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How To Train For Overall Health

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

If you are reading this article I hope that you are already exercising regularly, or at least contemplating beginning an exercise regime. Whichever group you belong to, you should ask yourself one question: What am I trying to achieve? Are you trying to improve your physique? Are you trying to get fitter for a specific event? Are you trying to get healthier? Whatever your answer is, you need to ensure your training approach matches the desired outcome. If you want to achieve a certain physique, then you need to tailor your training appropriately. If you are trying to get fitter for a specific event, then your training should be geared towards mimicking the demands of the sport, and programmed so that you peak for the event(s). If you are trying to get healthier, then read on!


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The first step to this article is to define “health”, by which I mean:

1. