How to get in shape – 3 different styles to consider

get-in-shape-1

I love seeing people get excited about learning how to get in shape. The more people take steps towards improving their fitness and health, the better. I’m a firm believer that any exercise is better than no exercise, but I’m also a believer that knowing your exercise goals greatly increases your chance of succeeding.

In an effort to help people better figure out what it is they want to achieve, I’ve split it up into three broad styles. Obviously there’s a lot of differences within each style, but each one defines a distinctly different mindset when approaching exercise.

The first 2 styles to consider when deciding how to get in shape:

  • Style 1 is a complete focus on muscle and weight gain. 

    This style consists of people who believe the only reason to lift weights is to gain muscle. With this style, all energy is put into consistently gaining weight and muscle. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to focus 100% on this, but it’s a decision that needs to made consciously. Complete focus on weight and muscle gain means losing the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. 

  • Style 2 is a complete focus on losing weight. 

    You can visit pretty much any gym and see this style in action. These people walk straight past the weights and hang out in the cardio room for a bit, and then leave. Cardio and losing weight are both awesome, but you’d miss out on the awesome benefits of lifting weight if you focus on them 100%.

These two styles represent complete opposite ends of the spectrum. The first one represents the end where you’re completely focused on building muscle, while the second one represents the end where you’re completely focused on losing weight.

The problem with these two styles are that they’re extreme. It’s hard work to achieve anything with exercise, regardless of what direction you go. The difference is, when you go to the extremes on either end, you put unnecessary stress on you’re body. Finding the mid-point between these two styles is ideal.

The 3rd (and best) style to consider when deciding how to get in shape:

  • Style 3 represents what I call an “athletic” build. 

    Using this strategy involves splitting your time between lifting weights and cardiovascular exercise. It’s a happy medium between the other two. You might not end up competing in any body-building competitions, or walking down any runways with this style. You’ll be better off for it though because your body won’t be subjected to those extremes. The problem with shooting for an athletic build, is it’s difficult to find information on.

Why break it down into 3 styles? Doesn’t that over simplify fitness?

Most people simply want to get in shape; not gain mass amounts of muscle, or lose every ounce of fat on their body. Most people just want to become healthier and simplifying fitness into 3 styles makes it much easier to define what the goal really is.

All that’s needed to really make a difference in your health is a simple grasp of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Stay tuned. The next 3 posts will be going into these three styles in more detail.

-Adam Conway

————————————————————————————————————————–

Check out my new site!: Simplify Adam

Photo Cred:http://www.top-dating-coach.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/get-in-shape-1.gif

Advertisements

Could You Live Without a Car?

Empty Garage

I’ve been looking forward to writing this sentence for a long time now. I haven’t let myself say anything until it’s official, but now I’m allowed to:

I can officially say I’m living without a car.

It might not sound like much of an amazing declaration to some, but that’s ok. Living without a car is, at the very least, a great challenge. I’ve been using my bicycle as exclusively as possible for the past 5 months, so there’s really nothing different now, it’s simply a matter of principle. Lots of people ask why I’ve been doing this. If your curious, check out these two articles that start to explain why:

There’s a few factors working against me:

  • I commute to a college that’s in a different town Tuesday through Thursday. It amounts to a 30 mile round trip.

  • There’s a major lack of bike friendly streets/trails. There’s one trail that goes through the middle of town and that’s about it.

  • There’s majorly lacking (read: none) public transportation. I think there’s a city bus system, but I’ve never used it and never intend to. Biking gets me places faster anyways.

  • Living car-free isn’t accepted as normal like it would be in a big city.

    Exhibit A:          

Exhibit A

Not owning a car is freeing. I don’t have to deal with gas, insurance, upkeep, or repairs. I get to focus on things that matter. I feel more free than I have in months.

