Welcome back to the End Average Fundamentals series! If you are new to this, please begin reading the series from the beginning by clicking HERE. Although the messages work on their own, there will be more context for you if you follow them in sequence. Make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter and I’ll send these directly to you so that you never miss a new post. You can sign up right on the EndAverage.com homepage. Now let’s get right to it.
Exercise and movement
Are you ready? Do you have your shoes laced up tight? Let’s do this.
Last week we got into the activity mindset. It was a case for the urgency that seems to be forgotten in the average person’s life. This week we’re going to get practical with it. I’ll say something important here, though: there are millions of personal trainers and fitness experts online, most of them are brilliant, but some are not. What I’m about to write about are the fundamental threads that consistently show up in the teachings of the good trainers. These are the basics. I am not a trained professional, so please make sure that your doctor is onboard with you getting healthy by starting a fitness routine (he will be ok with that). The best part of my approach is that you can ignore all the tedious nuances and complexities people have built into their programs so that you have to buy their product. My understanding of this topic comes from my personal experience. I can personally attest to the fact that the largest collective group of performance athletes is the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army. Do you want to guess what they do to get to that level of performance? They do push-ups, pull-ups, runs, ruck marches, buddy carries, and sit-ups. Every single morning there are thousands of paratroopers using nothing more than the ground and their body to grow endurance and strength. Most of what I know about fitness comes from time-proven methods that don’t require a gym membership or huge amounts of time or money.
Let’s just get back to the basic habits that will make your health routine a longterm success.
What an exercise routine should look like
Stretching, cardio, strength. That’s it. Pair these three exercise elements with a healthy diet and you will be 90% there, with “there” being a growth track to longterm health. To go the other 10% of the way, you get to choose your path based on your goals. Do you want to run marathons? Then your routine requires a lot of running. Do you want to be ripped and huge? Then you need to amp up weight training and clean protein intake. But the fundamental pieces should always be there no matter what your goal is. Stretching, cardio, and strength. The truth is most people never do any of these so be above average and start.
There’s no magic to this, people. Back pain, poor posture, poor flexibility (especially later in life), and strains – all of these are preventable by stretching the major muscle groups regularly. This could be a simple body stretching routine found online (Here’s one for static stretches, and one for dynamic stretching), or do a yoga class if you’re ready to get humbled. I personally haven’t felt any less sore after a hard workout if I started with stretching, but I am more limber and flexible after exercising so that’s when I feel like I’m getting the most bang for my buck. That being said, dynamic stretching as a warmup before exercising along with static stretching after exercising is a winning combo.
Cardiovascular exercise is intended to improve and maintain your heart, lungs, and circulatory system’s health. Remember the statistics on chronic and fatal but PREVENTABLE diseases we talked about in the last post? Cardio and diet are the two keys to preventing almost all of those diseases. Your level and intensity of cardio exercise is dictated by the shape you’re in right now and your goals. For the sake of maintenance I try to stick to the industry-accepted norm of raising your heart rate to 50-85% of your max heart rate (look below for how to calculate this) and keeping it there for 20-50 minutes three to five times a week. A brisk walk or jog a few times a week does the trick, any of these other aerobic exercises will get the job done as well. You don’t need a pool or treadmill to do this, just the floor and the time you’re currently spending doing something less productive.
Note – your target heart rate can be generally calculated by subtracting your age from 220. For example, 220-32 (my age) = 188. So 85% of that is about 160 (188 x 0.85). You can keep track of your heart rate with an Apple watch, FitBit, or any other sports watch. You can also use the feel-your-pulse and look at your watch technique if you’re a baller like that. Please don’t get hung up on this! The important part is that you’re doing something consistently. Remember that success is created by the consistent application of growth habits over time. If all you can do is a few walks, then do that and increase frequency over time.
This is my favorite part. It’s also the part that most people are intimidated by because of the giant bodybuilders on magazine covers that we’re all being compared to when we say we work out. Let me clear that up for you right now – a very small percentage of humans can dedicate enough time and energy to become magazine-cover worthy. Unfortunately, the fitness industry uses these world class athletes to set the bar so high that the guy with a 9-5 and a couple of kids is left feeling defeated. So let that thought go! Unless you’re willing to put in that training time and strict nutrition, just make general fitness your goal. If you catch the gym bug and you get enjoyment out of pursuing that level of strength training then go for it, just remember to stay mindful of pride and balance.
Like I said above, this is my favorite part because you can do it anywhere, anytime! 20 minutes in the morning in your living room? You can afford that time! Pull-ups while on a conference call? Sure! Dips on your office chair at break time? Go for it! If you did ten push-ups every hour on the hour, you’ll do at least 120 push-ups a day! Compound that over a week, month, or year. Imagine how good you would feel about yourself. Isn’t that worth it? Email me at Ryan@EndAverage.com for the at-home routine I’m using right now. I suggest you try to blend cardio and strength.
First, I encourage you to start now! Once an object (rather, you!) is in motion, it’s easier to keep it in motion. Every day that goes by is not just a day that you didn’t improve your health, it’s also a day that you degraded physically. Compound interest works against you just as strongly as it can work for you.
Second, look for ways to build in a little extra exercise into your life. Simple things like parking at the far end of the Target parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator add up over time.
Last but not least, there is a reciprocal causality of fitness: the more you do it, the more encouraged you will be to eat right, get enough sleep, etc. It also gives you more mental clarity, it helps with decision making, more energy, and higher self-confidence which enables us more discipline in all other areas of life.
The average person doesn’t think about their exercising until it’s too late. Don’t be that guy.
Let’s end average together.