Variety is the spice of life. The variety of physical challenges we come across in life, nature, and certain occupations are nearly infinite. What is the role that fitness plays? Being capable and prepared to withstand and conquer anything that life throws our way. This is called general physical preparedness. We have to be prepared to move our body alone and with external weight to accomplish everyday life tasks. Life will also throw random tasks at us that require general physical preparedness.
* lifting and moving heavy objects such as a 50 pound bag of dog food.
* carrying your child who has an injured foot.
* running from danger.
* squatting up and down from the toilet.
* cleaning the house.
* mowing the lawn.
* playing with the grandchildren.
* preparing for the later years of life.
The possibilities are infinite, and this is why we train for general physical preparedness. To improve general physical preparedness, there are three areas to focus on. This is solely my opinion, but the three focus areas are core strength, body weight mastery, and manipulation of external weight.
Core strength is the strength of your central being. It is what keeps you upright and allows you to move. Whether walking, running, swimming, carrying external weight, or moving the body from one plane to another, the core is always utilized. The muscles of the core are the abdominals and lower back, but I like to include the hips and glutes as well.
It is important to strengthen the core, because the core is what braces and protects the spine during movement. Exercises such as sit-ups are a good place to start when training the core. Hip/back extensions are great for the lower back. Planks are also a good exercise to train for stability. But the most effective movements to strengthen the core are power lifting movements such as the squat, deadlift, and their variations. Theses exercises require core stabilization and force improvement of core strength.
Core flexibility is also important to improve strength, especially in the hips. Hip and lower back mobility is required to mobilize scar tissue generated from normal training. Stretching will improve flexibility and should be part of your daily routine.
Body Weight Mastery
The body we live in carries us wherever we go and has mass associated with it. That mass needs to be mastered so that we can move that mass through different planes of motion. Climbing, squatting, even getting out of bed require certain levels of body weight mastery.
Several years ago I attended a presentation where the gist of the message was how to keep yourself out of the nursing home in your later years. What it came down to was being able to sustain enough fitness in your later years to be able to move your body weight. According to the presentation, getting yourself in and out of bed, and getting yourself on and off of the toilet are the key to staying out of the nursing home. This is general physical preparedness-being prepared for sickness, injury, and your later years in order to take care of yourself. Being generally physically prepared also establishes lean body mass. Lean body mass is essential in the quality of life in the later years.
Controlling body weight while pushing and pulling are essential for general physical preparedness. Calisthenics are a great way to train with your body weight. Especially pull-ups and body weight squats. Push-ups, dips, rope climbs, sprinting, and even hand stands should be utilized in maintaining body weight mastery. Mobility and flexibility are also important to keep the joints injury free.
Manipulation of External Weight
Carrying a child, loading groceries, and mowing the lawn are all examples of using fitness to carry or move external weight. This is a form of general physical preparedness that is required throughout life. Even in later life, carrying external weight is required in the form of bringing home groceries and performing normal tasks around the home.
Training with barbells, dumbbells, sandbags, and medicine balls are an excellent way to train with external weight for general physical preparedness. Stay away from isolation exercises like bicep curls. Nature does not require isolation of muscles. The body should always perform as one unit, taking advantage of as many muscles as possible to accomplish the task.
Intensity is another element to consider. Many times in life, accomplishing a task has some sort of time component involved. And that time component usually includes a certain level of discomfort. Adding intensity to workouts should be considered when training for general physical preparedness. Moving weights at high intensity will teach the body’s energy systems to perform with efficiency.
General physical preparedness is important for people of all ages, male and female. It is required to take care of yourself and help your fellow man. The infinite amount of tasks that life can throw at us require general fitness.