Training for overall health

The transition from training for aesthetics to training for overall health…my journey.

Since starting as a coach at W10 Performance I have learnt a magnitude of new information surrounding training and nutrition that has ultimately transformed my overall mindset towards it all.  And updating my knowledge with the top influencers in the fitness industry such as Andre Benoit, two time Olympian and strength coach,  in our private W10 seminar, is no minor privilege.

I, like a lot of people, was a huge advocate of old-school style training body-part splits. It was all I had ever known since becoming a trainer, and I enjoyed it. I was good at it and I therefore continued to utilise it as my main training method. It wasn’t until I was introduced to W10 that I very quickly began to question whether this really was the most effective way for me to reach my goals.

Taking nothing away from the bodybuilding split methods – I did get some really good results through this way of training, when combined with excellent nutritional guidance from my coach at that time. I noticed, however, that my fitness levels had suffered as a consequence. My engine was rubbish and it was embarrassing. Years of neglecting conditioning work had left me, and my lungs, in a pretty appalling state.

Now, I’ve never been an endurance athlete, I was always a sprinter in my school years, who was definitely born with more fast-twitch muscle fibre types than slow-twitch, but this still doesn’t excuse my poor work capacity levels. We can all find ways to improve what has been given to us. Our bodies are a continuing project, and we shouldn’t necessarily comfort ourselves with the old excuse of “it’s my genetics”… Really? Please!

It’s important to consider what ‘health’ actually means to you, which can very from person to person. For a lot of people it would be the absence of chronic disease but perhaps we should ask whether these people can move and perform life’s daily tasks and adventures easily and more importantly, in the absence of pain?

For the majority of us, simply improving our movement capabilities should be our top priority. We all want to look and feel better and this often why we embark upon a fitness journey in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, aesthetics are important, what we see in the mirror daily has the power to impact us on so many levels, especially psychologically, and I am not trying to take anything away from this…

Therefore, surely looking good and being healthy should go hand in hand rather than being considered as two separate entities?

With this in mind, it then becomes important to strive for both – health and achieving an aesthetically pleasing physique.

In order to do this, we must tap into varying training methodologies, rather than limiting ourselves to one or another. Personally, I have found the introduction of two conditioning sessions within my training week extremely effective in improving my cardiovascular fitness, my stamina and also my strength endurance.

Often, people fear losing levels of strength once any ‘cardio’ is added into their training programme. I have to admit, I was one of those people. I was proud of my five unassisted chin ups and bodyweight squat, I worked bloody hard to get there and the last thing I wanted to do was to lose it all in the reluctant pursuit for increased CVE (Cardiovascular Endurance).

After four weeks of completely changing up my training I have noticed a marked improvement in my speed, endurance, strength and power development. I have not lost any strength; in fact, I think I’ve actually gained some as I spontaneously performed four ring chin ups the other day – with perfect form of course! My strength endurance has increased, I move a lot better and I feel ten times more confident in my ability to successfully complete any ‘cardio based’ activity, which I would have normally avoided prior to starting at W10.

If you look at a lot of successful strength and conditioning programmes there seems to be a huge crossover between various training ‘disciplines’. For example, everyone, bodybuilder or average Joe, can benefit from foam rolling and mobility work within their training programme. This is the same for compound lower body exercises, which are key whether you are training to step up on stage or just wanting a firmer backside.

The point of this article was to highlight the importance of taking an open-minded approach to training especially when striving for better body composition.

Every one of us has varying goals and some methods will suit people better than others. Training exclusively within a certain modality is entirely dependant on the individual’s goals and their lies it’s place. When considering our members here at W10 and the general population (athletes aside) improving the way we move and our ability to endure any challenges life may throw at us is normally right at the top of that list. Our tough gym standards ensure that we help every one of our clients to achieve a well-rounded level of fitness. We endeavour to make our members move better, feel stronger and fitter which are the key ingredients to ultimately improving their quality of life.