As you probably know, cars cost quite a bit. The sticker price certainly hurts your wallet, but all the costs associated with owning a car are what really take its toll. You better be well prepared for all the things that come with owning a car.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with owning a car. I just believe people worship their car as if they can’t live without it. I want more people to experience the freedom that comes with not relying on their car. I’ve been experiencing that freedom lately and my hope is that more will!

How about you? Do you think you could ever give up your car?

 -Adam Conway

———————————————————————————————————————————–

[Note: I do have a motorcycle that I use once every few weeks to avoid over training. I’ve spent 60 dollars in gas the past 5 months which illustrates how often I use it. Riding my bike over 100 miles a week for 5 months starts to add up.]

Photo Cred: onelowerlight.com

Cycling Against the Wind

windy-cyclists

After a weekend rest, I’m mentally preparing myself for another weeks worth of riding. Four days just doesn’t feel long enough to recover from the accumulation of miles that comes with biking 30 miles to school and back three days in a row. On the verge of the next three day stint, it’s all I can do to get pedaling. Wait, I should check to make sure I have everything again. School supplies, check. Water, check. Food, check. School supplies, no I already made sure of that. Well let me re-adjust my backpack and tighten the straps for the 17th time. Ok, well if I have everything, I guess that means it’s time to go…

The jarring caused by the transition from curb to street is the cyclists’ starting gun. I take the first of many breaths of fresh air this crisp winter morning has to offer. Fumbling to attach my shoes to the pedals is the final ingredient in the cycling stew. A quarter of a mile down the road and I’m certain somebody injected cement into my tires and they must have left some bricks in my backpack for good measure. My muscles start to warm up and things are starting to get slightly better. Traffic is whizzing past me, taunting me to go faster and push harder. With a competitive spirit, I answer their taunt with speed and agility of my own. The wind is my friend as I whiz down the road, navigating the obstacles of the street. Every light I pass is green and my energy seems endless. The world seems perfect; what could go wrong? After making it through town and into the country, the joy continues. A chirping bird flies next to me for a brief second (literally), followed moments later by sounds coming from a hawk gliding above. After arriving at my destination I check the time and to my delight, it’s taken 50 minutes, a new record! What a wonderful adventure life is! How could anybody ever not be happy?

Optimism is practically oozing out of my ears as I mount the speed demon otherwise known as my bike. Can I break my record twice in one day? Maybe successfully navigate the 15 mile ride home without ever touching the handlebars? Suddenly stumble upon the cure for cancer? These all seem like real possibilities. I joyfully attach my shoes to the pedals and ride off, sprinting at top speed. One mile down and I feel the fatigue that comes with not pacing myself. I’ll just set a decent pace and I’ll be home in no time. Keeping the pace I settled upon seems a lot harder than it should be, but I chalk it up to tired muscles from the quick ride to school. That should go away once I get loosened up. A couple more miles and I’m completely spent. Why is this so difficult? An American flag on the roadside gives me an answer to that question I don’t want to hear. The flag frantically waves directly in my direction so violently that it looks as if it might rip off it’s pole, symbolizing the cyclists’ mortal enemy: wind. This ride just got a lot tougher than anticipated. The wind speed only increases once I make it out into the country. At the halfway point I struggle to hit 10 MPH and after checking the time, realize it’s already been 45 minutes. Traffic speeds by, rubbing their superiority in my face. It doesn’t seem fair that they get to avoid the effects of the wind, while I feel the full force of it. Every light I come to is red which gives me a little break from the wind, but kills any hope of gaining momentum. After expending so much effort with little to show for it, I feel empty of any energy. At least an empty stomach means less weight to carry, right? Checking the time as my journey concludes reveals a disappointing record time of an hour and 40 minutes. I did set a new record on my way home, it just wasn’t the one I was aiming for. The jarring caused by the transition from street to curb is the well-welcomed finish line. Why would anybody ever be happy to do this to themselves, knowing they’ll be back again tomorrow?

