You’re not a house. Obviously. But imagine if you were. Would you put the roof on first? Would you put the walls up without any support in them? Would you be slap-dash about the whole thing? Hopefully your answers would be no, no, and of course not. But so many people build their bodies in this wrong-order slap-dash manner and then wonder why they experience the consequences of having done so.
When you build your body with the attention and craftsmanship of building your forever home (because your body is just that…your forever home) you’re likely to see your aches and pains simmer down. You’re likely to feel more capable and more comfortable in your body. You’re going to become stronger. You’ll be able to take on more. You’ll become what, around here, we call becoming unbreakable.
If you want to build an unbreakable body, you shouldn’t start on the “roof” first. This is like when someone who was living a sedentary lifestyle yesterday decides to do a high-intensity strength and conditioning program today. That’s the roof and you haven’t put the foundation in yet.
And speaking of foundation, you don’t want to skimp on that. This is like when someone does a few “prehab” drills before their ‘real workout’ and assumes it’s enough to ensure everything that makes up the foundation of your body and your fitness is taken care of. It’s not.
And you certainly don’t want to neglect your home over the years. Just because you did some strengthening of your body six months ago doesn’t mean it will last forever. A home needs upkeep if it’s going to last.
But enough of the what not to do’s – let’s get to the good stuff you should be doing to build your body so that it supports you in becoming unbreakable, both now and for the long haul.
One: Build Your Foundation
The foundation is the thing which you’ll layer everything else on. If you don’t build a solid one, or fail to have a foundation at all, and you’ll run into problems down the road.
One part of a strong body foundation is building your joints so they function as they are built to function.
Most folks have at least one joint – and usually many joints – that don’t work like they’re intended to.
It’s all too common to see shoulders that don’t have enough active range of motion to lift the arm overhead without compensating in the neck. And to see hips that haven’t seen the ability to rotate internally or externally in a decade, thus making all motions at the hip compromise upstream into the back and downstream into the knee and ankle.
It’s putting the cart before the horse to try and do a workout that includes push-ups and shoulder presses if your shoulder doesn’t even work like a shoulder. And the aches and pains that come with this cart being before the horse shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Building a foundation is also about introducing gradually increasing doses of the stressor.
You wouldn’t force a kid who just learned their ABC’s to write a thesis paper on quantum physics, and you shouldn’t expect the tissues and systems that make up your body to do intense workouts if you just stopped your sedentary lifestyle yesterday.
It’s understandable to want to go hard and tackle your goal of being fit and strong, but the sooner you can recognize truthfully where you are at, and dose yourself accordingly with movement and exercise, the sooner you’ll see consistent gains.
Your body will respond to the signals you send it, but if you send more signals than it can handle at this time, the responses your body makes will be mediocre at best.
If you don’t know how to dose yourself accordingly when in the foundation-building level of things, a coach can help tremendously. It’s why I built the UB Jump Start: Beginner Track Program – so that folks in this stage could get the guidance needed to make real, measurable, progress in the first eight weeks of building fitness.
Two: Maintain Your Foundation
You’ve sent signals, you’ve gotten responses, and your body has formed a foundation of function, mobility, and strength. You can’t stop the upkeep.
Remember that your body is always responding to the signals you send it. So if you stop sending signals that you’re using the full range of motion in your hips that you worked hard to build, your body will stop prioritizing the maintenance of it.
This doesn’t mean you have to keep doing all the workouts you did before to get to this place plus add on any new workouts you’re doing now. You’d never stop working out if that were the case! But you do need to send a consistent signal to your body to tell it to maintain what you’ve built.
One way to do this is to move your body every single day. Specifically, to move each joint through its full range of motion every day. That’s why folks in my coaching group have a Daily Movement Series they do as many days of the week as they can, which guides them through the maintenance work needed for their body in a 15 minute routine.
3. Layer It Up
When building a home, they don’t build the foundation and then put the roof on. They build layer after layer of structure and support. This, in turn, makes the house a fortified structure that can withstand the test of time.
Now that you’ve built a foundation in your body and you’re maintaining it, you’re likely noticing the benefits. Your job is to solidify that foundation with more strength and support.
To go back to our ABC’s example from earlier, you can read now so it’s time to move on to the Harry Potter series (or similarly awesome Young Adult novel series that is totally not just for young adults.)
Introduce training that incrementally increases the tolerance of your tissues, the force production you can make, and the endurance you can sustain. This is the meat and potatoes of getting stronger.
This is why I built the UB Jump Start: Experienced Track Program – so that when you reach this level, you can have guidance of how to layer on more strength, mobility, and control, onto your foundation.
4. Increase complexity.
This is the part most people start at when they should have started with building their foundation.
Complexity is what helps you specify your fitness for a certain thing you want to be able to do. It’s why someone who is great at Crossfit and thus considered “fit” may try their hand at jiu-jitsu and get totally crushed. Or when people ask those of who are climbers how many push-ups or pull-ups we can do, we’re like “I don’t know, ten?” Fitness isn’t the same for every endeavor.
But that’s the joy of having built a foundation. Once you’ve got your foundation in place, and you’re maintaining it, and have layered on more support and structure, you get to expand into more specific and more complex sports, activities, and ways of moving.
To increase and expand your capacity of what your body can handle, you must make things ever so slightly more complex for your nervous system. If it’s a skill you need to learn, you start introducing your strength to the specifics of that skill. If it’s a level of metabolic conditioning you need to acquire, you start introducing your current cardiovascular health to the a small taste of the metabolic conditioning you want to achieve. Slowly over time, as you introduce more of the more complex thing to yourself, you adapt and become capable of doing it.
Your Forever Home
Your body is quite literally the home you live in forever. And it’s never too late to build it to be strong and solid. Thankfully, your body is always ready to respond to the signals you send it – whether you’re 20 or 80 years old. Remember that it may be exciting to do the stuff in step four, but if you haven’t built your home using steps one through three first, you’re going to have to go back and take care of those steps at some point.
If you’re ready to start training your body to be a strong and sturdy forever home for yourself, I have two programs that are perfect for you. Each is an 8 week program, and the Beginner Track is for if you’re starting on step one, while the Experienced Track is for if you’re in step two or beyond.