Monday, November 15, 2010

The Seasons of Fitness

When I hear the word periodization, I often think of changing up one's work out routine so you don't get in a rut. Phrases like muscle confusion and "shocking the system" come to mind.

It's normal for a body builder and other athletes to cycle their training and to go through various stages in order to peak at just the right time. I think that many average people also go through cycles or season when it comes to their fitness.

As Ecclesiastes says, there is "A time to kill and a time to heal: a time to tear down and a time to build up." I also think there is a time to run and a time to stop running. A time to lift weights and a time rest from lifting weights. A time to eat healthy and a time to indulge. The key is doing these things in moderation and letting those occasions be the exception rather than the rule.

I think going through phases or cycles with one's training is not only wise, but it is natural and mimics nature. Think of the seasons changing, the phases of the moon and tide, and even cycles of the human body. If we were rocks, it would be easy to keep everything the same all the time, but since we are living things, change is inevitable and expected, and I believe it is healthy.

The following fitness pattern is common for most people in the population.

January-Spring- Making resolutions and starting to get in shape (until they quit)
Summer-Picking things up a notch and trying to get in peak beach body condition.
Fall- Maintenance and tapering off.
Winter- Many people become sedentary and rest more during the holidays.

It's very common for people to gain weight over the holidays. For some, this weight never comes off again but just slowly adds up each year. I believe staying in shape year round is important and it's much easier to maintain your conditioning than to start over from scratch, but at the same time, it's not such a bad thing for someone to take things a little easier at times. I'm not saying exercise and healthy living is seasonal, nor am I advocating taking the holidays off and hibernating, but maybe it's not such a bad thing to take it a little easier at the end of the year as long as you avoid de-conditioning and keep your weight gain in check.

This year I've decided to try and fine tune my eating and lose several pounds during the months that are traditionally the hardest ones to eat right during. This requires some discipline, but if you stay close to your ideal weight and fitness levels, then it will be much easier to get back into peak shape once you attempt to do so, as opposed to going through the typical fitness seasons most people experience.

1 comment:

Raymond said...

Good point on cycling it happens in nature and it should be part of fitness too. I think you get better results to overall.
I tried to keep my body-fat low levels through out the year but after some testing a nutritionist warned its not healthy to for the body , it effects the brain (Alzheimer), hormones etc .. I constantly had dry skin, felt the cold and even looked drawn. Now I cycle it …winter I stay around 10% and drop it a bit for summer.