A colleague recently asked me a thought-provoking question regarding the concept of maintenance as it pertains to training. To maintain means to give attention to something to ensure it is in its proper working/functioning order. So, how do we properly train with our goal being to maintain?
To answer the question, let’s establish a few things about our bodies. There is a point (most agree it is somewhere in our mid-20s) where our bodies begin to naturally lose lean muscle mass. Basically, this is simply the aging process at work. Once it starts, this loss of lean muscle mass continues each year until you die. Additionally, this lessening of lean muscle mass affects your metabolism in a negative way (meaning your metabolic rate declines). Metabolism is defined as the speed and ability in which your body burns food as energy. Isn’t aging a wonderful thing?
1. Progressive resistance (weight) training — to build lean muscle, which in turn positively affects metabolism.
2. Cardiovascular training — to increase cardio-respiratory fitness and burn body fat, which positively affects metabolism.
3. Proper nutrition— consisting of low saturated fat protein and quality carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help the body rebuild, maintain a steady supply of energy and avoid storing excess fat.
With this established, I hope you can see how our definition of maintenance as it pertains to fitness must change. To maintain, we can’t just do the same things over and over again; we must steadily build at least as much as we lose. This building process requires steady attention, commitment and dedication.
When your body is already in a state of decline, do not fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have to change-up your fitness routine. Decline will continue to occur. To move beyond it, you must build, push, grow and continue to pursue fitness in a proactive, aggressive and progressive manner. Here’s to increase instead of decline!