Fill Your Toolbox

As you probably have noticed, most of the time here at TotalThriver, we typically feature an article each week to share ideas or concepts about how you can thrive in your fitness, finances, or faith.  I hope these articles encourage you to think and reflect on the various issues and take action based on new knowledge or understanding.  However, most of the how is usually left to you.  Today, we’ll try to remedy this by getting a bit further into the details!


Find the Perfect Fit for You

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to look over the ThriveFit page previously, let me encourage you to go there now and check out the first five workouts of our recommended program.  Click the link above or the ThriveFit tab at the top of the homepage.  All workouts are conveniently split into three difficulty levels, so no matter your current fitness level, we have the perfect fit for you!

Hot Off the Press

For those that have seen the ThriveFit program in months past, we have a great new addition for you:  demonstrations and descriptions of some of the most important movements in the ThriveFit program.  Check out the Exercise Demos page here, and spend a few minutes learning a new movement–I promise each one will challenge you in a useful and different way, helping you to become a more rounded athlete and person.

One Movement to Improve Your Entire Body

In particular, today I’d like to highlight a brand new addition to the exercise demo page:  the snatch.  This powerful and complex movement can unlock new levels of fitness and strength for you, and though it’s difficult to master, the reward is great.  Incidentally, the video used in this demonstration was recorded just a few days ago, and came due to my competing in the 2013 CrossFit Open.  If you’d like to see the entire workout in context, feel free to check out my athlete profile page or watch my complete video here.

Why a Watch?

When you visit the ThriveFit page, you may notice that an unusual piece of equipment is required for nearly all of the workouts recommended there:  a stopwatch.  Unlike many workouts that you’ll see people doing in your local gym, our regimen involves completing a certain number of repetitions during a discrete period of time.  Is there a good reason for working out this way?  What are the advantages and benefits?  In today’s article, we’ll answer these questions and unpack how this strategy can help you reach your fitness and physique goals!

C&M Posing!

Better Challenge, Better Results

Most ThriveFit workouts take a form like the following:  with a continuously running stopwatch, complete three rounds of:  15 pushups, 20 lunges, 30 jump rope jumps.  Your goal is to complete all the reps in as little time as possible.  One of the beauties of this method is that whether you’re very fit or a complete beginner, this workout can challenge you.  The fitter you are, the lower your time will be, but as long as you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, you’ll be worn out by the last rep.  And if you’re super fit, you can always adjust the workout up by adding more rounds.

Intensity Through Competition

A second benefit of keeping track of the time it takes you to complete a workout is that it promotes competition.  This competition could be between (1) you and a friend, or (2) you and yourself.

In previous articles, we’ve explored the many ways that having a training partner helps push you to greater heights and keeps you motivated and accountable.  By committing to a program like ThriveFit with a friend, you have the added benefit of being able to compete for the fastest time.  If you and your friend have a fitness disparity, you can even adjust the workouts up or down for one of the partners to cause a close finish every time.  For example, perhaps the workout for the day is: as many rounds in possible of: 8 clean and jerks 115#, 15 pushups.  If one training partner is a little stronger, he may use 135# while his partner stays with the recommended 115#.

A Worthy Competitor

Even if you aren’t able to find a workout partner right away, timing your workouts allows you to compete with yourself.  As you progress through the ThriveFit workout plan, keep track of your scores and times in a notebook or a spreadsheet.  Them, make sure to go through the list from time to time and recomplete workouts that you’ve done previously.  You’ll have your old time in mind while you’re doing the workout, which will push you to move faster and leave your old records in the dust!

Not only do your previous times help you push yourself harder and faster, but you’ll also have a clear basis for tracking your progress.  As your times go down and your loads go up, you’ll feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Depending on your fitness goals, you may be tracking things like your weight and body fat percentage already, but an even more test of how you’re doing is to track how long it takes you to do 3 rounds of: 15 snatches 95#, 15 pull-ups!

