Fitness has become sort of an umbrella term for everything people do in a gym. Is the chick spending mindnumbing amounts of time on the treadmill fit because she can run for a kabillion hours, even though she can hardly lift her own groceries for more than 10 steps? The powerlifter who’s really good at lifting a heavy weight once but gets winded from walking a flight of stairs, is he fit? Well then, what about the Crossfitter? Does he cover all the aspects of being ‘fit’?
‘Fit’ means little more than being adapted to something. You can be fit to run a marathon, fit to deadlift 500lbs, fit to win a kickboxing competition or you can at least give the impression that you’re somehow ‘fit’ because you have a fucking sixpack . (Yeah, that’s the former fat kid’s bitterness talking. Fuck you. Sixpacks by themselves still don’t make you fit for anything except hitting on 16 year old girls.)
The above emphasizes the fact that what you do should be geared towards your specific goals, but some people just want to “be fit and healthy”. Well then… My definition of general fitness? Outclassing most people in surviving a zombie apocalypse. Why? Well, you could substitute a lot of physically challenging situations ranging from minor inconveniences to full blown disasters, but I feel that a zombie apocalypse encompasses pretty much everything. Either that or I’m just a fucking nerd. Regardless, there’s always the risk that there will in fact be a zombie apocalypse.
My recipe for being ‘generally fit’? It roughly boils down to the following.
- Get stronger. Lift heavy but submaximal and always leave a bit of gas in the tank, 2 to 4 times a week. Emphasize adding weight to freeweight exercises (or calisthenics) while maintaining good form and staying injury free. Other stuff like whether to squat high- or lowbar, rest periods between sets of an exercise or ‘muscle confusion’ and whatnot are not really important here.
- Do a bit of conditioning. 1 or 2 short bouts of HIIT every week is enough. Complexes, circuits or mixing exercises like sled pushes, hill sprints, kettlebell swings or barbell thrusters are all fine. Add the occasional hike, lengthy stroll, playful run or whatever. It’ll do your mind good.
- Eat your vegetables, fibre and protein. Vary your food intake. If you’re not sure you fit the bill, you probably don’t.
- Do some martial arts. I don’t really care which one, but anything where you learn to break falls, tumble, roll and learn some basic self defense is fine. Mixed Martial Arts or Krav Maga are fine. A combination of thai boxing and judo would work too and there are countless martial arts nowadays that would fit the bill. If you’re curious why this is in the list: everyone who has played ‘The Last of Us’ or seen ‘Dawn of the Dead’ knows that fighting for your life generally involves a lot of falling down and a lot of… Well… Fighting.
- Do something random and have fun testing your overall fitness once in a while. Rent a canoo and hit the waters, climb a wall, have sex several times in a short time span (it doesn’t count if it doesn’t leave you as fatigued as a true 20RM on your squat), try a Crossfit WOD or pick up a new sport for a short while occasionally.
“Being able to sprint, fight, screw, practice cannibalism, and compete at a high level at whatever is a great feeling and you can’t do those things without good conditioning.” – Paul Carter