My Wednesday workout looked something like this: ran a 100m sprint, almost keeled over but classily squatted down, put my hands on my knees, and squinted out into the distance as if in deep thought. In the midst of trying to calmly steady my heavy panting I had to question, “Am I out of shape? I can squat 200 pounds but I’m winded after running. Wait, there’s no way I am out of shape, lifting heavy counts for something right?” While much of this is because my workouts haven’t included sprints in a long time, it still made me feel just a little uncomfortable to think that maybe I’m not as fit as I once thought. It dawned on me that perhaps being “fit” is in the eye of the beholder.
There are pretty stark divisions in the fitness industry about what is the best way to improve your physical health. Runners are unlike crossfitters. Crossfitters have a different view than powerlifters. Yogis’ attitudes about health are drastically different than the rest. So, who has it right? Is the person with a slender body any more in shape than a person with muscles? What makes you the most knowledgeable and fit person?
Every person is sure they have the correct approach but by being overly adamant in their position they fail to see that there is truth that can be found in other practices. Working out should not be seen as one dimensional. A good program will be a combination of fitness techniques that are made to work with and for your body. My workout program was designed for me and each week I use aspects of olympic lifting, powerlifting, general weightlifting, sprinting, and when I’m feeling really zen, I practice yoga too. There should be no room for discrimination in working out because each exercise has a different purpose. Let me spit some research game for you:
Powerlifting has been found to be complementary to weightlifting to improve performance (1). The results of a study comparing power lifters, olympic lifters, and sprinters showed that each group showed superior aspects of power and strength that are unique to their type of training (2). Sprinting has been found to improve muscle function and performance (3). Participants in a study found that Ashtanga yoga helped improve their stress levels, strength and endurance in their upper body, and flexibility (4).
Being fit looks different for every body. There is a portion of legitimacy to each approach and very little consistency behind what people deem as “fit”. My fit baseline is to be strong, flexible, lean, fast, AND healthy, happy, and stress-free. Thus, my training matches my goals by combining each approach to get the most out of my workouts. Knowing your baseline and choosing the approaches that works for you is a personal process. So I have to ask you, what is “fit” to you?
Chiu, Loren. "Powerlifting Versus Weightlifting for Athletic Performance." Strength and Conditioning Journal: 55-56. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Mcbride, Jeffrey M., Travis Triplett-Mcbride, Allan Davie, and Robert U. Newton. "A Comparison of Strength and Power Characteristics Between Power Lifters, Olympic Lifters, and Sprinters." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 58-66. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Markovic, Goran, Igor Jukic, Dragan Milanovic, and Dusan Metikos. "Effects Of Sprint And Plyometric Training On Muscle Function And Athletic Performance." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 543-49. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Cowen, Virginia S., and Troy B. Adams. "Physical and Perceptual Benefits of Yoga Asana Practice: Results of a Pilot Study." Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies: 211-19. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.