The McBryde Guide to Fitness

The McBryde Guide to Cheerleading went up last week, and our final post in the series is our fitness guide. There are five major components to fitness, and those are: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, body composition, and flexibility. We’re going to examine what each of those mean and how to achieve them.

A quick heads-up: before beginning any fitness regimen, consult your doctor and make sure that you’re not going to do more harm than good. We suggest keeping it simple and not falling for the latest fads – healthy eating, exercise, and lots of water are key. If something makes claims that are too good to be true, they’re pulling your leg.

What is Cardiorespiratory Fitness?

Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to fitness of your heart and lungs, and how effectively your heart can move blood through your body – and use the oxygen your lungs bring in – during physical activity.

Improving your cardiorespiratory fitness requires doing activities that increase your heart rate for a sustained period, activities like a brisk walk, jogging, cycling, or swimming. The idea is to start out slowly, gradually increase the intensity, then gradually reduce the intensity again.

When you exercise, you’re strengthening your heart so it’s able to pump more blood, which moves more oxygen through your bloodstream. Your heart will change when you exercise regularly: if your athletics are strength-based, the heart wall gets thicker. If you’re working on endurance, the ventricles expand.

The lungs’ function may not change or improve much, but your body will learn how to better use what the lungs bring in, so that’s pretty important.

Muscular Strength and Endurance

fitnessExercise contributes to building muscle strength as long as those muscles are worked on a regular basis. There’s no particular secret to this – any activity that you do that works muscles until they’re tired will strengthen them with time. Protein contributes to muscle growth, too, as it helps provide fuel for the expansion of muscle cells.

On the flipside, when you build endurance instead of strength, you’re not increasing muscular size because the body’s more concerned with making sure those muscles are getting the oxygen they need to keep performing. In that case, the focus is on cardiovascular systems instead of the muscles themselves.

Your body has two types of muscle fiber: fast twitch and slow twitch. Your fast twitch fibers tire quickly, don’t need blood to function, and are white in color as a consequence. Slow twitch fibers are the red muscle fibers that are able to do stuff without tiring. An example of slow twitch fibers in action would be a long distance runner, who would be running for long periods of time without getting tired.

Different exercises encourage different types of muscle, so you’ll want to tweak your routine depending on what it is you want to develop.

On Body Composition

When we talk about body composition, we’re referring to the muscle, bone, water, and fat in the body and their amounts. Different sports benefit from different compositions, and someone can drastically shift a set of ratios while remaining the same size – for example, building muscle at the expense of body fat. Figuring out exact body composition is a science in and of itself, but that’s not why we mention it.

We mention body composition to point out that, in your fitness endeavors, you may find that you don’t lose any weight. This isn’t a failing. Your body is changing for the better no matter what size you are, it’s simply a matter of shifting priorities. Are you less soft and more solid? Congratulations, you’re now a powerhouse.

Flexibility and Fitness

The range of movement that your joints can accomplish improves as you exercise tendons and they loosen up. What flexibility refers to is the range of movement that your joints are capable of, and the better that gets, the better it is for you. It means your joints can go through their full range of motion instead of being limited.

People tend to work on flexibility using stretches. When you do your warm-ups, this is generally what you’re doing, so improving flexibility is one of those things that comes along with taking up a fitness routine.

How to Get Fit

Actually getting fit is a process that’s easier for some people than others.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: if you’re not invested in this process, you’re not going to make it. You have to want fitness. It’s not an easy thing, it’s going to require lifestyle changes, and if you’re not ready to make those changes, you’re going to fall flat on your face.

With that said, even just adding regular exercise to your life is better than nothing.

So, just what’s involved with getting fit?

Figuring Out Fitness: Goals

One of the first things you ought to be doing is figuring out what your fitness goals are, even if it’s something as simple as “be able to climb the stairs without getting winded”. Start small. The key to goals is making them something that you actually can achieve, like being able to run a marathon.

If goals aren’t a thing that tickles your fancy, you can instead opt to make new habits, like drinking water instead of pop or taking the long way to class. Whichever way you do it, you have to understand that these are things that you have to work toward and you’re not going to change in a day.

Food and Fitness

Food is fuel.When you’re lighting a fire, if you try to use the wrong fuel, you’ll just wind up with smoke or nothing at all. You have to use the right combination of fuels to get the flame you want, and to make it last as long as you need.

Our bodies are similar, and the quality of fuel matters, too.

We’re not telling you to go on a no-GMO, all-organic, whatever-the-latest-fad-is diet or anything like that. First off, all your food is genetically modified – it’s called selective breeding. It’s why corn is the way it is instead of being the dinky plant of its ancestors. It’s why we have specialized dog breeds and a zillion different types of tomato. No, what we’re telling you is to cut or reduce the crap and get with the good stuff.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats (or their vegetarian substitutes) provide the nutrients your body needs to run effectively. If you can’t afford fresh, you get what you can afford – frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, and canned are still better than none.

Don’t change your diet all at once. Make gradual changes, like replacing your usual snacks with vegetables or cooking more meals at home.

Oh, and, of course, you’ll want to drink more water. Lots of water. Hydration is super important, especially when it comes to the exercise part.

Pick an Activity and DO IT

fit 001The other portion of getting fit is the one where you do a lot of moving.

It’s recommended that you have 20-30 minutes per day of movement, though more is better.

The only way you’ll stick with whatever activity you choose is if you actually enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to try several different things, take classes, check out videos, whatever it takes to find something that you like doing… and then do it.

That’s basically all there is to it: eat better and move.

Whatever activity you go with, it needs to get your heart pumping and you need to warm up your muscles with some light stretching before you actually get to it. Small changes are better than nothing, and it sometimes helps to have a friend (and lots of support) taking the journey with you.

