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Thread: Ending the bickering by defining fitness....what's your definition? page

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    TheyCallMeLazarus's Avatar
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    Ending the bickering by defining fitness....what's your definition?

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    Hello all,

    I am a big fitness reader online. I would say I spend about half my time online reading some form of nutrition or fitness info, and MDA is one of my favorites. In reading a few articles I saw yesterday as well as a few forum posts here, I was again troubled by something and would like others' input into this....so, what do you get if you look in a lot of different sources of this kind of info?

    Well, trash talk. Lots and lots of trash talk. Everyone else thinks Group #A, B, and C are a bunch of quacks wasting their time. Some articles on reputable sites are just long hatchet jobs of someone else's programming, nothing more....what drives me crazy about this whole argument, repeated on most every site (including this one, by some), is simple.

    What is fitness? What are your goals? For me, any discussion of "my program is better than yours" have to start here....so, I have compiled what I feel the different goals for some programs are.

    Group #1) Fitness is the measure of how far away from decrepitness and lethargy you are.
    ------> In many ways the approach of MDA and PB. Also advocated by a lot of everyday magazines. If this is your goal, you are going to sacrifice the other definitions.
    Advantages = you are a long way from dead. You feel good. You don't so sadistic routines. Well done.
    Disadvantages = you may NOT be the most impressive specimen to look at. You may also not be the strongest or fastest at anything.

    Group #2) Fitness is the summation of how good you look in the mirror and your maxes on "The Big 4".
    ------> This is Leangains, Ultimate Diet 2.0, Starting Strength, many many others.
    Advantages = When done correctly, you will knock the socks off of people at the pool and gym. You can get to 6% BF and be strong as an ox.
    Disadvantages = First, takes a lot of discipline in the kitchen. Also, you are likely to NOT be all that good at anything that requires distance running (Adventure races, tough mudders, a 10k). These programs deplore cardio, and while HIIT can make you not suck at this, there is no replacement for the traditional chronic cardio that builds the base. If you think there is, go sign up for a 10k and watch those high-mileage guys smoke everyone. (yes, they may be hurt, skinny, and weak, but they WILL outrun you, by a lot

    Group #3) Fitness is the average of how fast you are, how strong you are, and what you look like.
    -----> This is Crossift, Insanity, p90, and many other (often sold) derivatives.
    Advantages = You will get very good at doing burpees, push ups, and flipping tires over. You WILL be in much better shape than the average joe, and not collapse in a pile if you sign up for races of any kind.
    Disadvanges = You are not likely to get GREAT results at anything. Your maxes will improve if you are a novice, you will run faster short and longer, but you are not going to be a beast lifter or runner or get all that low BF. I am not talking about elites. I mean normal people...plus you workout 5-6 times a week. If that isn't doing something it would be the real surprise.

    Group #4) Fitness specialists.
    -------> Distance runners, powerlifters, bodybuilders, elite athletes.
    Adv and disadv are obvious....these are the groups that trash talk the most. My only problem is they act as if there is no downside to their specialization. Guys that run fast ultras are NOT going to look all the impressive (usually very thin) OR be deadlifting 500lbs anytime soon. Powerlifters are usually slightly higher in BF, and are often slow and uncoordinated at sports.

    My point is this....there is no trash talking until you define which of the 4 goals you are talking about. I see constant back and forth on here and many other sites, but the two sides are not defining what they want out of their programming. Are there others I am missing? How is this not the starting point for any discussion on fitness? What is your definition?

  2. #2
    Jenry Hennings's Avatar
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    My definition is: 'Fitness is about getting up in the morning ready and able to do what it is you do to the best of your ability every day. Whether your young and running marathons, or older and tending to your garden. And not to forget mental fitness. Mental health is as important as physical.'

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    eKatherine's Avatar
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    Between sedentary unconcern and competitive testosterone-fueled total obsession lies true fitness of the mind and body. Find your sweet spot and stop worrying about what other people say and think.

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    The debate seems to move between ideas about athletic fitness and ones about bodily health, there is an overlap between the two but they aren't the same thing - something that PB illustrates quite well, IMO.

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    Fitness is a spectrum with different aspects.

    I think people tend to migrate to the type of fitness that best suits them. I always sucked at running (slow), but had endurance. But it sucks being at the back of the pack forever. So I migrated to CrossFit which appeals because I tend to get strong quickly, and I kind of like grinding away at a work out. OF COURSE, as humans, we tend to think what is best for us is best for everyone. And what we suck at sucks for everyone that does it.

    I can appreciate all types of fitness and don't mind bitching and debate. The only thing that annoys me are sedentary people who "warn" about fitness activities. If you can't run a lap around the track don't bitch about a marathoner. If the only exercise you get is walking to the fridge, don't say "yoga is for wimps". I love being told "you'll get hurt" by people who get out of breath in a parking lot.

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    As someone who already qualifies for "free checking over 55," fitness for me is to not have too much diminishing of my abilities as I age. I don't want to sprain my lower back getting out of the car. I want to be able to clean my own ceiling fans and lower kitchen cabinets. I want to be able to walk five miles effortlessly. So for me, walking with a moderate amount of stretching and resistance work will do it.

    Do I care what I look like in the mirror? Only to the point that I don't want to walk around town with my underwear on the outside. I'm guessing that's a long way off.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    What I fine simultaneously annoying and hilarious is these perpetually springing up threads about exactly what exercises everyone must do, what HIIT they must perform, what weight they must lift on each of their lifts, how much volume they must do, blah, blah, blah. Everyone has to be a young guy high achiever or YOU SUCK!

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    TheyCallMeLazarus's Avatar
    TheyCallMeLazarus is offline Senior Member
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    @eKatherine....you are starting to get where this post came from A big part is my recent foray into giving a program to a mid-40's relative of mine. I actually AM your stereotypical young male "overachiever" I would presume. I played football in college, have done a few Ironmans a few years ago, am really into fitness, etc...

    A young woman friend of mine, as well as my "older only on her DL" relative (she could beat up 95% of the men I know!), have given me a new challenge though. I was asked by them what I do, and then realized that FOR THEM, what I do does not really apply.

    I myself do a hybrid of Leangains that involves a lot of hiking (I live on 300 acres of VT mountains), and my goals are to be as strong and lean as possible WHILE still being able to do a few tough mudders a season, the occassional 10k, play lots of tennis, and do all of my farm/house work. I have never not been on a diet of some kind, and can change my weight as easily as the temp in my house. It's all just my own circumstance though. When I was asked to give them advice (one with some seriousness due to health problems), you realize that my "Do heavy compounds, fast every day, and hike 8 hours every weekend" weren't really applicable.

    They have totally different bodies, goals, and pitfalls to avoid. For me, most anything that loses muscle mass, even a little, should be avoided. For my female friends, it's not the same catastrophe. For me, it is all about being explosively strong, above all. That is what chops my wood, runs down the tennis ball, does the tough mudders, etc. For others, raw power is negligible compared to endurance or fat loss. For me, being able to run a fast 10k while looking like I play video games for a living the other 99% of the time (to the untrained eye) is not what I'm about (anymore). The goal has to be defined first though.

    This is NOT to say that all approaches are just fine. Some really are massively wasteful for what the pay off is, and I don't think it's wrong to rip on other routines for being dogmatic and inefficient....so long as it is agreed upon what the goal is before the judgements begin.
    Last edited by TheyCallMeLazarus; 06-09-2013 at 06:49 PM.

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    What it means to be fit is a personal decision. It should depend on what your personal goals are. Only you can decide that. For me personally, the most important part of fitness is being strong, so I focus on that. Someone that likes to run long distance, for example, would probably have a different definition of fitness.
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    For me, being able to run a fast 10k while looking like I play video games for a living the other 99% of the time (to the untrained eye) is not what I'm about (anymore). The goal has to be defined first though.
    If you go to a race, you see a ton of different body types. Guys winning the 10K don't look like they play Nintendo. There are a lot of heavy people, but they are early in their fitness journey.

    I agree with ANY activity that gets people off a couch.

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