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Q: what would you recommend for a 26year old looking for all round fitness?

All round fitness

This is a very general question and therefore one that could be met with a very general answer. The answer could be as simple as: all round training, a bit of cardio, a bit of resistance and a bit of flexibility work. I’d probably ad in a little bit of an understanding of nutrition for overall health and happiness, but this person hasn’t actually asked that.

Be specific with your goal

When I worked as a personal trainer and a new clients came to me I would ask them which of the following they want; I also asked for complete honesty, as most people don’t want to admit their real goal.

  1. Do you want to look good above all else? Forget health, forget being able to lift big weights, you want aesthetics?
  2. Do you want to be healthy about all else? Forget how you look, forget lifting big weights or running 5km. You want to be healthy and live a long life
  3. You want to be able to run/swim/bike etc easily and quickly for long periods of time. You don’t care about looking good, lifting big, the cardiovasculaer fitness is paramount.
  4. You want to lose weight/fat for an event like a wedding or summer holiday. Health and fitness are as important as looking a certain way for that event.
  5. A mix of 2 or more of the above.

If I am honest, which I asked my clients to be, around 80% of them admitted that aesthetics were the most important factor for them. Even those that said cardiovascular fitness was paramount as they had signed up for the marathon or a triathalon, when we got down to the real reasons behind signing up for said event, it revolved around the thought process that the event and training for it would help with weight loss and a six pack.

The point then, is to be SPECIFIC with the GOAL and to be HONEST with yourself. If you have ever heard of the SMART goal setting acronym, the first element “S” is Specific, so my that would be the first thing I’d say to the individual. All round fitness is all well and good, but can yo be more specific? Why? What for? Oh, you want to join the Royal Marines? Ok, now we can be specific with the elements of fitness. You play football? Ok, now we can be specific with what to train. You are worried about health and illness, ok, now we can bring in nutrition and prehab. You see my point?

What’s best for “All round Fitness”

To answer the question as it is, I would suggest an all round fitness plan to cover all round fitness:

  1. A sensible nutrition plan as no one can out-train a bad diet. My ebook Successful Eating has this covered.
  2. Resistance training. People looking for all round health and fitness (and fatloss/weight loss) all too often prioritise cardio training over resistance. Don’t. Resistance training is more important for bone health, protecting the metabolism and many other reasons. Choose a training programme that sees you performing weights around 3 to 4 times a week.
  3. Perform 1 to 3 cardio sessions per week. If you want true all round fitness, then one may be running, one may be swimming and one may be a game of squash or another sport. If you want something more specific then a 1 mile swim programme or 5km run programme may be better.
  4. Add some stretching/flexibility/prehab work. Some people like a weekly yoga session. Some people like a mornin mobility routine.

All round fitness

For all round fitness, you need an all round training programme. That includes rest, sleep, food and enjoyment. Some people see CrossFit as the pinnacle of all round fitness. Personally, I am not a huge fan of CrossFit in isolation. Elements of CrossFit are great and people looking at my training would assume I follow CrossFit to a degree. I don’t. There have always been elements in my training that when it was formed, CrossFit took on and made part of their syllabus. If someone wanted all round fitness and wanted to include CrossFit I would say to include a well thought through and designed WOD once or twice a week, choosing sensible exercises that are already familiar to the exerciser. Around that, a sensible resistance programme to support the all round fitness goal and the exercises that the WODs will include; and sensible nutrition, cardio and mobility plan as stated above.

To conclude

In conclusion, I would advise being more specific with the real requirements of the fitness plan. What is the all round fitness for? This will help drive what the programme includes. If there really isn’t a more specific plan, then the ideas I’ve listed above should be included.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

Out now: Successful Eating
Plus: Pass the PRMC