Improve In Multiple Ways

And finally, keeping time while you complete an entire workout turns a strength-only scheme of exercises into a strength, endurance, and stamina challenge.  Most people’s workout program involves doing 10 reps of bench press, stand around for 5 minutes, 10 more reps, stand around more, 10 reps, etc.  Not only are they wasting lots of time getting through a workout, but that rest between sets allows them to catch their breath each time.  Conversely, the ThriveFit workouts keep your body moving constantly, resulting in a challenge to your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular strength and stamina.  Incidentally, this is a good reason to keep your rest periods short in the cases where you can’t complete a full ThriveFit workout without stopping.  Keep your rest periods to just a few seconds if you must take them, and get back in and knock out a few more reps.  Having shorter, more frequent rests will give you a shorter time and a better challenge than taking longer, less-frequent rests.

Our Network is for You

Today we’ve shown just a few of the many benefits associated with working out with a timer.  By timing the entire workout, you promote competition between yourself and others (or at least yourself and yourself), you have a means of tracking your progress, and you get to challenge your body more completely, which ultimately leads you to reaching your fitness goals more effectively.  Be sure to let us know how you’re doing along the way by sharing comments on the ThriveFit workout pages!  Happy training!

Your Body Isn’t Yours

Most of the time, when people hear the word stewardship, they think they’re about to hear a sermon about how the pastor wants them to give more money to the church.  If this is your understanding of this term, prepare to hit the reset button.  Stewardship means to manage well something that’s in our possession, but doesn’t really belong to us.

Stay at My Place!

Think of a time where a friend has let you borrow his car, or spend a weekend at his lakehouse.  How did you treat his stuff?  If you’re a good friend, you took great care to use your friend’s property well, avoided damaging it, and cleaned up when you were finished.

Bakers lake

In much the same way, it is important that we recognize that we are not truly owners of our life, money, or even the body we have.  These and all things are gifts from our Heavenly Father, to be used for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Need Motivation?

Understanding the concept of stewardship in regard to our physical body has a radical effect on one’s desire to begin and maintain a fitness regimen.  Instead of sitting on the couch thinking, “which sounds more fun, an intense 20 minute workout or watching another episode of Lost?  Hmm…  I think I’ll just forget the workout today,” a person who understands stewardship feels compelled to care for his body through proper exercise.  Just as you make time to change the oil in your car to avoid engine seizure, you are inherently motivated to maintain your physical body to honor and serve the One who entrusted it to you.

Start Today

Make fitness a priority in your life today by clicking the ThriveFit tab above.  You’ll find recommended workouts for all fitness levels and many other resources to assist you in your fitness journey.  Here’s to a fitter and healthier 2013!!

The Key to Getting Fit

Merry Christmas to all you TotalThrivers out there!  I’m sure that like me, many of you ate enough food in the past few days to feed a small army!  Some people feel bad after such a spree of overeating, leading them to seek out resources like our ThriveFit page to shed a few pounds and get back into shape.  It’s a good idea to work toward better health, but often these resolutions to “do better” fade after a few weeks or months, and instead of looking and feeling better, the person will feel even more like a failure for their lack of follow-through.  If you have the desire to live healthier, take advantage of the fire you have now by applying the most significant key to success in fitness or any other area of life:  adopting new habits.


Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Our natural inclination after a week-long (or month-long) spree of overeating and inactivity is to overcorrect.  We think that to even out the 1000 calorie dinner yesterday, we should break our year-long fast of jogging by running 5 miles.  We take the high enthusiasm to get fit and convert it into a short burst of high activity.  But we tend to neglect a few important steps.

The Big Challenge:  Change

First, we fail to recognize that adopting a fitness routine involves one of the most difficult things there is:  changing a person’s habits.  This is particularly difficult to do when the person who needs changing is you!  One big mistake at this point is that we try to accomplish this feat alone.  Accountability is absolutely essential to get into and stay with the routine of working out regularly, week after week.  Find a friend who is passionate about fitness.  Preferably, this person already has the habit of keeping fit, but another newbie is ok too if they’re really serious about getting in shape.  Decide how often and for what duration you will both commit to working out, and identify the specific times you’ll workout each week and how you’ll communicate your plans and results.

