, don’t starve yourself. You’ll see better physical results, muscle gains, and have more energy if you eat the appropriate amount of food. I see two major categories in the gym: people who under eat, trying to be lean and fight off bodyfat, and lifters that eat “dirty” (everything in sight)They think that as long as they’re getting the macros, it’s ok. They’re not sourcing from whole foods and just trying to get enough calories to gain muscle. Eat lean sources of protein, make most of your carbohydrates come from vegetables, and enjoy the good fats (Omega 3’s, and polyunsaturated fats) found in seeds, nuts, avocados, and the super foods.
I’m very thankful that the fitness world and popular media has reignited the age old concept of strong over skinny.Strong people can thrive in this world and stay healthy far better than their counterparts. The fad of cardio only fitness or starving yourself is slowly dying. We’re seeing magazines constantly being exposed for their airbrushing and stick thin models who have dropped to an unhealthy bodyfat level for the brief moment of the photo shoot. This is not a healthy or strong person and shouldn’t be desired or perpetuated by our culture. (Ok, I’ll get off my soap box.)
One of my favorite things I get the pleasure of doing in my career is helping people get strong. Teaching someone to do a proper squat, deadlift, bent-over row, or press is so rewarding. Watching that person’s self-esteem improve as they get stronger and more powerful is priceless.Building muscle and strength changes peoples’ lives for the better. There’s many aspects of health that are important (cardiopulminary, blood pressure and cholestrol levels, bodyfat to lean muscle mass ratios, etc.) but, strength is so essential to our daily lives. Strength is essential for lifting items that seem benign, yet can injure us, sustaining good posture, having the ability to get out of a chair, or basic locomotion (walking). When young, we take these things for granted, but the process of aging and development of poor habits happen everyday. Make today and everyday different by properly lifting something heavy. Deadlifts sustain healthy glutes and hamstrings, and lower backs (posterior chain). Pressing helps shoulders and structural stabilizing muscles do everyday work. Pulling helps maintain a strong upper back and healthy posture. Start slowly, track progress, and lift heavier each week. This will force your muscle to adapt and grow in strength or size.
Workout with Intensity
Study after study has illustrated the value of intensity in your workouts. Bring intervals into your workouts, get your heart rate increasing for short periods of time, and then bring it back down to moderate levels. You’ll get a more efficient workout, reduce the total time needed to exercise, and receive more value for it. You can incorporate this in resistance training or cardiovascular exercises alike. If I can make one recommendation to most people I see working out, it’s to increase the intensity! Your heart, lungs, and muscle all react the same way: the more intensity, the faster, and better the adaptation. You can start this with baby steps and increase over time. Try it! You won’t be disappointed.
All too often elite athletes find themselves injured or experiencing a plateau in their progress. That’s when I recommend resting more! The same is true for the novice athlete in their programming. Understanding that when resting and sleeping their hard-fought muscle is repaired, and increases in strength and size is essential. Working out the same muscle group for back to back days doesn’t allow it to repair. Clients will ask me to design overall programs for them, and I often find they’re doing too much or too many days in a row of the same resistance movements. Rest is equally as important to demand (exercise). I believe this information isn’t spread often enough by our media sources or fitness professionals.
With all that being said, I too need to practice what I preach about rest.My clients are quick to point this out, and correctly so. I need to get more sleep at night and have trouble balancing this busy season of life with my workload, social commitments, and three little children. I can lift heavy, with intensity, sprint and bound around, eat perfect, and apply the knowledge, but without recovery, I won’t be my best or see the results I desire.
Seeking support in your health and fitness journey is critical to its success. Whether it’s with the assistance of a professional trainer or coach, friend/workout partner, or social network of people, it’s so much easier when done together. Anyone that has played a team sport or has been a part of a group understands that together we are stronger and more committed. Seek relationships that build you up and help you continue your progress and healthy habits. Be the change and support for others that you desire!
Find Your Long-Term Motivation
Why are you doing this? Will it impact you or those around you? I suggest you find this long-term motivation and realize it’s going to be a journey. Track your progress, celebrate your successes, and think about the big picture. This will help you overcome the small seasons in life that may present a challenge. These times could include when you get sick, experience tragedy, have setbacks, or have plateaus. Stay the course and always focus on the bigger picture and path you’re on.
Personally, I want to make the biggest impact for my community, my clients, my family, and friends. I will have a better chance of accomplishing this if I’m focusing on healthy habits that keep me staying on track toward my fitness goals. I often exercise to release negative stress in my life and to have more energy, not only to strive for my own personal fitness goals. Find your motivation and stay the course. I know you can do it!
If you want to make an effective change to your body, incorporate these six elements into your training and lifestyle. Nobody else can do the work for you, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it more difficult by doing it wrong. You don’t get to choose the body, health, or conditioning level you’re born with, but you do get to change that paradigm and write your own story!
Reach out to your trainers on staff or me personally to help you create the workout best fitted to your goals. For fun tips, exercises, and videos follow me on social media: Facebook: Scott Jansen, Instagram: @scottajansen. Have fun finding out just how amazing you can be!
Stay Healthy and Active,
Scott A. Jansen
Magnuson Athletic Club/ Fitness Manager