What is Normal Human Fitness?

With the rise of electronics and social media, the picture or definition of fitness has seemed to shift toward professional and elite athletes. One can’t help but notice their posts and their picture of professional fitness. And it seems that most of them have some sort of fitness plan for sale. That’s great for all the professionals out there, but what about the rest of us? What about the normal humans out there? Should we try to obtain professional fitness only to fail before we even begin? Instead of trying to obtain the impossible, we can work hard and obtain normal human fitness.

What is a Normal Human?

First of all, most normal humans have a full-time job. This job is forty hours plus, with a commute lasting anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes or even more. And that’s just one-way. Many of us work odd or unpredictable hours meaning we don’t even know what time we will be home. This job requires us to deal with stress, and uses a lot of our physical and mental energy.

Next, the normal human usually has a family, with a spouse and kids relying on them for their time, attention, and other limited resources. Getting the kids to and from school and to and from extra curricular activities is a major responsibility. The normal human must also help the kids with homework, projects, and remind them to complete chores and take care of themselves in general.

Having a family, or even living alone, the normal human has a commitment to care for their home, their vehicles, and other domestic responsibilities. Food needs to be prepared, laundry and dishes washed and put away. The carpet needs vacuumed and groceries bought, brought home, and put away. The vehicle needs gas, oil changes, air in the tires, and cracked windshields replaced.

The Normal Human Lifestyle

It is obvious that the normal human has a huge time commitment in just being normal. But everyone is afforded the same twenty four hours in the day. Whether we are normal humans, the Queen of England, or the President of the United States, we all get the same amount of time to work with. We have to be smart in how we manage our time and really concentrate on our priorities so we can schedule the things we need to get done.

Feeding ourselves, taking care of the kids, and going to work are high priority items. Meal prepping, working out, and sleeping eight hours should also be high on the priorities list. Helping the kids with homework, personal development, and building a side business are also things that we need to set aside time for. Watching television and browsing social media should be saved for when all the higher priority items have been taken care of.

The normal human lifestyle is not easy and requires discipline. It requires living with purpose and intent. Planning the day and executing the plan. It requires knowing what you want, what you want to accomplish that day, and sticking with the plan no matter how tired, worn out, or discouraged we may be. If you’re tired, you know you are doing something right. Life wants us to be comfortable, addicted to pleasure and instant gratification. But the normal human can choose tokeep the end in mind; to take the path less traveled or even create our own.

Normal Human Fitness

The importance of normal human fitness puts it in a category by itself. Fitness gives us strength, energy, confidence, ability, and most importantly, health and longevity. The key to achieving and improving fitness is consistency. In order for something to be consistent, it must be a part of our lifestyle; part of our daily routine. The normal human can join a traditional gym, or workout at home. We should have a diversified fitness plan. This plan should include cardiovascular training which includes walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, or jumping rope. It should also include resistance training with multi-joint exercises such as squatting, bench pressing, dead lifting, and shoulder pressing. This should be done with a mix of barbell and dumbbell exercises. And a mix of low and high repetitions. One or two rest days, or low intensity days, should be programmed into the plan. But a walking and stretching plan should be maintained on a daily basis.

The normal human also sets fitness related goals. Goals such as signing up and training for a 5K run/walk or mud run. Other goals can be losing inches off your waist, or increasing your bench press weight. Regardless of what it is, a fitness goal will give you something positive to strive for. Something you can measure, track, and experience results from. This will help you to find a deeper appreciation for your fitness journey and healthy lifestyle.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, we are normal humans with many responsibilities. The way we prioritize and plan for these responsibilities can set us up for success or failure. We must choose to either be uncomfortable, beginning with the end in mind, or comfortable pleasure seekers taking the easy road that always leads to defeat. It is a simple process of deciding what we want, placing that in our heart, and adopting the mindset of achieving it. Whatever it takes.

General Physical Preparedness

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.

Examples include:

* 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

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.

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What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is an excellent way to train functional fitness. What is functional fitness? Doing work. Moving an object or your body over a distance to accomplish a task. Lifting a bag of dog food into the trunk of your car. Placing a large container of laundry detergent on a shelf. Walking. Swimming. Climbing a ladder. Running. The list goes on…

Powerlifting can be used by anyone to improve strength and fitness. But powerlifters train for strength. Their purpose is to put as much weight on the bar as they can. Many powerlifters compete in events called powerlifting meets. The meet is designed to find the lifter with the highest “total,” or the one who has the most combined one repetition maximum of three main lifts. Strength and technique are important in these three lifts, but accessory work is also utilized to improve upon the strength and mastery of the lifts.

