How To Unlock Your Fitness Potential

I’ll share seven strategies for unlocking your fitness potential. If you follow each one exactly, I guarantee you will experience dramatic improvements in your strength, balance, and energy in as little as 15 days.

What you’re about to learn is distilled from my experience working one-on-one with thousands of older adults.

Prioritize Your Hips and Legs

The first strategy to unlock your fitness potential is to prioritize your hip and leg muscles. To achieve this, I recommend exclusively working on your lower body and holding off on your upper body for the first eight weeks.

There are two important reasons why I make this recommendation for older adults. First and foremost, healthy, strong hips and legs allow you to stand and walk safely and hence be self-sufficient. While having a weak upper body can be inconvenient, weakness in your lower body negatively impacts your overall quality of life more. 

Developing a strong lower body with exercises will help you navigate your environment safely. You’ll be able to remain steady on your feet even in challenging circumstances, like walking on a slippery surface; and if you do happen to fall, you’re more likely to emerge unscathed if you have strong hips and legs.

Second, the muscles in your hips and legs are the largest and strongest in your entire body. Research shows that higher-intensity strength exercises targeting these muscles increase your body’s production of testosterone and human growth hormones.

Levels of these hormones decline as we age; being able to naturally increase their production through exercise offers a wealth of benefits for older adults. These include building lean muscle, increasing bone density, reducing body fat, boosting energy, and strengthening the immune system.

Exclusively working your lower body and holding off on your upper body for the first eight weeks will allow you to focus on what’s most important, get comfortable with the workout program, and reap a lot of gains.

That’s strategy number one. Let’s move on to the second strategy, which is to dial up the intensity and dial down the time on exercise.

Action Steps

Notice whether you feel resistant to the idea of not exercising your upper body in the beginning. If so, where do you think this resistance comes from? What would help you to entertain the ideas in this chapter?

Dial Up the Intensity, Dial Down the Time

The second strategy to unlocking your fitness potential is to dial up the intensity, dial down the time on exercise. Research confirmed that higher-intensity exercise is safe and more effective than traditional exercise for older adults, despite its substantially lower time commitment. 

But the benefits of dialing up the intensity and dialing down the time don’t end there; research also shows that multiple short bouts (six minutes or less) of higher-intensity exercise spread throughout the day are more effective than a single longer bout of exercise.

This means you get better results from exercising for 6 minutes twice daily than from minutes once daily. The total time commitment is the same for both routines, but the multiple short bouts of exercise are more effective, probably because you’re able to maintain a higher intensity during your workout.

Studies also show that, given the choice between working at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time or working at a lower intensity for longer, older adults more likely will be consistent with the former than the latter.

Being consistent with exercise is one of the most important things you need to do to get results. It’s also one of the hardest. So having an exercise program that older adults more likely will stick with, despite the increased difficulty, is critical.

There’s an added benefit to these short periods of activity: it’s been my experience that shorter bouts of higher-intensity exercise result in less wear and tear on the body. Higher-intensity programs require fewer repetitions of movements to achieve similar benefits compared with lower-intensity programs.

This means you reduce the wear and tear effects on your body, which decreases the risk of overuse, injury, and pain. You have seen the many reasons why dialing up the intensity, dialing down the time on exercise is ideal for older adults.

Action Steps

Has being consistent with exercise been a challenge for you in the past? If so, do you think you would be more consistent if the exercise was at a higher intensity but for a much shorter period of time?

Push Until You Feel Tired—Then Push a Little More

The third strategy to unlocking your fitness potential is to push until you feel tired, and then push a little more. In the field of exercise science, this is the principle of overload. It states that a greater than normal stress on the body is required for training adaptation to take place.

In plain language, this means you must challenge your body to go beyond what is familiar and comfortable for improvements to take place.

While exercising, you naturally want to stop and rest or catch your breath when you start feeling tired. Your body doesn’t like to do more work than it has to, and it will let you know by making you feel sore, exhausted, and consumed with the desire to quit. But if you give in to your body’s demands too early and stop exercising, you won’t make much progress because you’re not giving your body the increased stress it needs to change.