One last thing: stop working to the point where you’re in pain. “No pain, no gain” is bad advice, seriously, that’s how people wind up with injuries and give up on their fitness goals.

What finally got you to stick to your fitness goals? Comment or contact us and tell us your story!

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31 thoughts on “The McBryde Guide to Fitness

  1. While being skinny and slim is very “in” right now, strength is what I aspire towards the most. Girl or guy, (but especially girl) nothing is more rewarding than feeling healthy and strong. This post has a lot of great information and advice. Thanks!

    1. You said it yourself ‘nothing more rewarding than staying healthy and strong’ – great comment! Fitness all the way. Stay strong and healthy – #TeamMcBryde

  2. This a terrific and informative guide to general fitness! I used to play sports in high school but subsequently let everything go as I settled into a desk career and had kids. Now that I’m middle aged, I truly regret not staying active. I’ve packed on the weight and have health problems. I’m slowly trying to get fit again. It’s tough (tougher than it would have been if I had just kept active for those years) but my kids are reason enough to keep at it.

  3. Wouldn’t it be cool if companies would allow people to sit on stability balls instead of regular chair? Or if companies would just invest in making it easier for people to do their jobs while helping them stay fit in some shape or form? I think this can definitely be done and I’m sure it would improve productivity in many industries. But how do we get the ball rolling? How do we show companies it’s in their best interest to do this?

    1. Hi Maria, thanks for replying to the Mcbryde guide to fitness, we are glad you enjoyed it! You are right, stability balls are a great innovation in the office space, I think Google has actually implemented it. More companies should do so.

  4. What a great post, love your hot tips! I think you are right in asking us to figure out what our fitness goals are first, they can really be something very simple that we do every day but are what we wished to improve to have a healthier lifestyle. Without having a goal, the meaning is not there, as a result, the fitness plan we do will not last long. Besides, I agree with you that having lots of water is the key, sometimes, I would add two or three thin slices of fresh lemon so it can detox my body and skin. The taste is just refreshing. Probably, you can try that too? Oh, what finally get me to stick to my fitness goals? – The compliments I received from others and the confidence when I look myself into the mirror!

    1. Hi Jenna, thanks for reading the Mcbryde guide to fitness! Yes, you are completely right, goals are necessary for progress to happen. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

  5. I have to ask, what do you think about CrossFit? I have heard many things, good and bad, about CrossFit training and am considering joining a CrossFit gym. Does CrossFit offer a good workout and is it good for beginners?

  6. WoW! This is information some people pay money to get. Thanks for another awesome post. I’ve been working really hard lately and i’ve got to say your tips are more than helpful. On the drinking water issue, i’ve seen a lot of debate going on online. Most people say water just adds more calories after you’ve initially burned them, can you give me more info on this?

  7. After reading your post I feel so educated and I no longer feel lost in knowing what exactly I need to do to Change my body and my health! I am so excited to start thank you so such for all of your insight and knowledge!

  8. Thank you for posting this. I need to work on my personal fitness now because I’m not as healthy as I could be. I’ve been seeing a lot of people put emphasis on doing kegs – is that a good idea to do? I appreciate all the information here, especially about food because EVERY fitness post I have read thus far has put so much effort into “All Organic ALL the Time” guides instead of general fitness like you see here!

    1. Doing any form of exercise is good as long as you listen to your body and stay within your capabilities.Fitness should be built into, not jumped into. Good luck with your quest!

  9. I remember with ‘cardio’ workouts became the fad in the 1980’s. Like most Americans, I jumped on that bandwagon. We danced to specially recorded records by celebrities. We wore the craziest and frankly, sometimes the ugliest outfits to look the part. Things are greatly different these days. Today, we understand more about fitness and better dressing habits. 🙂

    It is important to note that one should always start a new workout routine slowly. They shouldn’t jump into it. The results not only could result in injuries, but also play on their mental health. It’s the ‘if I do that, I’ll get hurt again’ thought.

    I love this post for its informative but simple format. In simple, I mean easy to read without a lot of technical jargon that tends to glaze over the eyes that read. I’ve always been an active person until the past few years where injuries have slowed me down quite a bit. This article reminds me that I don’t have to do a lot. I just have to do something. Thank you.

    1. Cardio is criticalo, if you dont have any then your training will go nowhere, or be very limited to say the least. Thanks for reading Jaci! Good luck in your training!

  10. What an awesome post! I think you are right in requesting that we make sense of what our wellness objectives are to begin with, they can truly be something extremely basic that we do each day to enhance ourselves.

  11. Just when I thought I had found all the good fitness related blog, I found your post,
    that shows quite a few more interesting facts on fitness. Well researched, articulated,
    organized and woow!! very good info here, highly recommended for everyone

  12. Thank you for posting this,In the wake of perusing your post I feel so instructed and I no more feel lost in recognizing what precisely I have to do to Change my body and my wellbeing! I am so eager to begin thank you so such for the greater part of your understanding and information!Thank you.

  13. This is a fantastic post McBryde, I think you are right in asking us to figure out what our fitness goals are first, I love fitness a lot. I don’t joke with it. Its keeps you in shape. Planning to get new fitness equipment to keep more fitness.

    Thank You.

  14. I just discovered this blog and I must say I’m at the right place. I am going to be guided by this statement “even just adding regular exercise to your life is better than nothing.” I used to think whenever i’m in pain, I should stop working out, but your article has proven otherwise. You are a lifesaver.

  15. Thanks for such an informative article, some great tips I’ll definitely be considering! I’ve contemplated getting into fitness recently and there’s a lot of dedication that goes into it. I’ll definitely be easing into it like you suggested, such a great idea to start with swapping pop for water, etc. Thanks!

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