Write it Down

This leads right into the second necessary step for getting and staying fit:  setting goals and writing them down.   Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.  For example, you’d ideally want to sit down with your ThriveFit partner and lay out something like the following:

We’re committing to working out 4 times per week for 30 minutes.  We’ll meet on Mondays at 7:00 pm at John’s house, Wednesdays at 7:00 am at Peter’s house, and on Thursdays we’ll meet over lunch for a run or bodyweight-only type workout.  Each Friday afternoon, we’ll email each other to figure out a workout to be done Saturday (each on our own) and we’ll send text messages to each other on Saturday to verify when the workout is complete and to share scores.

Between now and January 1, John’s goal is to reduce his one-mile run time below 7:00 minutes and lose 10 pounds.  During the same period, Peter’s goal is to increase his 5-rep maximum of deadlifts above 225 pounds and to trim 3 inches from his waist.

Instant Feedback

Notice how this is a specific plan with set dates and times and clear markers to shoot at.  The reason this is such an important step is that it gives you a standard to measure yourself against for immediate feedback should you start to falter.  Without this plan, you’ll tend to let your fitness regimen slip little by little as the days go by, until you are left back where you started, and with a vague sense of dissatisfaction with yourself.  With clear goals and a specific schedule to reach them, you’ll know immediately when you’re getting off course.  In addition to that, the goal or dream that you’ve identified will help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like working out.

Let Us Help!

Remember, changing habits is hard, and our aim is to create good long-term habits for a fit life.  Don’t kill yourself on the first day such that you can’t move tomorrow.  Keep your focus on identifying and executing healthy and sustainable habits.  To support the new demands on your body, you will also do well to consider your diet and supplement choices.  Our ThriveMart store has a wide array of meal bars and shakes, sport drinks, and plant-based vitamins and supplements to promote your health, recovery, and weight-loss as you take the journey to a healthy life.  Just comment on our facebook page or send us a message and we’ll help you identify the right product for you.

And as always, be sure to check back with us each week for motivation and encouragement along the way—we’re here to help you thrive!

Why Not Machines?

Here at TotalThriver, we’re always emphasizing bodyweight exercises and barbell lifts.  Why don’t we ever suggest using those machines that fill the typical “fitness center?”  In today’s post, we’ll take a look at where these recommendations come from.

What Are You Aiming At?

Why did you first decide to adopt a fitness regimen?  To look better? To be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting winded?  Or perhaps to improve your performance in your favorite sport?  The great thing about bodyweight workouts and free weight workouts is that they are ideal for every one of these things.  The fundamental reason for this is that when you lift your bodyweight or pick up a barbell with correct form, you’re using your body as a complete system, with each muscle automatically being used in proportion to how your body was designed to function.

Avoid Huge Biceps and Tiny Calves

Not surprisingly, by training your body in this way, you’ll naturally develop a proportional look.  Unlike in bodybuilding, where you isolate muscles using machines and pulleys, a bodyweight and free weight regimen involves compound lifts.  For example, to take a barbell from the ground to your chest, then up over your head, you must use your calves, hamstrings, quads, abs, back, chest and shoulders.  By doing this lift within a circuit, as recommended in the ThriveFit program, you’ll also challenge your heart and lungs.  Over time, this will build you into a versatile and proportional athlete, capable of physical feats you won’t believe.

Move Your Friend’s Piano

In addition to working large muscle groups proportionally, bodyweight and free weight lifting strengthens all the small stabilizers throughout your body.  For example, in the “press,” you take a barbell in the standing position, and push it up over your head.  This movement not only strengthens the entire shoulder and upper pectoral muscles, but in order to control and balance the weight throughout the lift, your entire core needs to be engaged, along with the traps and small muscles in the neck and upper back.  Over time, this will strengthen your entire body as a system, not only making you capable of moving more weight easier, but helping you avoid injury as well.

Getting Cut

The final benefit we’ll discuss today relates to fat reduction.  One common reason for exercising is to trim down and get a leaner look.  A regimen like ThriveFit is ideal for fat burning, because compound lifts like clean and jerks or pull-ups recruit lots of energy from the large muscle groups involved.  Not only does this burn large amounts of calories during the workout, but as your body recovers post-workout, it will consume a great deal of energy rebuilding your muscles after the workout.  And with stronger muscles, your body will need more calories in the days and weeks to come simply to operate your now-stronger muscles.  Keep the same diet (don’t increase calorie intake) and you’ll quickly develop a significant calorie deficit, leading to a lower body fat percentage and a great lean look.

