Let’s spend a little bit of time today to talk about this Fitness Pyramid. As you can see, it starts with the wide base of Nutrition and builds to the top where at the peak we see Sport. Just like the actual pyramids weren’t built in a day, neither is your fitness. And just like building the pyramids, you have to start at the bottom and build a good base before you can start on the next level.
Your fitness goals will define how far up to the top of the pyramid you go, not everyone has the desire to get the top Sport level. But, wherever you want to go with your fitness, you will need to start at the bottom and work your way up as far as you would like.
CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman laid it all out beautifully in 100 Words:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.
Nutrition – 7 Days a Week
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
It may or may not surprise you that Nutrition is at the base of it all. Your Nutrition is where everything else will come from. Let’s compare this pyramid to a car. Nutrition is the quality of the gas you put into the tank. Low quality in, poor performance out. Looking at this pyramid, we also have to realize that Nutrition is something we should be working on 7 days a week. The way we fuel our bodies is a constant in our lives and something to be cognizant of every time we put food in our mouths.
This is the most important aspect of your wellness and fitness. Without a good base of Nutrition, nothing else will function as well.
Metabolic Conditioning – 4-6 Days a Week
Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.
This is your body’s capacity to do work efficiently. It’s the car’s gas tank. And it isn’t just the size of the tank that matters, but also how efficiently you use the fuel you have – like getting good gas mileage in a street race (fast and furious), a medium trip to visit family (good, steady pace), or a cross country drive (long and consistent with planned rest stops.) Being able to do all well is to your advantage.
Gymnastics – 3 Days a Week
Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.
This is your ability for finer body control and range of motion, it means more than just muscle ups and handstand push ups! This piece is like the frame of your car. All of the other systems and part rely on it for support. You would surely rather drive a well built car than something that has been in an accident and has a smashed front end and dented doors. Safety is a huge concern. You want to know that the vehicle you are occupying will take care of you if something happens. With a nice solid frame and solid core, you are better able to control movements and body positions as well as absorb the impact of weights.
Weightlifting – 2 Days a Week
Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch.
Once you have the rest (solid foundation of nutrition/quality gas, a nice big gas tank of stamina/endurance, and the frame/solid core to put it all on), then we can start to work on the load/amount of weight we are working with. Think about a Mini Cooper and a Ram 1500. Both have the quality gas, the gas tank, and the frame work. Both vehicles have the capacity to pull a boat behind them. But which vehicle do you think can pull that boat MOST efficiently. The bigger vehicle (the one with more horsepower) is going to be built for that task. Both can do it, one can do it well. This isn’t just about carrying the weight, it’s about doing it efficiently. Only after you have the rest can you build the strength though. Your body can only build so much at a time – muscle mass is expensive to build and maintain!
Sport – 1 Day a Week
Regularly learn and play new sports.
Training for sport is the very tip of the pyramid. Once EVERYTHING else is working well, then we can specialize and work on a specific task. It’s your Jeep off roading through the mud. Playing a football game once a week, or running a race – it’s the big day. You are expending a lot of effort and energy and your body needs time to fully recover after a full out effort. That is why it’s something that happens once a week, not everyday. And, to take this back to the beginning, if the foundation, your nutrition, is solid, your body has all of the resources it needs to rest, recover, rebuild, and get ready to do it all again.
I can not stress enough how important getting a good, solid Nutrition base is. Whatever your goals are, Nutrition is where you start. Eating to lose body fat, gain muscle mass, improve energy and performance – what you put into your body matters. Garbage in equals garbage out.
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