Simple Workout

Simple

Keep workouts simple

When looking for information on working out, it’s easy to feel completely buried in a mountain of information. Every place you look says something different. Lift this way or eat that way. There are millions of free and paid exercise programs to follow, so where should you start? The options become too many and varied so you end up getting overwhelmed and giving up. Why should you even start something when you don’t know if it’s right?

Here’s the easiest way to get in shape:

Start with none of them. Start simple.

The simpler something is, the easier it is to understand. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to follow.

Doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Do something you actually like doing, even if you hear its not as good as X (whatever workout everyone else says is better).

Here’s a list simple things you can do. I’m not writing down a “program” that should be followed. This is simply a list of simple ideas to get moving:

  • Walk.
  • Run.
  • Jump over/on stuff.
  • Climb up things.
  • Bike.
  • Your favorite sport.

Here’s a list of some simple workouts that can be done anywhere:

  • Push-ups.
  • Pull-ups.
  • Planks.
  • Bodyweight squats.
  • Lunges.
  • Wall sits.

Please comment with your favorite simple workouts!

-Adam Conway

Cycling

How I started cycling

For a few years, I have been the proud owner of a 2001 Honda Civic, and a 2006 Kawasaki 250 Ninja. This is the story of how I ended up shunning both of them in favor of a much more gas-efficient 2012 Specialized Tricross.

My bike
There came a point about 7 months ago in June, 2012, when I got tired of driving everywhere. On the surface, the costs add up with gas, insurance, repairs, and oil changes. On a deeper level, I realized that I simply enjoyed being outdoors as much as possible. Part of the reason I love being on my motorcycle is that it allows me to be outdoors while traveling. There is something particularly irking about traveling inside that little metal box. After getting new running shoes, I went through a two week period where I ran everywhere. I ran to the gym, I ran to church, and I ran anytime errands needed to be done. It was a great time of seeing it was completely possible to live without a car. Over the next two months I filled up the tank in my car once, opting to ride my motorcycle almost exclusively.

After I filled up the tank in my car again two months later, I realized it wasn’t enough. I needed more adventure. I love the idea of running everywhere, but it wasn’t sustainable. While my body isn’t made for lots of long distance running I still loved the idea of using exercise to get places. Cycling seemed like the best bet and something I knew I would enjoy. I had cycled often as a kid, but had my bike stolen a year earlier.

After thinking about it for a week, I decided that I was going to search for a nice bike I could call my own. I went to a local bike shop that had exactly the bike I was looking for. I thought about it for a day, deciding that to make it work I would need to forego my car for the most part and sell it if possible. I ordered the bike the next day and waited for it to arrive. I got the bike in September and immediately began logging miles. My goal was to keep a 10 mile a day pace, but once I started riding to school (30 miles round trip), that pace became a walk in the park. Before I knew it, 61 days had passed and I’d ridden 1,000 miles.

On my way to 1,000 miles I thought long and hard about what my new goal should be. Spending many hours in the saddle caught me dreaming of doing a cycling trip across the world, the first leg of which would be from where I live to New York. I figured I might as well combine those two goals and make my next mileage goal the distance of that first leg. My new mileage goal would come out to be 2,900 miles.

So far, my car hasn’t sold off of Craigslist, but it will sooner or later and I’m still 100% for getting rid of it. There’s many reasons why I like the idea of having no car which I’ll go into later and cycling is just one of them. I still have my motorcycle, with no plans of selling it, which I use when I need to get somewhere quick (which isn’t that often).

I’ve encountered a lot of opposition along the way. I’m not quite sure why people are so opposed to the idea of only transporting yourself by bike, but it only fuels my drive. People have said I’m “fung shwaying” my life, selling my car isn’t a good long term strategy, and even that I’m going to get pneumonia riding through the winter. I think people just fear a little bit of uncertainty, but a little bit of fear and uncertainty isn’t bad, it’s invigorating and exactly what I’m searching for.