Start Today!

Of course, there are a great many more benefits to a high-intensity bodyweight and barbell training regimen than the few I’ve outlined today, but these will give you a good idea of some of the great benefits available to you through ThriveFit.  As with nearly everything we suggest around here, you can give this a try for yourself and take note of what happens!  I’m confident that if you dive in and stick with the program, you’ll quickly find the truth of these claims.  Enjoy your healthier and fitter life!  🙂

Getting Fit and Loving It!

The following article is a guest post from Steven McClain, a member of the TotalThriver community.  Steven recently began following the ThriveFit workout program and describes his experience and excitement for this new fitness regimen.

For the last several years I have been doing workout regimens that didn’t do much besides maintain strength or maybe even lose it gradually. I did what the typical gym rat would do which consisted of bench, dips, tricep extensions, flys, curls, rows, leg curls, leg press, and squats with terrible form.  I’ve always tried to maintain a proper diet with lots of fruits, veggies, good quality fats, and proteins. I thought that I should be feeling awesome from this great lifestyle but one week ago I tried something very different. Chris took me on as his ThriveFit apprentice, and with the aid of some Double X vitamin supplements a new journey began.

Trial by Fire

It all started Thursday with a Metcon consisting of 4 rounds of 5 deadlifts, 10 pullups, 15 pushups as fast as possible. The next workout was called death by squats (one squat in minute one, two squats in minute two, and so on until failure) and here I learned the proper form for squats which engages your entire leg, lower back, and parts of the upper body. Lucky for me Chris was there in the 13thminute to pick the bar up after I dropped it and have me do another rep before failing a second time. The weekend offered some rest to the weary legs that felt like they had been ripped to shreds and stairs had become their arch nemesis.

Powering Through

On Monday the pain of soreness was still there for sure but that didn’t stop the 3 rounds of 8 pullups (kipping), 4 handstand pushups, 16 pushups, and a quarter mile run all in about 11.5 minutes. So far all the workouts had been Metcons which challenged both my cardio and muscular strength. So on Tuesday we did a 4 rep max of cleans (an Olympic lift), starting from low weight and adding on 10 pounds at a time for about 6 rounds. Although I was not on the verge of cardio death the workout was great and provided for some great technique work and its fair share of muscle soreness.

 The Payoff

Most workouts I give a month or more before giving any assessment but after only a week I can’t deny the huge difference I’m feelingand seeing. I went from feeling like a normal human being a week ago to some sort of steel reinforced powerhouse today. Here I sit in my chair with good posture, no tired feeling after lunch, and with the energy to run at least a 5k just waiting to be used. While my shoulders are and legs may be a little stiff from the cleans there is no doubt that the power and energy increase is there along with mental alertness and just feeling great overall. What’s the big secret to this euphoric state? Compound crossfit lifting that challenges both the cardio and large muscle groupings combined with the Double X would be my scientific hypothesis (since I am a chemist J) because all other conditions in life have remained normal during that week. Are there any side effects to all this? I’ve experienced an increased metabolism so I’ve had to eat more delicious food while likely lowering my body fat and increasing lean muscle mass as the weeks continue.

Thanks for all the help and great advice Chris! I haven’t felt this good since being a senior on the high school wrestling team.


Getting There

How can we get from where we are today to the places in life where we want to be?  How can we become the people that we want to be—that God made us to be?  In a word, incrementally!

Fitter by the Day

One of the clearest examples I know of this principle is manifested in physical fitness.  No one has ever turned from an overweight couch potato overnight.  But many people have changed from a person 30 pounds overweight to a person 25 pounds overweight with an improved cardiovascular system.  The activities, attitudes, and habits that brought the 5-pound transformation are the very ones that bring the 8-pound transformation the next month, and eventually result in a healthy, fit person with great eating habits.

