PUTTING IT TOGETHER
IT IS TIME to put together all the information and combine it into training programmes. There are three here, all designed for people who don’t currently take much exercise but want to start getting fit.
The Desk Driver’s programme takes up the least time and involves the least effort. It is designed on the principle that any exercise is better than none, but it will have a very noticeable effect on your general fitness. Unless you want to play sport at the weekend, you do not need any special equipment other than the basic training gear, and you don’t need to go to a gym or sports centre (unless you want to!).
The Semi-Pro programme is for people who want to improve their fitness significantly, but who don’t have the time or need to scale the heights of the full MMA Fit programme. To complete the Semi-Pro programme, you need to have access to a swimming pool and, preferably, a sports centre.
The MMA Fit programme will take you to a very high level of physical fitness. It requires determination and dedication to see it through, but by the end you will be ready to conquer the world (well, nearly). To complete the MMA Fit programme, you will need to have access to a gym and a swimming pool and be prepared to visit them several times each week. As the programme takes four months to complete, you should also be prepared to suffer some wear and tear on both your body and your equipment.
How the Programmes Work
The MMA Fit programmes are designed to get you to the level of fitness you want in the shortest possible time, with the least amount of physical stress. They start gently enough and progress in a way that will accustom you to taking a lot of exercise in small, easily manageable doses. They will also accommodate any sporting activity that you normally take part in. If you play soccer, rugby, tennis, squash or any other high-activity sport, you can substitute it for any training session in the programme and then continue as normal the next day. Be warned however: you don’t get fit overnight. No diet or fitness programme works unless you stick with it, and you must discipline yourself. Despite that, the MMA Fit programmes are easy to follow because the high level of activity means that you need to worry much less about your food intake. It won’t matter if you indulge in an occasional blow-out and you can certainly have a few beers every now and again.
What About Interruptions?
Don’t worry if you miss a day now and then — enjoy the rest and console yourself with the thought that your body is being given an unexpected day off. Similarly, if you find the training load becoming too much, take an extra day off to recover — you’ve earned it and you will find it easier to get back into the swing after a rest. But if you get an injury or become ill, or you are forced to stop training for more than five days for some other reason, you will have to drop back at least a week in the programme (and probably more for illness or injury). Don’t get downhearted, though.
If you want a beer or a glass of wine, have one. Treat alcohol as food — lager is about 200 calories per pint, for example. But remember: if you’re getting loaded on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem which you need to get sorted out. A fit person will be able to handle a moderate booze-up occasionally, but you have to be sensible about it. Incidentally, don’t take exercise when you’re very hung-over — the chances are that you will be dehydrated which could lead to serious heat injuries. Stay in bed and promise yourself that you will never, ever do it again.
Inevitably some smokers will try to follow the programmes, and some will be able to handle them with ease Think, as you’re coughing your guts up after the session, how much easier it would be if you didn’t smoke. You may know some smart-arse Mister Fitty who piles down 40 a day and can still run a 4-minute mile, but he’s probably lying. Anyway, think how much faster he could go if he didn’t smoke.
And Finally …
Don’t become a PT hermit. Exercise shouldn’t normally take up more than an hour or so per day, including changing and showering time, so don’t let it stop you from doing other things that you enjoy. After a while, you will find that you have more energy for things like playing with the kids, or even sex, so take advantage of it. Good health and fitness should be a part of your life, but try not to let it rule your life.
STAYING SHARP injuries because, nine times out of ten, you will only make them worse, possibly doing yourself serious and permanent damage in the process. Accept the setback and resolve to fight on — remember, nobody ever said it was going to be easy!
If you have any doubts about your ability to cope with the exercise programmes described here, check first with your doctor.
IT IS ALL TOO EASY to become hung up on fitness and dieting — just look at the number of people who develop eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Much of this has been aided by the ‘health’ industry, which continues to advertise spurious dieting aids and fitness books which promise quick fixes. The fact is that they don’t work, but scare tactics are causing more and more people to try them. There is no point in following some trendy new health fad if you’re going to turn into a psychotic weirdo as a result — so here are a few factors to think about before you turn down the second helping of that delicious pudding and reach for the distilled water.
