Regardless of what type of fitness program you are on or seek to start, the most important thing to decide is why are you exercising.
What is your why? There are many ways to exercise and burn calories and just as many whys to do it on a consistent basis.
What is the purpose of your fitness routine? Some people need more than just calisthenics, gym weight machine circuits and cardio machines. Some need competition or a specific goal to train for, such as training for a sports team or a requirement for job-related fitness.
Here is how you can break up the categories of fitness and apply your why to a purpose that fits your lifestyle and goals.
General fitness is often for individuals who are focusing on health and wellness, but many people do a variety of workouts for purely aesthetic reasons. Wanting to look better naked is an important why for many. Wanting to be healthy and live a longer, more productive life is also just as important.
Maybe you are just starting out on a fitness training journey and looking for new ways to move and eat for a variety of reasons (annual medical screenings, body fat reduction, outdoor activities or individual competition).
Whether it is your first time to exercise or you're getting back into the habit after years of no regular activity, we all start somewhere. The most important rule is to find something you like to do that gets you into the gym.
Purposes of General Fitness
General Fitness has many purposes. There are a variety of ways to train, build good habits of exercise and diet, and stay motivated in the general fitness category. Though this brand of fitness may seem non-specific, a better health and wellness goal is about as specific as it gets.
The many options you have to obtain this goal of looking better, feeling better and passing medical screenings are what make this brand of fitness so diverse. The main goal with this category of fitness (as with other categories) is to find an activity that you enjoy doing indoors, outdoors, in the gym or in the yard. Walking, jogging, biking, lifting weights or doing chores in the yard all count as ways to burn calories.
Articles that include the General fitness goals:
- Fitness for Beginners
- Combating Stress with Fitness
- Staying Fit at Any Age
- Meditation and Fitness
- Find your WHY
Qualifying for a sports team as a young high school or college athlete is one of the greatest reasons to train for a student. Each sport has its own specific skills and a limited range of fitness elements that are necessary to excel. Many sports require only endurance in a single activity (running, swimming, biking).
Some require endurance in multiple forms of activity (triathlon). These also require little to no strength and power development, so an equal weakness can be created by specializing in a single activity.
That is not a bad thing if these athletic events are what you do, but one day, when the competition is over, you should diversify your fitness program to include strength, speed, agility, power and upper body muscle stamina. This will be necessary to build a body without weaknesses.
Purposes of Athletics and Athletic Fitness
Being a member of a team, seeking scholarships or competition victory paydays, or just training to compete with others or yourself are among the great purposes of athletics. This high-level competitive focus and development of team skills can be assets as you grow out of athletics and into adulthood or tactical and occupational fitness.
Articles that include Athletics and Competitive Fitness:
- Training for Obstacle Course Races
- Adventure Racing
- The Difference Between Tactical Fitness vs Regular Fitness
- Overload Principles in Athletics and Tactical Fitness
Tactical fitness is a relatively new genre that has been defined by many of my previous writings listed below.
Tactical fitness is also job-related fitness if you are in the military, police, firefighter, EMT or other jobs that require heavy lifting, standing for long periods of time and general manual labor.
The fitness required for you to maintain your abilities is not something you can ignore. If you do, weight gain makes the job more difficult for you and for anyone who has to rescue you in a dangerous situation.
Purposes of Tactical/Occupational Fitness
If your job requires a certain level of strength, endurance and overall fitness, you have a reason to pursue tactical or occupational fitness. Whether you must maintain an ability to do heavy lifting, load bearing or a variety of tactical skills, your workouts should have three goals: health and fitness maintenance, stress mitigation and injury prevention. Being an asset to help yourself and others is the ultimate goal of tactical and occupational fitness.
Articles that include Tactical/Occupational Fitness:
- What Is Tactical Fitness?
- Why Tactical Fitness Is Important
- Tactical Fitness Rules 101
- Active Duty Operator Fitness
Energy IN and Energy OUT (Nutrition)
No matter what category of fitness you prefer or what your skill levels are, the other side of the activity equation (calories burned) is food intake. Outworking a diet is challenging and near impossible unless you have a manual labor job or work out for a living.
Consider what you put into your stomach as energy for the next activity as well as for recovery from the previous activity. Together, you can reach those fitness goals of losing weight, gaining muscle, increasing athletic performance or building job-related fitness to help you avoid injury.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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