Follow a Winner

The key in this area, as well as many other areas where this principle applies, is to find people who are where you want to be.  That means people who are 8 steps ahead of you and people who are 2 steps ahead of you.  By recognizing that they have the character, faith, or habit you want, you can then begin to model the life they live.  You can see the choices they make, the council they follow, and the way they press on.  As you watch them thrive and grow, you’ll be inspired to do the things it takes to take yourself to the next level.

One word of caution—do not be overwhelmed when you meet those people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you.  If you go the gym and see someone snatching twice what you’re capable of, it can be discouraging to see that you have so far to go.  Instead of allowing this discouragement to reign, let yourself see this person as having what you want long-term, and be happy for them in their success.  Do not try to reach their place overnight, rather, identify your next level.  What are the people doing who are just in front of you doing that you’re not?  What are they reading or listening to that you’re not?  How do they cultivate optimism and confidence in their lives?

Identify, Model, Own, Repeat

By recognizing the actions and attitudes you need to reach that next level, you’re most of the way there.  As you begin to incorporate these practices into your life and being, you move that much closer to the place you’d like to be.  And now that you’ve done it once, you need only take another step to reach an even higher level.  Be intentional about those whom you choose to spend time around—they must be thriving in at least a few areas to a greater degree than you are, so that you can see what it takes and model their behavior.  Not only that, but they must be growing themselves so that you can continue to learn from them.  As we all walk this road together, we fulfill God’s design as expressed in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”


No Breaks!

One of the most important aspects of any successful training regimen (or perhaps any pursuit in life) is consistency. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of sticking with your workouts and never letting too much time pass between training sessions.

Here Comes an Excuse

As you may have read in previous posts, I had the joy of traveling to Indiahoma, Oklahoma last week to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the children, youth, and adults in the community. We had an awesome time (more to come on that soon) and forged many wonderful relationships. However, there was one thing we didn’t do while there—workouts!

While I was able to stay pretty active moving rubble from a burned-down building, swimming at the lake, and even a bit of free climbing, I didn’t lift any heavy weights. And, though I intended to go on a few runs and do some bodyweight exercises, I never managed to make it happen.

The Price That Must Be Paid

Consequently, I was in for a rough day back to the gym today. My last full workout was 6 days ago, and that’s much too long to go between workouts. My metcon of heavy squats, dips, dumbbell jerks and pull-ups started off well, but I ran out of steam about 3 minutes in and my whole body began to feel like Jello.

I’m afraid that there’s no good way to get around the rough spot that I found myself in today, should you skip too many workouts. The only way to get past it is to go right through. So, that’s exactly what I did, pushing my Jello-feeling body through the next 15 minutes of punishment. By the end, I was totally wiped, and struggled to catch my breath for about five minutes.

The Reward on the Other Side

However, once I did catch my breath, I began feeling much better, even better that I had felt all day. I spent the next 10-15 minutes stretching my hips and calves, which had grown rather tight and immobile in the two 10-hour bus rides that we’d taken last week. All in all, I felt great by the end, but there were some rough moments in there for sure.

Learn from Mistakes

As you can probably tell, I’ve been through this a time or two in the past, and have learned to avoid this situation as much as possible. Since I powered through today, I’ll likely be back in a good groove tomorrow or the next day. Getting back in a good rhythm requires paying a high price, though, as I experienced today, so I’ll be working to avoid another slip in the future.

Be Good to Your Body

One or two days of resting and stretching can be a great way to rejuvenate your body and recover from a tough workout. But three days can be dangerous and four days is trouble. If you make my mistake and wait six days between, you’re in for a rough day back, so don’t let it happen to you! Make workouts your habit four to five days a week, and even if it’s just a few rounds of sprints and push-ups, your body will thank you for avoiding the punishment of a “first day back!”

What Are You Training For?

Here at TotalThriver, we love to discuss the importance of a challenging fitness regimen, encouraging you to make physical training a priority and reap the many benefits that come with it.  But, there are different ideas of what ideal fitness looks like.  Today, we’ll introduce three measures (or perspectives) of fitness in order to help you identify what type of training fits you best.  By knowing what you want to achieve in the realm of fitness, you’ll be a good way along in reaching your ideal!

