Friday, July 17, 2015

Why I stopped Gym and focused on Functional/High intensity interval training

Health and fitness have always been my top priority from school days. I have been going to gym regularly (3-5 days a week) from years -- but it has changed for me about 7 months ago. I want to share some info about why I chose to leave my traditional gym type workout behind.

I worked out at the gym for years and was lifting weights few times a week. It was working well and I got plenty of muscle and gained strength. But I noticed that I started to get tight over time, I wasn’t flexible, and started to get a feeling that it would be hard to continue like this to meet my long term health goals. There are multiple ways to get the results in the fitness world but I believe it comes down to picking up something that you enjoy every-time and can continue for years to come. So I started to experiment with many other options out there, like- MMA, CorssFit, Kickboxing, Calisthenics type, different styles of Yoga, Breathing techniques and meditations.

After six months of trial and error, I currently use a combination of training styles to make sure I am training all my four muscles (Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual) on daily bases. I realized that each of these muscles are important and if one of them is weak, then your life starts to go out of control and balance.

Here is my typical weekly workout schedule these days
  1. Functional (Calisthenics: Body weight excercises) based high speed interval training (30 seconds full speed and 10 seconds rest, repeat) as the main focus-- 3 times a week
  2. I do lots of dedicated stretching workout for mobility - 1-2 times a week
  3. Bikram hot Yoga- Once in a week to sweat out extra toxins from the body
  4. Different Breathing drills to cleanse the body and control my monkey mind - I try to do this every morning for about 10 minutes
  5. Meditations - I use 'Headspace' and 'Breath' apps on my phone as guided meditation- I try to do this for 10-15 minutes every morning
  6. I still have my gym membership and only going once in two weeks for specific weight training session 

I have found that doing a body weight training create a truly firm foundation, helps you get overall strong while lowering the risk of injury compared to banging the weight in gym. I am focusing on Calisthenics style combination training because it build up functional strength, natural looking bodies, you can add lots of creativity to make it fun,  and healthy routines. With my recent experiments, I found that training for mobility and power rather than muscle size gets you the best of all worlds -- and some muscle size as a bonus. I am feeling more fit inside out and the focus has shifted from how do I look to how do I feel after every session.

Many people I talk to lately seems to be looking for something different, as if they are bored of the same old gym/weight routine. It also seems people want to have more fun when they work out that is why places like Crossfit has become so popular in just few years. Functional strength is the strength that you need in everyday tasks, so why not design your training program to focus on that? The photo below is of me only after 4 months of calisthenics type training. My form for this “human flag” is not perfect yet in this picture, but it’s not far off. 

Methodologies in fitness are constantly clashing and will continue to do that. Some say lift heavy, others say don't – whom to listen? You need to experiment with your body/food habits/mind control technique to find out what is working for you. Small changes have started to yield big results for me because I have found my "sweet spot". Find yours...the key is to do the workout you love and do what you can stick with.

Until then, stay focused, safe and try to train all four muscle everyday!

Manjeet Singh

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