In what seems like another life, I was once captain of my high school football team.  Honestly, I’m not sure why I stuck with football as it never was a favorite sport, but for some reason I did.  We were awful.  But there were only 33 kids out for football during my senior year.  When 11 play at a time, that just isn’t enough bodies to keep up with teams that have 50+.  But we could have been better.  Many of us played offense and defense and were in great shape.  But we were never strong enough and a big part of that was the way we trained.

I’ve always worked out.  Even so, for much of my life I didn’t accomplish great results.  Fast forward to now and I only have so much time to work out.  Time with my kids, time with my spouse, and time to expand myself professionally are too important.  My goal now is to hit the gym twice a week.  40 mins is the most I have for a gym workout but most of the time it is 30 minutes.  My goal is to run 3 times a week, but I’m finding 2 is more realistic.  Right now I am keeping myself to 25 minute runs at most.  Therefore I’m getting 110 mins of planned exercise a week at most.  Yet I’m seeing gains in strength that I never saw in high school or college.  In high school I lifted weights 2 out of every 3 days when training for football.  In college, I lifted weights for 2 hours 3 times a week as a sophomore.  Yet in college, I still slowly gained weight and when I backed off the lifting I gained more than the freshman 15.

I hear Abel James say something like “Exercise doesn’t make us healthy; it makes us feel good” often on his podcasts.  For so much of my life the message of pushing my body to fitness has been everywhere.  We didn’t talk about nutrition during football.  We talked about isolating muscles in the weight room.  Next time you pump out some curls, look at yourself in the mirror and seriously ask yourself, “When am I ever going to do something productive in my life that only uses my biceps?”

Our bodies were built to move in cohesive motions together.  I wasted time with the way I worked out my body.  When I hit those rough times and just didn’t make it to the gym, the working out wasn’t making me feel better.  You can’t push yourself past bad nutrition.  It doesn’t matter how hard you work out.  Bad nutrition always wins.  My workout life starting in high school is a great example.

Even so, moving our body does make us feel better.  But, why waste time on making 1 part of my body, like a bicep, feel better when I can focus my work toward most of my body at once?  I just recently have begun to understand the core of my body.  Every so often, I think back to those football days and wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I had worked out then like I do now.

The following are non-negotiable for me in workouts now because time is too valuable to use it on things that do not bring out the best results.  In the next few posts I hope to lay out some of my favorite exercises that I didn’t even know about as a football player.

  • No longer do I complete any exercise that involves lying or sitting on a bench.  I sit enough throughout the day to use any workout time without my core engaged.  When you lie down on a bench to lift weights, your core has nothing to do.  For me I can’t afford to use time without my core engaged.  Even when I isolate a muscle group, I do it standing, squatting or bending over.
  • I complete full body motion exercises first.  If I’m feeling good, I keep going with full body exercises and skip any exercises that isolate muscles when I am short on time or if I have the time and am feeling good.
  • Most of my runs involve intervals.  I have a lot of work to do here, but running hard for a short time with slow periods in between makes me feel so much better than running slowly for what feels like forever.

If you are still eating processed foods without plant based whole foods as a core to your diet, forget the workout.  Any results you might get will be sucked up by bad nutrition.  You will probably even eat more and if your nutrition is bad, you are just putting more bad stuff into your body.  It took me 15 years to figure out that working out and putting more bad stuff in my body was making me feel even worse.  You are better off focusing on nutrition and sleep.  The workouts will come when you are putting nutrients in your body that will help your work outs.  But when you get there, learn about your core.  You don’t have time to waste.  If it doesn’t engage your core, it’s not the best way to move your body to feel good.