You’ll Go Far

The first fitness type we’ll examine is cardiovascular endurance.  This may be your focus if your goal is to have a thin body with lean muscle that is capable of running long distances.  Picture your favorite marathon or iron man competitor, and this will give you an idea of what you’re aiming at.  Personally, when I think of cardiovascular endurance, I think of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France.  He doesn’t’ have a large muscular stature, but he can pedal that bike seemingly endlessly!

Training the cardiovascular system involves long periods of a relatively easy movement, repeated over and over.  Endurence trainers will often spend hours and hours training every day, always staying at a “slow burn.”.  By definition, their effort in training will never be at absolute maximum, because this would be unsustainable.  Rather, an endurance athlete may spend 2.5 hours in a single training session at a consistent 60% effort.

What you Get

This type of fitness regimen gives the athlete a well-developed set of lungs, and muscles that can sustain hours and hours of the repetitive motion that is being trained.  Common applications of this type of fitness include biking, running, swimming, or rowing.  If you focus on this training type, you’ll soon find that many everyday activities which used to make you huff and puff (e.g. climbing three flights of stairs) can now be accomplished with ease.  You may also enjoy the slimmer-looking you that results from long training sessions which burn lots of calories and fat.

Lift a Bus

The second fitness type is strength training or training for raw power.  This kind of training focuses on lifting heavy objects, usually for a very short period of time.  In contrast with a marathon runner training cardiovascular fitness, a strength training individual may push himself to maximal effort during a set of squats that lasts less than 30 seconds.  Then, he’ll rest for a few minutes before attempting another set.

When thinking of strength training, my quintessential example has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Every muscle group on this man is full, developed, and in proportion to all the others.  He can (or at least could, in his day) lift very heavy barbells and perform dazzling feats of strength.  His training involved hours and hours at the gym, pushing with maximum effort, followed by a short rest, repeated over and over for many years to reach his ideal form.

Good to Have Around

You may want to focus on this type of training if you desire to have a strong and healthy “beach body,” look or if it’s important to you to have the capability of lifting heavy things.  Important exercises to include in your program for this type include deadlifts, squats, snatches, and clean and jerks.  These movements should be done in heavy sets at low reps—5 sets of 5 reps or 7 sets of 2 reps, for example, resting a minute or two between sets.  Those who make strength training a focus are great to have around anytime you need to move a piano or large dresser!

Fast and Strong

The third type of fitness we’ll examine today is called metabolic conditioning. In some ways, this type can be thought of as a cross between the first two.  It involves challenging movements like pullups, dips, snatches, and deadlifts, but also incorporates continuous movement and “easy” high-rep movements like burpees, box jumps, and running.  It will generally require significantly less training time than the other two, because the highest possible intensity is maintained for a continuous span of 5-20 minutes.  This is in contrast with the low-intensity “slow burn” of endurance training and the alternating periods of maximum effort followed by a rest period, which make up a strength training program.

Don’t Be Fooled

A metabolic conditioning workout (or metcon, as it’s lovingly called by those who train this way) involves multiple sets of various movements, done in rapid succession while the entire workout is timed.  For example, one might do 5 sets of the following rep scheme:  15 pushups, 10 pullups, 5 box jumps.  Before you make a common mistake that I’m often guilty of, don’t say, “that sounds easy!”   Metcons can be very deceiving!  This one in particular results in a grand total of 75 pushups, 50 pullups, and 25 box jumps, and might take around 4-5 minutes for a relatively fit individual. 

This type of training focus results in a strong and solid body, with a very developed set of lungs.  A good example of a “metcon body” might be Bruce Lee.  He didn’t look big or muscle-bound, but he was a very strong and fast guy, and could kick and jump all around the room with plenty of energy to spare.  While a person who trains this way may not be able to hang with an endurance trainer for a full marathon, he’d likely keep pace just fine for the first several miles.  Similarly, a metcon trainer will not be able to move as much heavy weight as a strength trainer, but he’ll be able to continue churning out reps while the strength trainer has to stop to rest and catch his breath.

