The secret revealed: what's the best exercise in the world? You might be surprised by the answer
The secret is revealed: what’s the single best exercise ever? I think my answer will shock and surprise you...
I have gotten the question in different ways, from different people, with different levels of inquiry over the years. Those of you who knew me before I discovered my love of fitness, training and nutrition know that I also didn’t previously have great exercise and eating habits, and that I weighed over 425 pounds at one point, and have struggled with my weight my whole life.
It hasn’t been easy. None of it has. But getting in shape and discovering that not only could daily (yes; daily. That’s all seven of the days in a week) rigorous exercise not only made me feel good, it helped every other aspect of my life, from managing my relationships, to staving off the mental ravages of seasonal affectivity disorder to helping my sleep patterns and my self-esteem. In short, focusing on my physical health also helped my mental health in the long run.
I know that’s a long preamble to the teasing headline from above, but here’s where my point eventually starts to come around.
One client at a bootcamp class asked me how I managed to do push-ups so easily and manage to maintain musculature and even add lean mass into my late 30s and early 40s.
The short answer? Lift weights seven days a week for several years consecutively.
Another prodded ever so gently one day and asked me how to get to this goal, and that goal – all different goals, mind you, with one end in mind: getting in shape. How do you get into shape, and stay in shape in a world that now seems designed to make us sedentary and unhealthy.
In short, what’s the best exercise on the planet, and how many times should I do it to get to my goal?
The answer is…mindset.
Yes, mindset. Approaching weight training, or exercise, or a class, or going for a run, or whatever else you might do in terms of being active with the mindset that consistency is really the only thing that matters. Obviously, working with a personal trainer or a coach can increase accountability and motivation, as well as help you build your knowledge base to help in avoiding injuries.
So, here’s the answer. As a trainer, it’s my dream and ultimate goal that everyone in the world, or to be more specific, everyone in my world, embrace and enjoy daily rigorous exercise. Not only because I love it and selfishly want my friends and loved ones to join me as we exercise together, but because I want them to know the great feelings I now enjoy as it pertains to my body image and my mental health. The dissipation of stress from modern parenting and entrepreneurship is also a main benefit.
A friend told me the other day that she would like to exercise more than the once a week she already does but that because of time constraints and other realities of modern life, she is unable to find the extra time to do more. I told her that her mindset was already excellent because she was looking for more and at the same time, she was doing what she could, when she could.
That’s the answer. The best exercise in the world is the one you will do, and do consistently in your lifetime. If you love playing squash, play squash. If you love weight training, push all the iron you can. If you love riding your bike, like my father, move to New Zealand so you can ride your bike every day of the year (but you can do that in North America, too). If you love aerobics and spin classes, fill your boots. If you love ultramarathoning, I have a referral for a psychologist if you like.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
The reality is that no matter what you exercise you do, it’s doing it regularly that matters. Going to the gym once and sitting around for two weeks telling your friends ‘I started going to the gym again,’ is not a good approach.
90 per cent of the challenge is just driving or getting to the gym or edifice. After that, you’ll find the endorphin production associated with an elevated heart rate and exertion will take over and you’ll start to feel great.
The simple math equation for hitting fitness goals is very, very simple. It’s 52 x 3, or 52 x 4. Could even be x 6 or x 7.
Fifty-two weeks. Three to seven times a week. That’s how you get where you get where you want to go. Trainers, coaches and nutritionists are here to help you on that journey, but you’re at the wheel.
The only shortcut to your ultimate destination is stopping at the gym consistently along the way