When you continue to exercise beyond the point where you would normally quit, you signal to your body that the demands you’re placing on it are the new normal. As a result, your body will very quickly change to meet these demands; this change translates directly into rapid increases in strength and endurance.

Now you may be thinking that six minutes is too short of a time to push yourself past the point where you would normally quit. I assure you, it’s not. Remember, our goal here is to work harder, not longer. In other words, we improve our bodies by increasing the intensity of exercise, not the time. 

For example, a person can walk a mile in 30 minutes, or they can attempt to run the same distance in 6 minutes. Although the distance is the same, the 6-minute mile pace is more intense and will yield significantly more improvements in the body than the 30- minute mile pace. 

At the 6-minute mile pace, most people, not just older adults, would tire and quit in less than 3 minutes. Even so, those 3 minutes of intense activity will create more improvements in endurance than walking the entire mile in 30 minutes. 

Let me be clear. Nowhere in this book am I going to ask you to go out and run a mile, but I hope this example clarifies that by increasing the intensity of exercise, 6 minutes is plenty of time to create massive improvements in strength and function.

80/20 Percent Technique

To push yourself, then push a little more, your goal of the first 80 percent of the workout is just to get you to the point of fatigue. Exercise during this part of the workout doesn’t change your body much because you’re not yet pushing your limits. Your body can handle this level of exercise quite comfortably and so does not need to change to accommodate it.

The goal of the remaining 20 percent of the workout—when you’ve reached your perceived limit of fatigue—is to make dramatic improvements. In this critical period near the end of your workout, when you’re feeling sore, exhausted, and wanting to quit, don’t. 

Instead, push for a few more seconds or a few more repetitions (a repetition is the number of times you perform a particular movement in your workout). In other words, you push until you feel tired—and then push a little more.

This is how you provide the greater than normal stress your body requires for training adaptations to take place. This is how you challenge your body to go beyond what is familiar and comfortable and make improvements.

You may have noticed I used the phrase “perceived limit of fatigue.” Your mind will tell you to stop well before your body has reached its actual limit of fatigue because the mind doesn’t like unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. Not only is it normal to feel sore, exhausted, and consumed with the desire to quit during exercise, it’s actually desirable. See it as a sign that you’re doing something right.

When you push until you feel tired and then push a little more, your body will very rapidly change in ways that will surprise you and everyone who knows you.

Action Steps

Imagine that you’ve reached your perceived limit of fatigue during exercise. Think about how you can get yourself to push for a few more seconds or a few more repetitions of exercise. Would it be a thought, an image, a memory, something you say out loud, or something else?

Take Baby Steps to Make Exercise More Challenging

The fourth strategy to unlocking your fitness potential is to take baby steps in making exercise more challenging. In the field of exercise science, this is the principle of progression. It states that a systematic increase in the workload over a period of time will result in improvements in fitness without risk of injury.

In other words, your body will continue to get stronger while avoiding injuries if you increase the challenge gradually.

You’ll notice that the exact same workout routine will begin to feel easier over a period of days or weeks, depending on how hard you push yourself. You should be proud of this: it’s a sign that your body has adapted to exercise. 

But once your body has adapted, you won’t experience much more improvement if you continue to perform the same workout exactly as before. For your body to continually increase its strength and endurance, you have to make your routine more challenging. You can achieve this by adding a new exercise, increasing the repetitions, upping the pace, or decreasing the rest time during exercise.

I recommend taking baby steps toward making exercise more challenging. For example, you might increase the number of repetitions for a particular exercise from 10 to 12 or decrease the rest time from 30 seconds to 25. At first, you’ll notice that these changes will make exercise feel more difficult. But with consistent effort over a few days or weeks, your body will adapt and exercise will feel easier again. 

Your goal is to repeat this process of making your exercise more challenging every time you feel your workout has become easier. By doing this in baby steps, your body will continue to get stronger and avoid injuries at the same time.

Of course, injury can result if you increase the challenge too steeply. For example, if performing 5 repetitions of exercise is difficult for you, jumping to 15 repetitions the next day would be attempting too much, too soon. Instead, you should consider taking a baby step from 5 repetitions to 6 repetitions and sticking with this until it starts to feel easier before taking another step to seven or eight repetitions.