The three lifts are:

• Back squat

• Deadlift

• Bench press


The Back Squat

The back squat is a multi-joint exercise. It utilizes so many muscle groups that it is the king of all weight lifting exercises. It is an excellent way to develop leg strength and core strength. To perform this exercise, the bar is placed on the upper back, across the shoulders. With hands on the bar for stabilization, maintaining an upright posture and proper lumbar spinal curve, flexion of the hips initiates the movement. Flexion of the hips means the lifter decreases the angle, or “bends” at the hips. As the hips descend toward the ground, the knees and ankles begin flexion (bending) as well.

As this motion is occurring, the feet remain locked to the floor so that the knees and ankles can produce external torque against the floor. External torque is produced by sending the knees toward the outside of the body. Torque is a twisting or rotational force, so imagine the heels of your feet are twisting against the floor towards the outside of the body. It is important to create and maintain torque, because it stabilizes and protects the knee joint. It also sets the hip joint into an optimal position during the movement.

During the descent, the body needs to remain rigid. The core muscles should be tight, pushing the abdominal muscles into the spine. The calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lats fire and stay tight during both the descent and ascent. The descent ends when the quads go below parallel and the lifter is in the “hole.” At this point, the movements are reversed and the lifter ascends back to the starting position.

A power lifters goal with the back squat is to squat as much weight as possible for one repetition. This goal is achieved by practicing the lift in different, low repetition back squat workouts. For example, the lifter may choose a rep-scheme such as five sets of five reps, increasing the weight each set. Another example would be a back squat training session consisting of seven sets of three reps. Increasing the weight each set. And, of course, a workout consisting of one rep is important in training as well.

When the squats are complete, the lifter would continue the workout with accessory exercises. These exercises are limited only by the imagination. Leg extensions, leg curls, reverse-hypers, sit-ups, back extensions, front squats, overhead squats, body-weight squats, lunges, and stretching.


Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

The Deadlift

Just like the back squat, the deadlift is also a multi-joint exercise utilizing several muscle groups. It develops core strength, hip strength, and back strength. To perform this exercise, the lifter stands shoulder width apart, with shins touching the barbell. The knees are slightly bent, and the ankles and hips are in flexion so that the hands can grip the bar just outside of shoulder width. The arms remain locked, and they do not bend at any time during the lift. The core muscles and glutes remain engaged, squeezed, and locked as the lift is performed. The hamstrings, glutes, core, lower-back, and upper-back work together to move the bar from the floor to the fully upright, standing position. After a brief pause, the movement reverses, and the lifter lowers the bar to the floor.

As with the back squat, a powerlifter’s goal in performing the deadlift is to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition. A lifter trains for this also in a low-repetition workout. Similar to back squat training, one would perform five sets of five deadlifts, for example, with the aim of increasing the weight each of the five sets. Sets of three, sets of two, and single repetition sets are also utilized to increase deadlift strength.

Accessory exercises for deadlift training are also utilized. Rowing exercises with barbell, dumbbell, cables, and machines are common deadlift accessory exercises. As are pull-ups with different grip variations. Sumo deadlifts, and deficit deadlifts are different deadlift variations that can also be used to develop strength.


Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

The Bench Press

The bench press is arguably the most popular weight lifting exercise that exists. Functionally, it simulates moving from a prone position to an extended position called the leaning rest. It is a multi-joint exercise that utilizes the chest, shoulders, and arms to move a barbell from full extension, to flexion, and back to full extension. The lifter begins face up on a bench with the barbell racked above them. A grip just outside of shoulder width, or wider, is used to un-rack the bar to move it to the starting position. The bar descends to the chest and back to the starting position in a smooth, fluid motion. A spotter and safety arms should always be used during this exercise. And, as with the back squat and deadlift, a one-rep maximum is the goal.

Training the bench press utilizes sets of low repetitions, just like the back squat and deadlift. There are many, nearly infinite accessory exercises that compliment the bench press. Incline and decline bench pressing with a barbell and dumbbells are most common. Dumbbell and cable flys are also popular ways to increase bench press strength. Body weight exercises such as the push-up and hand stand push-up are effective strength building exercises for the bench press.

Powerlifting can be intimidating. The name alone can instill images of very large animalistic men lifting unimaginable amounts of weight. But we are Normal Humans, and Normal Humans can utilize powerlifting to increase our health, strength, and fitness. Whether you are squatting, deadlifting, or bench pressing 10 pounds or 1000, work within your limits and compete only with yourself. This will always make you better, and is another tool we can use for our own personal improvement.

