The varied approach to fitness: Why it’s so effective

What does it mean for fitness to be “varied” and why is this the most effective approach to training?

var·ied
ˈverēd/
adjective
incorporating a number of different types or elements

Okay….we get it. Not that difficult to define right? Now, how and why do we apply this to fitness?

Seeing changes in our bodies and in our level of fitness is a series of stimulations and adaptation responses. You lift heavy, your body gets stronger to adapt to the stimulus. You run for distance your cardio capacity goes up to accommodate the need. When we are constantly changing the stimulus then the adaptation response is never muted. This is important. This is how we avoid fitness plateaus.

Very few people need to train with specificity. Powerlifters, Football players, Olympic lifters, and bodybuilders all generally have a singular or sport specific goal. They need a short skill set to excel in their field. These athletes do not make up the majority of the populace and where they excel in one area, they almost certainly fall short in others. Don’t believe me? Challenge a powerlifter to a 3 mile race! (Nicely….they can deadlift 3 of you after all!)

Most people that walk into a box or a gym have a list of goals. They may have those goals prioritized, but they don’t usually have one very specific goal. A typical list might look something like this

1: Lose body fat

2: Get stronger

3: Bring down my cholesterol

4: Get ready for that 10k I told my co-worker I would do

etc….etc…

Each of these is a singular goal, but to check items off the list you need a varied approach. If you concentrate solely on one area then other areas will suffer or be stagnant. This is where the constantly varied approach comes in.

A combination of heavy compound weightlifting movements, endurance training, faster sprint style training, (which can still mean weightlifting) bodyweight/gymnastic movements, and plyometric/explosive movements will cover a broad skill set and help you achieve multiple goals.

Constantly mixing things up is also great from a mental aspect. Getting bored or stuck in a rut is just one more thing that can cause you to get off track. Nobody wants to feel stuck in a rut. Eliminating as many reasons as we can to quit training is a huge key to success. Don’t give yourself excuses. Life throws enough of those at us as it is!

So what’s the point? Mix it up! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Keep working on the things you suck at. Lift, sprint, run distance, swim, box, try yoga. Do it all!!! Keep moving your body in as many ways as you can think of! If you do fall into the category of true specificity then seek out the best path to get you there. Pick the right method and stick with it. Otherwise VARIED is where it’s at!!!!

Brad Preslar