Dan John's Four Principles For A Lifetime Of Fitness Success.

I've heard stories about athletes who enhance their performance by sleeping in high-altitude chambers, drinking kale smoothies every four hours, getting deep tissue massages every day, or training with equipment that looks like NASA's castoffs. 
 
Great for them. But for most of us, just finding 20 minutes a day to exercise is an impressive feat. 

That's why I remind the average guy to keep it simple. You don't need Space Age equipment when a barbell works just fine.  In order to make continuous progress and stay healthy, I've learned over the years that you just need to follow four principles. They're not earth-shattering or original, but they work.

Follow them, and you'll set yourself up for a lifetime of fitness success.


1. Pick the right program.
Your training must match where you want to go. Ask yourself: What are your goals? If your training doesn't align with your desired result, you'll never be happy with the outcome. So if you want to lose fat, choose a program that mixes elements of cardio, hypertrophy, and mobility.

If you want to win a triathlon, practice swimming, biking, and running. If you want to excel in a sport, train on the court and then build strength and mobility in the weight room. It sounds intuitive, but you'd be amazed at how many guys choose programs based on what an actor did for a role in a movie—not what works best for them.

You have to be realistic when selecting a program, too. High-intensity weekend workouts won't make up for five days of commuting and sitting behind a desk. You must find time for short workouts during the week that support your two-day plunges.

On the flip side, you can't expect to maintain two-a-days if you have a full-time job and have a family at home.


2. Take your time getting in shape.
Remember this the next time you don't see change overnight: It takes eight to 12 years to build an Olympian.
The longer you take to get in shape, the longer you will stay in shape.

Your goal: Train little and train often over the long haul. If you do this, you'll decrease your risk of injury and never burn out.

Related: 4 Beauty Benefits Of Exercise.



3. Place importance on the beginning and end of your workout.
You don't always need to have a "perfect" warmup or cool down. Sometimes your name gets called and you have to be ready. However, you should do them in some capacity every workout. Use the time to perform foam rolling and flexibility work.

These elements will keep you healthy and pain-free. Or use the time to think about upcoming competitions or re-evaluate your goals. And if you're training with a group, use the time to catch up and bond. This is the stuff that keeps you coming back every day, every week, every year.


4. Train for volume before intensity.
I believe in intervals for runners, peaking for lifters, and "crunch time" for team sports–but you can't maintain that intensity all the time. Work with lower intensities and build a solid foundation first. Think of your workouts as daily "performances" in the weight room instead of going all out.

You get the work done and gently nudge yourself along, so you get stronger, better, fitter. Then, once or twice a year, feel free to ramp up and go for it. 

By Dan John From Men's Health. Dan John has coached for more than 30 years. He's helped hundreds of athletes pack on double-digit pounds of rock-solid muscle. As an athlete, John broke the American record in the Weight Pentathlon. He is the author of several books, including Intervention.

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