A Primer on Fitness

It is important to be fit and healthy.  Good health has wide-ranging benefits over and above the basic advantage of being a healthy person who is full of infectious energy and positive vibes.  It leads to attractiveness, confidence, freedom from needless medical care, ability to enjoy all kinds of food, ability to engage in strenuous but rewarding activities, and so on.

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Fitness has two essential components: Diet and Exercise.

There are millions of books written on eating well, but we will distill their wisdom into five basic principles for you:

  1. Eat slowly and only when you are hungry
  2. Avoid simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white rice, potatoes)
  3. Eat a protein-rich diet (nuts, lentils, dairy, eggs, poultry, meat)
  4. Consume lots of fiber and water.  They don’t add any calories and are great for your overall health and digestion.
  5. Ensure you are getting your vitamins and minerals

Similarly, there are millions of books written on exercise regimens, but there are broadly two classes of exercise: cardiovascular or aerobic training, and strength training.

We recommend a five-day workout: three days of strength training (Mon, Wed, Fri), and two days of light aerobic training (Tue, Thu), and two days of rest (Sat, Sun).  It is fine if instead of doing your cardio on Thursday, you do it on Saturday instead.  Just have 48 hours between two strength training events, all else is secondary.

The simplest cardiovascular exercises are the best: jogging, cycling, climbing stairs, repetitive jumping, etc.  If you go to a gym, take your pick from all the cardio machines: ellipticals, rowing machines, various kinds of bikes or treadmills, etc.  All provide almost similar benefits.  Your goal should be to expend around 400 kCal in 30-40 minutes.  You can spend the next 20 minutes in stretching, or doing an accessory lift (calf muscles, shrugs, abdominals/planks etc.).

If you are a beginner you can try the Couch-to-5K training routine for fun.

For strength training, we use a modified version of Starting Strength and 5×5 SL:

  1. 3-day full-body split (Week 1: A-B-A, Week 2: B-A-B)
  2. Workout A: Shoulder Press, Deadlifts, pull-ups or pull-downs.
  3. Workout B: Squats, Bench Press, Rows.

On a day that you cannot go to the gym, do any of the following alternate routines:

  1. 5 sets each of push-ups, body squats, sit-ups
  2. 10×10 push-up burpees
  3. An hour of hatha yoga poses requiring strength

We believe that if you eat well and exercise 3-5 days a week, you will be the fittest person in your community in no time.

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