The quantity of exercise you take on the MMA Fit programmes will markedly raise the amount of food that you can eat without getting fat. If someone invites you out for a meal, or you fancy going out yourself, you’re not going to turn into the Michelin man. Provided you aren’t pigging out every other night, the odd big meal will do you no harm at all.
BY NOW YOU will have realized that one of the hardest parts of any fitness programme or diet is actually staying with it.
As the nights draw in and the weather gets bad, it can be all too easy to start skipping training much too often. If you do this, you won’t be able to stick with the programme, you won’t make the gains that you should be making and you may lose the will to continue — it can happen to anyone. So how to avoid this? Quite easily, in fact, and outlined below are some basic techniques which can help you beat the poor-motivation blues.
The most basic motivating technique is goal setting. The reason that anyone starts a fitness programme or diet is to get fitter or lose weight. Unfortunately, both of these things take time — you cannot go from running an 8-minute mile to running a 4-minute mile overnight, just as you can’t lose 20 lb in a week. The trick is to set yourself intermediate and realistic goals.
Suppose that you are 20 lb overweight at the start of the MMA Fit programme The MMA Fit programme lasts for 16 weeks, during which you are going to take a lot of exercise and eat sensibly (without starving yourself). Sixteen weeks is a long time and, while you know that the weight is falling off you, 20 lb is a fair bit to lose. At times you will be asking yourself ‘Is it worth it?’ because the gains that you are achieving don’t seem too special against the overall target that you’ve set. The answer is to set yourself a realistic weekly target of losing I lb — which is not at all difficult and represents a much more immediate achievement.
When you get up on the first day of the programme, empty your bowels, weigh yourself and make a note of the result. Do the same thing at the same time every week and you will see how much progress you are making. After you’ve been doing this for a month, assess your level of success — you may be able to shift your target to losing 2 lb a week, or you may find that you’re not shedding weight quickly enough and need to think about your food intake. (Unless you’re pigging out on every available goodie, you should be able to lose 2 lb a week with ease.)
You can do much the same thing for running, swimming and lifting weights. Note the time it takes to run or swim a set distance, remember the weight with which you can comfortably perform 12 reps, and set a target to beat each week. It is the same as the old proverb: ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’ What’s more, it works.
The second technique is complementary to the first. All that visualization requires you to do is fantasize. When you are out running, or in the pool, or in the gym, imagine how you are going to look with no excess fat, more muscular definition and the improved posture and body shape that accompanies real fitness — not bad at all, huh? Forget the pain, because when you’ve finished the programme you really are going to look like that! Each time you push a weight in the bench press, think about your pectorals getting larger and stronger; each mile you run, think how your heart and lungs are getting more powerful, more efficient. Look at the people who aren’t training with you and remember how much they are going to want to be like you when you achieve your ultimate goal.
Having completed one or more of the programmes and achieved an improved level of physical fitness, it is essential that you don’t give in to the temptation to rest on your laurels and slide back into your old ways. With your new-found fitness, you will have a great deal more energy and ability to get things done. You will also have accustomed your body to taking a lot of exercise. But there’s no point in getting stale either — chances are that you will become bored with an endless round of gym workouts, running and swimming.
The solution is to look around for alternatives. With the full MMA Fit programme, for example, you will have achieved a level of all-round fitness that will enable you to take up a new sport or activity with ease — ease because you won’t have to worry too much about supplementary fitness training. So look around; you might decide that you’ve always wanted to play squash, or go scuba diving, or windsurfing, or climbing — all are now possible because you are fit.
THE DESK DRIVER’S PROGRAMME
IF YOU REALLY can’t spare more than half an hour a day, or you haven’t tried to take exercise since you hung up your short trousers for the last time, then this is the programme for you. The aim is to get you taking 20 minutes of exercise every day but imposing the minimum of physical strain. When you have completed the Desk Driver’s programme, you’ll be ready to graduate to the next one, the Semi-Pro.