The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness, Part 1

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”

Unknown

Fitness is paramount to a healthy life. It effects our physical health, our mental health, our attitude, our opinion of ourselves, our confidence, the daily choices we make, our long-term choices, goals, abilities, and more. Fitness makes us better human beings, because it has so many positive results.

Many people embrace their fitness and work on it daily. Others want to be fit but don’t know where to start. Whether it is a fear of failure, intimidation, or belief that it is unobtainable, anyone can take the following steps to get on the path of gaining fitness:

  1. Decide on your why
  2. Track your food intake
  3. Begin a stretching routine
  4. Block out a time and place for exercise
  5. Begin a walking routine
  6. Set a goal
  7. Start an exercise log
  8. Begin to change food habits
  9. Find a community
  10. Research exercises or types of exercise that interest you
  11. Gradually accumulate equipment
Photo by Ryan Cheng on Unsplash

1. Decide on your why

With everything we do, there is a reason, or why, to motivate us to do things. Why do we wake up to the sound of an annoying alarm clock? To get to work on time. Why do we go to work? To earn money to make a living. Why do we eat a meal? To provide energy to sustain life.

Take a long hard look at the benefits of fitness that are listed above. Think about them. How would you benefit from an increase in your fitness? How would you benefit from better health? Increased confidence? Increased physical ability?

Decide on two or three of these benefits that are most important to you and write them down. Put them on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Tell people about them. Post them on your social media accounts. This may even help someone else by motivating them to think about their own health and fitness.

Congratulations! You’ve taken the most important initial step to improve your health! Whenever you’re feeling tired, discouraged, or apathetic (and you will), use your why to maintain your purpose and motivation.


2. Track your food intake

Fitness requires nutrition. The quality and quantity of the food we eat is the foundation of our physical being. Relate food to medicine. Different medicines have different effects on our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall. Food is no different. We take it in, and it affects our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall as well. Depending on our needs, medicine can help us, or harm us. Again, just like medicine, food falls into this as well.

Get into the habit of tracking your daily food intake. There are many apps that are easy to use to help with this task. You can also use software like a spreadsheet, or just use a pen and notebook. Any of these options are effective. The goal here is to be able to analyze what you eat, when, and how much. Track the calorie count and macronutrients (grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat) for everything. This information can easily be found on the internet. Be honest with serving sizes. This information will only benefit you in the long run.

Using a food log takes a lot of work. At first. The more you work on it, the easier it gets. This is because you will begin to notice patterns and will get faster at entering your food. You will also begin to have an awareness and visual record of what you are, and are not taking in. It will be easier to make necessary changes as you progress. And you will also be able to relate how you feel with what you eat.


3. Begin a stretching routine

Now that you have your why in mind, and you’re compiling food intake data, it is time to get physical. It is time to start a stretching routine. This is a simple step that should be incorporated daily. We want a full body stretch routine at the least. This should take about fifteen or twenty minutes and should be performed after exercising, or after the body is warm. Stretching is not recommended when the body is cold or has been inactive.

If you’re unsure how to stretch, or what stretches to do, YouTube is a great resource for this. Search for full body stretches, and additional stretches for any body part that gives you extra trouble. You can also choose to do a quick, full body yoga routine.

Stretching teaches us to maintain and take care of our body. It helps loosen tight muscles, scar tissue, and stiff tendons. It promotes circulation and helps mobilize waste products out of the tissues. It is also a healthy way to get into a habit of daily physical activity.


4. Block out a time and place for exercise

When I first began working out, I set up an 8′ x 12′ piece of carpet in my basement. I used this as my workout area for the body weight exercises that I was doing at the time. I had a television and VCR set up for workout videos. And it wasn’t long until I mounted a pull-up bar and a set of dip bars as well. I even ended up dragging a treadmill down the stairs and running in the basement!

It was great. I had my dedicated spot for working out and would work out when I got home from work. Without thinking, I had accomplished ‘blocking out a time and place for exercise.’

This is your next step. Be deliberate about this so you can commit to the time and place as you fit it into your schedule. If you’re the typical overly-busy person, you will need to make a decision to make this time a priority so you can accomplish your fitness.

Photo by Frank McKenna on Unsplash

This is part one of a three part series. In less than thirty minutes, you can start these four steps today. Put them on your to do list under priority one. Tackle them and check them off. Then, be ready for part two of this series.

Re-read the steps above. Which do you think will be the hardest to implement?