Improving fitness without running
There are many ways to improve your fitness that don’t involve hours on a treadmill. As a person who endeavors to avoid running at all costs, I’ve compiled a list of alternatives to pounding the pavement.
Incorporate intervals. There is a wealth of research suggesting that interval training increases cardiovascular fitness faster than steady-state training. Traditional Muay Thai training naturally incorporates intervals. For example, three minute rounds at maximum effort on the bag, on pads or sparring with 30 seconds to a minute rest in between will get you results fast.
Keep your body guessing. It’s amazing how your body adapts. When I first started Muay Thai, my arms and legs would be shaking after training. But after about 6 months I stopped getting sore. Then I went and lifted some weights for the first time in about a year and was unable to walk properly for a couple of days. Incorporate different forms of activity every couple of weeks to keep your body on its toes.
Eat plenty of vegetables and adequate protein. Vegetable are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal energy levels. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle recovery. As I blog at Real Food Healthy Body, I increase my micronutrient intake by eating a range of different coloured vegetables and take in protein from quality animal sources.
Sleep well. Sleep is essential for proper recovery. When I consistently get eight hours a night in a dark room, I recover faster and have more energy. For a restful sleep, I avoid caffeine after midday and use blackout blinds or a sleep mask to block out light, maximising the release of sleep hormone melatonin.
Be consistent. Whatever form of training you choose, the longer you neglect it, the harder it is to get back into it. Training needs to become routine so that you reduce the opportunity to make excuses. You may need to push yourself to get to the gym initially. But it will become progressively easier each time as you build a positive habit.