When You Think You’re Spent…

One of the tricks of making it through a tough metcon is to push yourself to the limit, then take very short breaks intermittently (by very short, I mean 2-3 seconds maximum).  There will be moments where you think you can’t possibly make it, but keep pushing and you’ll soon find that you’re fitter than you think!

Customize Your Plan

Hopefully you now have a good understanding of three types of fitness focus:  endurance training, strength training, and metcon training.  Each has distinct benefits, and in truth, any good program should incorporate all three types of training.  But, it is a valuable undertaking for you to learn these different perspectives and think about which one most appeals to you.  Do you want to be lean and trim, capable of extended periods of low-intensity movement?  Or do you want to have massive power and full, developed muscles?  Or, do you prefer to run shorter distances yet have the capability to move heavy weights too?  Be sure that your program pulls from each—a run one day, heavy squats another, and a good metcon another.  But spend a majority of days training in your preferred style.  Not only will that take you where you want to go, but you’ll enjoy it more along the way too!

As always, check out the ThriveFit page for several sample workouts to get you started, and be sure to comment on that page or this one to let us know how you’re doing!

Keys to an Effective Fitness Regimen

We’ve spent a good deal of time lately discussing the many benefits of a good fitness regimen.  Maybe some of these ideas have made you interested in fitness, and you’re ready to dive in.  But before you embark on a new regimen, it’s important to have a good gameplan as well as some strong support.  Without these, your fitness habit will struggle to pass the 3-week mark, and you’ll have lost the strong motivation which could have been used to launch you to a new level of success.

The following principles are vital to a sucessful fitness regimen.


Just like with diet, it is absolutely essential that your fitness habits be permanent.  Your program can certainly change as you move through life’s different stages, but thinking of a fitness regimen as something that you’ll do for a few months, then go “back to normal” will not only lead you to disappointment and frustration, but can be hard on your body too.  Your body is made to move, lift, and run.  Consider exercise like food or worship of God–you need it perpetually to live life as it was meant to be lived.


While it may well be possible to stick with a fitness program in isolation, I’ve not yet met someone who’s done well that way.  Even Rocky had Mick!  Give yourself the boost of a training partner.  Ideally, this person can work out right beside you in the same gym, but even a friend who’s far away can be a good training partner if you can push each other to get out there on the tough days when you don’t feel like it.  I also enjoy competing with friends who are of a similiar fitness level as myself, so we both always know that the other person is probably nipping right on our heels.  As the Good Book says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)


Though some fitness programs can be useful without intensity, I find that most people who are truly successful in fitness incorporate high intensity training into their regimen.  And practically speaking, most of us simply to not have the time luxury to spend hours in the gym every day.  The good news is that you can achieve a remarkable level of fitness in 20 minutes per day, 5 days a week, if you will work at high intensity.  Do that calculation, and yes, I’ll bet that’s a good bit less than the number of hours of TV you watch each week…


This principle was a component that I sorely missed in my early years of fitness training.  Like many others have done, I spent way too much time on 3 sets of 10 bench presses, lat pull downs, and machine shoulder raises.  While these movements aren’t bad, they’re not particularly useful in real life.

When I began my current program, however, I found a whole new world with barbell lifing and other functional movements.  For example, the snatch, a complex barbell lift, recruits large muscle groups and requires a great deal of energy, while simultaneously honing timing and balance skills.  Not only this, but the strength built this way seamlessly travels into real life, whether it’s carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs or hoisting a child up to see a parade.

Functional movements like pullups, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and lunges work big muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.  Your body reacts to this by building more muscle.  The new muscle requires your body to expend more energy all day long to keep everything running.  Thus, in addition to the stronger muscles that you’ll have, you’ll also have a larger calorie gap (the difference between the calories you consume and the calories you require).  If you keep your diet under control, your body has no choice but to recruit energy from fat cells–resulting in a thinner, stronger, and happier you!

More to come

Much more could be said on this topic, but these ideas will get you started on a rewarding fitness regimen.  Check out the ThriveFit page for a few sample workouts to get you going, and let us know how you’re doing–we’re here to help you thrive!