Jogging is gentle running at a pace that you feel comfortable with. When you first start, don’t even think about going for longer than 20 minutes and try to find a circuit of about 22 miles (3-4 km) that starts and finishes at your home so you will always be within easy walking distance. If you have to stop and walk, don’t worry — it happens to all of us!
The Home Workout
You don’t need any special gear for them and you can do them all in your living-room. Start off with the instructions in the following list, but as you get fitter you should be able to perform more repetitions in each set.
3 minutes. 20 reps then I minute rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 25 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest (use a sofa to support your hands and a stool or chair to support your feet). 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 25 reps then stretch off to cool down. 1 Warm-Up 2 Press-Ups 3 Crunches 4 Press-Ups S Leg Raises 6 Press-Ups 7 V-Crunches 8 Press-Ups 9 Hyperextensions 10 Tricep Dips 11 Crossover Crunches 12 Tricep Dips 13 Leg Raises
THE SEMI—PRO PROGRAMME IS designed for the person who is keen to attain a reasonable level of fitness but doesn’t have the time available to follow the full MMA Fit programme. It is a progressive programme which builds up over four weeks to a level at which you will be increasing your cardiovascular fitness and toning your muscles without having to exercise for more than 30 minutes each day (except on sport days). The completion of this programme will set you up nicely for the start of the full MMA Fit programme.
Your best bet with swimming is to start off by simply swimming lengths of the pool at a pace that you feel comfortable with, using either the breast-stroke or front crawl. As your fitness increases, consider using the swimming workouts. Don’t spend too long at the end of the pool ‘resting’ after each length!
After four weeks of the Semi-Pro programme, you will be fit enough to make a good showing in most sports. In fact, if you remember to warm up properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a balls-out effort every time you play. If you play sport for a team, consider attending a mid-week training session and substitute that for one of the workouts in the programme.
Friday is marked as the day off to give you a chance to wind down at the end of the week and relax. If there is a more convenient day to take off, then simply shunt the programme around to accommodate it.
THE MMA Fit PROGRAMME oo
What to Expect
The MMA Fit programme is a 6-week training course for those who are seriously committed to getting fit. It is progressive and begins reasonably gently, so you can choose either to start from scratch or do the Desk Driver’s and Semi-Pro programmes first to get used to taking exercise. Make no mistake, the MMA Fit programme requires a lot of effort, commitment and self-discipline but the benefits for those who stick with it will be enormous. Sports you can play to vary the routine include soccer, rugby, tennis and squash.
The First Month
It is going to take you a while to accustom yourself to the exercise and it may hurt a little, but you know it’s worth it. Your first month on the MMA Fit programme is an introduction to regular physical training, but by the end of the second week you will really notice the difference. The most important thing is to take the exercises gently — an ‘easy run’ means just that. If you are training with a partner, make sure that he or she is either of the same standard as you or doesn’t mind taking it easy until you catch up.
The Second Month
By now the difference in your fitness will be visible to everyone. You will be leaner, and your body will be becoming much more ‘defined’ as you build up muscles in the pool and the gym. The second month sees the start of speed training for your legs, and by the end of the eighth week your running times will have increased enough for you to start looking for longer routes for your runs (you should be running between zo and 25 miles, or 32-4o km, a week by now). The chances are that you will also be needing more sleep — don’t fight this, as you need it to recover from the increased workload. You should also be careful to ensure that you are drinking enough water to avoid dehydration (your urine should be clear — the darker it gets, the more dehydrated you are).
At the start of the third month, we begin to try out two training sessions a day. Take this very easy at first because it may turn out to be too much for you at this stage — and, if possible, spread the exercises so that you do one set in the morning and one in the evening. By now you should be running 25-30 miles (40-48 km) per week.
The fourth month of the MMA Fit programme is designed to bring you to a plateau of all-round fitness which combines a high level of cardio-vascular endurance with a sensible degree of upper-body strength. All of the ‘two exercise’ days should be treated with a certain amount of caution — there will certainly be times when you don’t feel up to a second workout and it may be sensible to back off and leave the second exercise out altogether.