What’s the Best Workout?
People always want to know the best way to get in shape, and as a personal trainer and MMA instructor, I’m often asked, “What’s the best workout? What can I do to get the ‘best shape ever’? What’s the fastest, easiest, cheapest, most fun and effective way to reach my fitness goals?”
That’s a really good question, because good shape, healthy, and fit are pretty vague words to describe such a specific desire, there are all kinds of ways to define those things.
Depending on your definition, “good shape” might mean looking lean and muscular, or it might mean feeling good, being energetic, and having a sound mind. “Good shape” could mean that you’re strong, long lasting, and agile.
Regardless of your definition, there is
They want to know the very best, most effective workout that there is.
Move Just move! It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just move your body weight from here to there, and keep it moving. The more you can move, the better your health, shape, and overall function.
That seems obvious, right?
But then people will ask “What about Muscle? I can’t build muscle unless I lift heavy! Bodily movement doesn’t activate enough muscles.”
Building muscle with body weight movement isn’t that hard, especially if you accelerate your body as fast as you can. Moving as fast as you can requires quite a bit of muscular activation Move more and move faster! Moving faster and further burns more calories, and moving faster activates more muscles.
“I just want to have more energy and feel better. I’m not trying to win a race or win a bikini contest!
What if you just want to feel better and have more energy? Move faster and further because it increases blood flow and energy levels.
What about Longevity? What if you just want to be healthier and live longer? Move more and move faster! Duh!
What about Neuroplasticity What if you just want to have more focus and intelligence. Freakin move!
Move More, Get in Shape Regardless of your goals, the trick to getting in shape is to move more.
What is More Movement? Moving your body more means moving your body with more speed or moving for longer distances, or both. Training to move faster for longer periods of time will address all of your training needs at once.
Immobilization vs. Movement Rather than sitting still, and keeping your core in the same spot, like you do when you hit a yoga pose or when you stabilize your body to lift weights, the idea should be to move your belly from one place to another.
Not Yoga or Weights With yoga, you mainly keep the core still while you stretch, lengthen, and relax your muscles. With weight lifting, the main objective is to stabilize the core, while maximizing muscular contraction and muscle tension.
Balanced Between Both When you move your body from one place to another, you’re somewhere in between yoga and weightlifting,
Stiff or Flaccid Imagine if all of your muscles contracted at once. You would be stiff as a board. Now imagine that none of your muscles can contact. You’d be a puddle of water. Either way, too much contraction or too much relaxation, and you’re not moving.
Alternated Activation However, moving your body requires a mixture of both relaxation and contraction. However, bodily movement requires an alternation between on and off. With continuous movement, you go back and forth between contraction and relaxation, tension and laxity, unlike yoga and weightlifting, where you primarily do one or another.
Energy Flow This balance between activity and inactivity enables movement, but it also increases the amount of blood and energy that move throughout your body. With waves of activation and deactivation and waves of flexion and relaxation, energy is put in motion.
Energy Congestion Too much flexion decreases the ability of blood to move through the capillaries, leading to congested energy channels. Flexed muscles and congested blood vessels lead to an accumulation of lactic acid. On the other hand, if you don’t flex your muscles at all, energy flow won’t increase at all, due to a lack of energy demand.
Continuous Flow Continuous, dynamic movement requires repeated, rhythmic flexion and relaxation. This alternation between the opposites causes the body to pump more blood and energy throughout the body. Alternating between activation and deactivation is the best way to increase energy flow, because energy demand is increased by muscle flexion, and blood can move through the arteries, veins, and capillaries when there’s relaxation.
Who cares about Energy Flow? Energy flow is the number one determinant of health and wellness, so if you want to get in shape to live a longer, healthier life, you should focus on moving your body first. The more you move, the longer you’ll live. The strength of one’s energy flow also determines their athleticism, sex appeal, and mental capacity. I know it sounds like I’m saying that you’ll live longer, feel better, perform better, and even get laid, if you can move more. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Mind Control All this balance between activation and deactivation requires a lot of coordination from your brain. Moving more requires more control and attention than any other type of immobilizing workout. This means moving faster and further is a better workout for your brain as well. Nothing lights up your brain like full body movement, and so nothing creates more energy flow throughout the brain, than moving your body.
Physical Balance Not only does your mind grow stronger with bodily movement, but so does your body. When you move, you have to balance the activation within your body. This means that one side of the body has to flex, as the other side of the body relaxes. It’s called reciprocal inhibition, and when you move from one place to another, you alternate between activation and inhibition, alternating from left to right. Balanced activation means balanced movement, so balanced movement means balanced muscle growth.
Natural, safe and healthy All in all, moving dynamically is better for your muscles, joints, and tendons, since we are made to move. Our bodies and minds were designed to move fluidly and freely, and therefore, it’s better for our joints, tendons, and muscles. Our most natural movements, running, jumping, swimming, etc., all require dynamic motion and mobility, all are great for your mind and body.
Performance Since moving your body creates more energy flow and gives your brain a good workout, it also increases your ability to perform on a day to day basis. Regardless of your profession and your purpose, energy flow and mind control will help you perform your job better, so the more you move
Athleticism Moving dynamically is also better for your athleticism and coordination than yoga or weights. Our most athletic movements are made possible with bodily motion, not stiffness or hyper flexibility. Running, jumping, throwing, kicking, and almost any other athletic activity is made possible with movement. The more you’re able to move, the more athletic you are, plain and simple. Yes, being strong and being flexible help you to move more powerfully, but practicing more dynamic movement helps you to be more powerful than practicing strength training and flexibility training separately.
Bigger Picture So, the answer to all of your problems is to just freaking move. It will make you look, feel, and perform better than anything else. Moving is so good for you, that it makes the world a better place. At the end of the day, when you’re a more focused, energetic, and better feeling person, you’re a better person overall. If we all moved a little bit more, the world would be a better place for sure.