(Picture Above: Myself and two of my students at a local 5K Charity Run. Being in Bayani Warrior means being in good health and maintaining a good level of fitness)
As the Chief Instructor of Bayani Warrior Group (www.bayaniwarrior.com), I make my living from teaching the Filipino martial arts full-time. A big part of my job is making sure I have a good level of physical fitness to keep up with teaching and sparring with my students. It’s important to be in good shape not just for aesthetic reasons, but more importantly, to function and to be healthier in every aspect of your life.
First, let me repeat that I am NOT a fitness professional. I am a martial arts teacher, life coach, and fitness enthusiast. While fitness is definitely an important aspect of my job (training people and sparring everyday tends to require an athletic body), I am not exactly an expert on fitness. My approach is unique to myself, and to my goals as well.
It must be made clear that everyone’s goals are different. Some people’s goals are to lose weight (which means both FAT and MUSCLE). Others want to get more lean and reduce body fat. Others want to just be able to brush their teeth without seeing their tummy jiggle. For me, my goal is very simple: Maintain a healthy, athletic frame while developing functional strength, endurance, and flexibility. I disregard 90 percent of common fitness advice, simply because a lot of what is out there isn’t relevant to my goals. As a martial artist, I want a body that not only looks athletic, but more importantly, can perform on an elite level while maintaining health and being injury-free. Swinging weapons, throwing knives, shooting firearms, and sparring require a level of fitness that is different to say, a bodybuilder or fitness model, and therefore, my fitness routine mirrors what I do when fighting and training. For example, I do not do bench presses, simply because I don’t do that in a fight. However, I will jump rope, hit the heavy bag, swing heavy bats and pipes, and hoist sandbags, because that mirrors what I do in a fight.
(Picture Above: I personally adhere to a fitness method geared on Warrior-Based Skill sets as opposed to standard fitness methods focused on aesthetics)
So, the best advice I could start out with is this: Know specifically what your goal is, and from there, work toward that goal. Every goal is different, and every goal requires it’s own unique path.Simply saying, “I want to lose weight” is not enough. What kind of weight do you want to lose? Do you want to lose fat, or muscle? Do you want to simply get leaner? These questions may feel nit-picky, but the truth is that fitness goals, like any other goal, require SPECIFIC vision as to what you are looking to accomplish.
(Picture Above: Getting fit is not easy. Like anything else, it requires a solid goal and a solid plan to get to that goal.)
Next, you need to formulate a plan to get to that goal. This plan will require that you do some research. You Tube is a great place to start. Growing up, I was obsessed with fitness magazines, which helped me understand the body on various levels. Another option is to get a personal trainer. While expensive, a personal trainer can get you started on your fitness goals. They save you the research and time it takes to learn to do things on your own. If you don’t want to get a personal trainer, then I recommend magazines such as Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health (Women’s Health as well for you ladies), simply because they have workouts and advice that are illustrated in plain English. But again, you need to know your goals. Without the specific goal in mind, there is no guarantee of success.
(Picture Above: Says it all. Your actions will dictate how far you go with your goals.)
Next, and this might seem overly obvious: WORK REALLY HARD. While it’s important to pace yourself in the beginning, don’t get stuck there. Push yourself every workout. If you aren’t sweating hardcore from head to toe, and not feeling every muscle in your body working to it’s limits, then odds are, you won’t get the results you want. If I could recommend one form of exercise to everyone out there, one that is guaranteed to get your whole body pumping and sweating, then it has to be hitting a heavy bag, or some kind of real kickboxing workout (No Tae Bo for me, thank you very much). Hitting a bag, or some focus pads, hits every muscle in the body, and you’d be hard pressed to find a workout that makes your body lean, tones muscles, and keeps your cardio up the way hitting a heavy bag does. I’ve seen marathon runners pass out after 2 rounds on the heavy bag. The heavy bag, next to jumping rope, is truly a workout that burns fat and builds muscle simultaneously. Here is a video of a typical workout I do during the winter which involves Kali-specific exercises as well as heavy bag training and jumping rope.
Now, the number one thing that gets in the way of people is their motivation and desire. So many people out there fail only because they got lazy. The truth is, everyone gets lazy, even myself at times. So, what motivates one to keep working out even if they are tired or lazy? Well, the best advice I heard came from legendary rapper, LL Cool J. In an interview about how he maintains his physique, he told the interviewer: ”The secret? Do what you need to do, when you DON’T feel like doing it.” It sounds dumb, but it holds a lot of wisdom. The fact is that you need to do what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it. That’s how Olympians are made. That’s how champions are made.
(Picture Above: Muhammad Ali had it right. He didn’t become “The Greatest” by sticking within his comfort zone. Pushing yourself is the only way to see real results.)
However, while hard work is imperative, rest is also important. You can’t expect to train like a madman everyday, but you can always challenge yourself everyday. Your body needs ample time to recuperate from tough workouts. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, along with a solid diet (read the next paragraph) is essential for fitness success. I consider sleep a form of training, since the nervous system ingrains the skills and rebuilds muscle tissue as you sleep.
(Picture Above: Sleep should be seen as another form of training. Recovery is just as important as training hard.)
Now, the fundamental truth that exists regardless of what your respective goals might be is that your DIET dictates how your body will look. The belief that you can “eat whatever you want and burn it off later during your workout” is only true for people who train at least 4 hours per day (Olympian Michael Phelps is a good example), and even then, it’s not guaranteed that your body will look it’s best. You need to ensure your diet is balanced and clean. The two diets I recommend are the Zone Diet and the Paleo Diet. The Zone Diet was introduced to me by Tuhon Carl Atienza, my teacher and mentor, who used it with great results. I purchased some books on the Zone Diet and I felt that the results came faster than any diet I tried, and it was a lot less restrictive than other diets. The Paleo Diet is a lot simpler than the Zone Diet, but is also a lot more restrictive in terms of what you can eat. I tend to obey a balance of the two. Then, on the weekends, I like to cheat on my diet: chocolate, ice cream, burgers, fries, etc. Then come Monday, it’s back to the diet. I feel this affords me a great deal of flexibility, since the weekends are the time where I actually tend to go out, socialize, and eat.
(Picture Above: An example of a plate according to the Zone Diet)
In conclusion, fitness is an essential part of training. By being in better shape, not only are you better prepared to handle the rigors of training, but you also develop a great deal of discipline and overall sense of well-being. Stop making excuses and start eating and training right. If you do, you’ll find your life will improve both in training and out.
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