To avoid injuries, it’s important to take baby steps and to spend a day or two and, sometimes even a week or more, with the more challenging workout to ensure that your body has fully adapted to it.

It’s important to mention that taking a day or two off every week is also important to help your body adapt to exercise. However, it’s been my experience that working daily for the first two weeks of this program is a powerful way to kickstart change without increasing the risk of injury.

Action Steps

Think about whether you tend to increase the challenge of exercise too much or not enough. How would you recognize when this is happening? What can you do to find a better balance?

Exercise Daily for the First Two Weeks to Kickstart Change

The fifth strategy to unlocking your fitness potential is to kickstart change by exercising daily for the first two weeks. This goes against the conventional wisdom that says you should ease into a new exercise program, particularly if you’ve been sedentary for a while.

My experience working with literally thousands of older adults over the years tells a different story: by exercising daily for the first two weeks, your body gets the kickstart it needs to change with no added risk of injury. 

Unless you introduce a greater volume of exercise at the beginning of the program, your body may get stuck in low gear, and then you run the risk of seeing little to no progress for all your hard work.

To illustrate this point, I like to use the analogy of launching a rocket into space. The rocket needs a lot more energy at the beginning of the flight to overcome the inertia of Earth’s gravitational force, but once it’s in orbit, the amount of energy required to stay up there is minimal. 

Like a rocket heading for space, your body needs more effort at the start of its journey to overcome its current state of inertia.

After exercising daily for the first two weeks, you won’t need to invest as much energy to continue progressing. At this stage, you can rest for one day a week.

This day of rest will help your body recover and avoid injuries, and keep you motivated so you can push yourself when it’s time to exercise again.

After eight weeks of exercise, you can rest for two or three days a week if you’re happy with your progress, don’t see a need for more gains, and just want to maintain the gains you’ve already made.

By following this strategy, you’ll see your strength, balance, and energy launches like a rocket to new levels that’ll amaze you and everyone you know.

Action Steps

Consider how the suggestion of exercising daily for the first two weeks sits with you. Do you like it, not like it, or feel neutral about it? If you have strong feelings about it, what do you think is behind them?

Distinguish Between “Good Pain” and “Bad Pain”

We’ve all heard the saying “no pain, no gain,” and it’s true that physical discomfort is a part of exercise. But there is such a thing as “bad pain.” The sixth strategy to unlock your fitness potential is to make the distinction between “good pain” and “bad pain.” It’s important to understand this distinction so you’ll know when it’s safe to keep pushing yourself and when you should stop.

So what exactly is the difference between good pain and bad pain? Simply put, good pain leads to gains, while bad pain doesn’t.

Good pain is a normal—and even desired—part of exercise because it’s a sign that you’re pushing your body hard enough to cause change. During a workout, good pain feels like soreness, burning, or fatigue in your muscles. 

You may also notice yourself breathing harder than normal. The human body generally dislikes being out of its comfort zone; when you experience this kind of pain, consider it a sign that you’re doing something right. For better or for worse, good pain is part of the process of getting fitter.

On the other hand, bad pain indicates something might be off and that you could be working against yourself. During a workout, bad pain may be a sharp, stabbing, or shooting pain that spreads; repeated painful pops; or pain with swelling. 

A good rule of thumb is that if the bad pain is a one-off and you don’t feel it again, it’s nothing to stress about. However, if it continues to be felt when you move a particular muscle or joint, stop performing the exercise.

The line between good pain and bad pain can get a little blurred in older adults. If you’re out of shape or have been sedentary for a while, it’s normal to feel stiffness or aching in your body and a burning sensation in your lungs as your body gets used to working and breathing harder. It’s also common to feel stiffness and aching in the lower back, hips, and knees as we age. 

One reason for this is age-related muscle loss, combined with the relentless force of gravity over decades, leads to painful pressure on our joints. Doctors frequently give a diagnosis of osteoarthritis for this type of pain. Fortunately, in most studies, exercise has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in people with osteoarthritis in the back, hips, and knees.

