8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

Learn my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.

Ben Greenfield,
September 6, 2016
Episode #301

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In several previous Get-Fit Guy episodes, I’ve introduced the concept of “Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands,” also known as the “SAID” principle in exercise science.

For example, in the episode “How To Get Better Results From Weightlifting,” you learn that the SAID principle means that your body will eventually get used to the type of workouts you do, including the load you place on your body, the angle at which that load is placed, your level of fatigue or balance or cognitive challenge when carrying that load, etc. For this reason, it’s important to vary your training as much as possible. While you can achieve this variety by doing some slow cardio workouts, some higher intensity cardio intervals, some cross-training with sports like swimming, soccer or tennis, some explosive weight training, some regular speed weight training, some super slow training, and more, here are my eight top quick and dirty tips to ensure you beat back the SAID principle and gradually grow your fitness all year long.

1. Static Balance --> Dynamic Balance --> Loaded Balance

This first tip is a perfect example of this type of balance progression: stand on one foot. Got it? Good. That’s static, unmoving balance and it’s not too complex, right? Next stand on one foot but add dynamic balance, such as a bosu ball, wobbly board, foam mat, or other unstable device. Then finally, stand on one leg in a dynamic balance situation, and add load, such as a dumbbell overhead press. This progression might begin with a single leg balance feeling difficult for you, but eventually gets to the point where that single leg static balance is easy, and the other moves build in complexity to ensure you gradually build balance all year long.

2. Low Speed --> High Speed

When you lift weights at a slow and controlled speed, you primarily utilize Type 1 slow-twitch muscle fibers, and don’t tax your nervous system quite as heavily. But at the same time, you neglect fast-twitch muscle utilizing, high speed, explosive components of fitness that build your neuromuscular power. To overcome this issue, you can take exercises that you normally do very slow and controlled and do them explosively instead. This would include moves such as progressing from a regular pushup to instead performing a powerful, explosive clap pushup, a regular squat to a jump squat or a benchpress to a medicine ball throw.

3. Open Eyes --> Closed Eyes

You’d be surprised at how much an exercise changes in terms of everything from balance to body awareness to conscious muscle utilization when you lift weights with your eyes closed versus your eyes open. For example, you can take a simple exercise such as a barbell squat, and simply do it with your eyes closed, focusing on hip and hamstring utilization. Or, for something more complex, you can take any balance exercise, such as a single legged squat, and do it with your eyes closed instead of eyes open. Just don’t collide into any people or objects at the gym!

4.  Without Load --> With Load

This modification is relatively straightforward. Obviously you can progress from a push-up to a benchpress or a body weight squat to a weighted squat or body weight lunge to a weighted lunge, etc. But there are some exercises you may have never have thought about loading. Take a front plank for example. Too easy? Put on a weighted vest or a weight plate on your back. Try holding dumbbells for a stairclimber or steep treadmill incline walk. When you go on a hike, put a kettlebell in your backpack. You get the idea! This is especially important if you’ve lost a lot of fat, because your body doesn’t have to work quite as hard, especially during body weight exercises, to carry it’s own weight around.


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