Last week, Brock Armstrong introduced the new host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast, Dr. Jonathan Su. In this episode, the two fitness buffs discuss optimizing performance, fitness trends, and the best way to get and stay fit.
As I said last week, this two-part episode will be the final times you will read my words and hear my voice as the Get-Fit Guy. But not before I conclude giving you a full introduction to your new Get-Fit Guy podcast host, Dr. Jonathan Su.
Before we dive into the second half of my conversation with Jonathan, I want to let you know that if you enjoy and value what I bring to your fitness life, you can continue to follow me on my new podcast called Upgraded Fitness. In that show, I will continue to give my down-to-earth fitness advice and also interview experts in a longer form format. Plus, it makes a great companion show to Get-Fit Guy so you don’t have to choose between me or Jonathan! So, look for Upgraded Fitness where ever you listen to audio.
The New Get-Fit Guy, Dr. Jonathan Su
During your time as an officer in the U.S. Army, you served as a subject matter expert for injury prevention, rehabilitation, and human performance. Can you tell us more about “human performance” and how you develop that?
Sure, so human performance is about being able to function at your potential in your arena of competition. In the Army, it was about helping soldiers win on the battlefield. For a triathlete, it may be about achieving a personal best race time. But you don't have to be a soldier or an athlete to make use of human performance concepts because they’re useful to anyone who wants to get fit.
For me, developing human performance is like baking a cake. The essential ingredients for this cake are: movement, nutrition, recovery, and mindset. The trick is to combine these ingredients in the right amount at the right time, and just like how every oven is different so that your baking time at the same temperature may have to be slightly different, every person is also different in terms of genetics, body type, and movement experience, so a human performance program would ideally be customized.
How does training “tactical athletes” fit into that (and what is a tactical athlete)?
“Tactical athletes” are people with the physical and mental ability to function on the battlefield. It also refers to people such as fire and rescue, law enforcement, and other emergency personnel who have to perform in austere environments. Human performance training for tactical athletes is unique and challenging because unlike athletes in regular sports, you have to develop all components of fitness.
For example, a tactical athlete needs to have the speed and endurance of a marathon runner and the strength, agility, and power of a UFC fighter. That’s because you’re required to run 15 miles while carrying a heavy load and then fight for three days with limited food and sleep.
So a typical training week for a tactical athlete might include strength training, HIIT training for improved work capacity, distance running with a load for endurance, speed and agility work, powerlifting, and, of course, stability and mobility work for injury prevention.
The most common question I have gotten asked as the Get-Fit Guy is “What is the best way to get fit?” How would you answer that question?
Like you, I’ve worked with people wanting to get fit after being sedentary for a while, sometimes after decades of little to no activity, and this question inevitably comes up. I find that the biggest challenge for most people is being able to stay consistent with their fitness program. So the best way to get fit is to do what you enjoy and keep it short and simple so you can stay consistent with it. Is rowing better than stationary biking? Are free weights better than machines? Is running better than walking? It’s irrelevant if you’re not consistent. The best way to get fit after a long break is to do what you enjoy and keep it short and simple. You can always add more elements to your workouts once it becomes a habit.
Another big challenge that people face in getting fit are injuries. You get yourself psyched up to get fit, stay fit, or achieve a personal record and it’s easy to do a little more than your body is ready for and then boom, pain and injury. An injury is the quickest way to derail your fitness plans because it can put you out for at least four to six weeks and you typically end up at a lower fitness level than when you started. So you’ve got to listen to your body, be able to differentiate between good pain and bad pain, add variety to your workouts so you don’t get repetitive use injuries, have adequate recovery time, and take baby steps in making exercise more challenging.
What do you think the next big trend in fitness is going to be - and - what is the one fitness trend you wish would just go away?
I believe the next big fitness trend will be inclusive fitness. Inclusive fitness is the idea that fitness is for people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. Fitness can be intimidating and even terrifying for people who don’t fall into the traditional stereotype of someone who is into fitness. Think about it, walk into a pilates studio, a yoga class, or even a regular gym and what do you see? Mostly fit-looking people.
So we end up excluding a massive segment of the population who can benefit most from the transformative power of movement. To make fitness inclusive, it would have to look different than how it looks now. Imagine with me for a moment, a fitness class for heavier people that replaces burpees and jump squats with lower impact exercises that still provide an intense workout. And what if this class also addressed back pain and maybe even something we can all use more of, like self-love? I believe fitness can and should be medicine for your body and your mind in an intentional way.
One fitness trend I wish would disappear is prolonged running with a weighted vest. The rate of back and knee injuries I saw while working with soldiers who had to train with a load really surprised me and these were people who were young and really fit. I’m not convinced that for most people, the pros of prolonged running with a weighted vest outweigh the cons, especially if running with a load is not part of your job description.
Can you give us a sneak peek at what you will be covering in the near future as the new Get-Fit Guy?
I’d be happy to, Brock! My first episode will look at how you can get the most health benefits from the most popular form of exercise in the world: walking. Walking is great for people of all ages but research shows that 40% of people who walk as their main form of exercise aren’t reaping the full health benefits. In this episode, I’ll show you what you can do to get the most out of walking. Another future episode will show you how to prevent the most common cause of knee pain using three simple exercises you can do at home with little or no equipment. I’m also working on an episode that’ll show you how to improve your mental game of exercise for better results.
Official Passing of the Barbel
For the last four years, I have concluded all of the Get-Fit Guy podcast episodes by saying "My name is Brock Armstrong and I'm the Get-Fit Guy" but this time, and going forward, it will be "My name is Dr. Jonathan Su and I'm the Get-Fit Guy."
And with that, I bid you all a fond farewell.