Many people worry about clicking or grinding in their shoulders, knees, or other joints during exercise. These “noises” are not necessarily worrisome unless they are painful. If you’re really out of shape, it’s also normal to feel weak and tired for a few hours after exercising; this feeling may sometimes last for an entire day. 

Muscle soreness often sets in six to eight hours after your exercise, and it may last for two or three days. That’s normal, too.

I hope what you’ve learned in this chapter makes the distinction between good pain and bad pain clearer. Remember, good pain leads to gains while bad pain doesn’t. By making the distinction between the two, you’ll know when to keep pushing yourself during exercise and when to stop.

Action Steps

The next time you perform physical activity that is more vigorous than normal, notice whether what you’re feeling is good pain or bad pain. If you have stiffness or aching in your body, notice what happens after you’ve been inactive for a while and then start moving again. Osteoarthritis usually feels better after your body gets moving.

Eat High-Quality Protein to Boost Strength Gains

The seventh and final strategy to unlocking your fitness potential is to eat high-quality proteins during each meal to boost strength gains. Protein from your diet is the raw material for building muscle mass and strength.

The importance of eating enough high-quality protein cannot be overemphasized. Performing strength exercises with insufficient protein intake hinders the development of muscles.

Research shows that it’s harder to reverse age-related muscle loss and improve strength in older adults if they don’t have adequate protein intake.

Studies have also shown that older adults need more protein than their younger counterparts. Inadequate protein intake is a concern for older adults and not only contributes to muscle loss, but also results in increased skin fragility, decreased immune system function, poorer healing, and longer recuperation times after illness.

A review published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care recommended older adults consume 25–30 grams of high-quality protein per meal to enhance muscle growth and prevent age-related muscle loss.

What makes protein “high-quality”? It’s a combination of three things:

  1. How easily your body can break down the protein into its parts (called amino acids).
  2. The actual parts that a protein will become when your body breaks it down (its amino acid profile).
  3. How available the parts are to support muscle maintenance and growth.

High-quality proteins are easily broken down by your body, contain all the parts your body needs to build muscle, and are readily available for your body to use. Not all sources of protein contain all the building blocks your body needs to build muscle. For example, many vegetables contain protein, but it is of low quality.

The foods below contain high-quality proteins that provide everything your body needs. Remember, the goal is to consume 25–30 grams of protein per meal:

Animal

  • Chicken breast (3 ounces): 28 grams protein
  • Steak (3 ounces): 26 grams protein
  • Turkey (3 ounces): 25 grams protein
  • Lamb (3 ounces): 23 grams protein
  • Pork (3 ounces): 22 grams protein
  • Egg (large): 8 grams protein

Seafood

  • Salmon (3 ounces): 22 grams protein
  • Tuna (3 ounces): 22 grams protein
  • Tilapia (3 ounces): 22 grams protein
  • Cod (3 ounces): 20 grams protein
  • Rainbow trout (3 ounces): 20 grams protein
  • Shrimp (3 ounces): 20 grams protein

Dairy

  • Greek yogurt (6 ounces): 18 grams protein
  • Cottage cheese (4 ounces): 14 grams protein
  • Regular yogurt (1 cup): 11 grams protein
  • Milk (1 cup): 8 grams protein
  • Mozzarella cheese (1 ounce): 7 grams protein

Vegetarian/Vegan

  • Blend of pinto beans and rice (1 cup): 11 grams protein
  • Blend of black beans and rice (1 cup): 8 grams protein
  • Tofu (3.5 ounces): 8 grams protein
  • Soy milk (1 cup): 8 grams protein

When it comes to maintaining and building muscle mass and strength, eating enough high-quality protein is just as important as performing strength exercises regularly. But before making any changes to your diet, be sure to speak to your doctor.

Action Steps

Use the list of high-quality proteins provided in this article to get an idea of how much protein you’re consuming at each meal. Are you eating 25–30 grams of high-quality protein each time? If not, what changes can be made?

In this article, you’ve learned seven strategies for unlocking your fitness potential. If you follow each one exactly, I guarantee you will experience remarkable improvements in your strength, balance, and energy in two short weeks.

Do You Have to Take Supplements For Unlocking Your Fitness Potential?

Some people might use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

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