First, a little background… (BTW, this will probably end up being a pretty long post!)
I was in the military for 8 1/2 years. During that time, in addition to my normal training, I was able to participate in several special training programs. One of the key training classes that relate to this particular post was called Master Fitness. It was a 4 week-long class (160 hours) that covered what the military considered crucial for building and maintaining a proper fitness program for both large groups and individuals.
After completion of this class I was awarded the distinction of being called a Master Fitness Trainer.
The training covered a lot of ground, but I would like to focus on the following key areas:
- Cardiorespiratory Fitness
Cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness, sometimes called CR endurance, aerobic fitness, or aerobic capacity, is one of the five basic components of physical fitness. CR fitness is a condition in which the body’s cardiovascular (circulatory) and respiratory systems function together, especially during exercise or work, to ensure that adequate oxygen is supplied to the working muscles to produce energy. CR fitness is needed for prolonged, rhythmic use of the body’s large muscle groups. A high level of CR fitness permits continuous physical activity without a decline in performance and allows for rapid recovery following fatiguing physical activity.
Activities such as running, road marching, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, stair climbing, and jumping rope place an extra demand on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. During exercise, these systems attempt to supply oxygen to the working muscles. Most of this oxygen is used to produce energy for muscular contraction. Any activity that continuously uses large muscle groups for 20 minutes or longer taxes these systems. Because of this, a wide variety of training methods is used to improve cardiorespiratory endurance.
- Muscular Endurance and Strength
Muscular fitness has two components: muscular strength and muscular endurance.
Muscular strength is the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to do repeated contractions against a less-than-maximum resistance for a given time.
Although muscular endurance and strength are separate fitness components, they are closely related. Progressively working against resistance will produce gains in both of these components.
Flexibility is a component of physical fitness. Developing and maintaining it are important parts of a fitness program. Good flexibility can help a soldier accomplish such physical tasks as lifting, loading, climbing, parachuting, running, and rappelling with greater efficiency and less risk of injury.
Flexibility is the range of movement of a joint or series of joints and their associated muscles. It involves the ability to move a part of the body through the full range of motion allowed by normal, disease-free joints.
- Body Composition
Body composition, which refers to the body’s relative amounts of fat and lean body mass (organs, bones, muscles), is one of the five components of physical fitness. Good body composition is best gained through proper diet and exercise. Examples of poor body composition are underdeveloped musculature or excessive body fat. Being overweight (that is, overly fat) is the more common problem.
Poor body composition, especially obesity, has a negative effect on appearance, self-esteem, and negatively influences attitude and morale.
Injuries are not an uncommon occurrence during intense physical training. It is, nonetheless, a primary responsibility of all MFT’s to minimize the risk of injury to soldiers. Safety is always a major concern.
Most injuries can be prevented by designing a well-balanced PT program that does not overstress any body parts, allows enough time for recovery, and includes a warm-up and cool-down. Using strengthening exercises and soft, level surfaces for stretching and running also helps prevent injuries. If, however, injuries do occur, they should be recognized and properly treated in a timely fashion.
Many common injuries are caused by overuse, that is, soldiers often exercise too much and too often and with too rapid an increase in the workload.
Most overuse injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Following any required first aid, health-care personnel should evaluate the injured soldier.
- Nutrition and Fitness
In addition to exercise, nutrition plays a major role in attaining and maintaining total fitness. Good dietary habits greatly enhance the ability of soldiers to perform at their maximum potential. A good diet alone, however, will not make up for poor health and exercise habits. Soldiers must know and follow the basic nutrition principles if they hope to maintain weight control as well as achieve maximum physical fitness, good health, and mental alertness.
These are only a few of the training categories, but they are the primary ones that I feel are relevant to this blog post.
All of these training categories are an important part of overall fitness and need to be part of your life long plans. But what about weight loss? There is a common saying: “Fitness happens at the gym, weight loss happens in the kitchen”. Reading this you would think that your fitness plans would be separate from your weight loss plans. The reality is that they are both needed and both must work together.
Nutrition is the key that binds them together.
Strenuous exercise requires proper fuel and nutrition is what provides that fuel. Weight loss simply requires eating less fuel than you are burning. Successful weight loss is a tough balancing act between fitness and nutrition. Eat too much and your fitness efforts will be properly fueled, but you will still gain weight. Eat too little and you will lose weight, but your fitness levels will suffer.
In order to perform this balancing act between nutrition and fitness in order to facilitate weight loss, you really need to know your nutrition requirements.
Determining what your nutrition requirements are on a daily basis is no easy task. Sure there are formulas and estimates out there to help you find a good starting point, but know that every person is different, and every person’s nutrition requirements are likewise different.
How do you determine your nutrition requirements? Ahh, that will have to wait for another post.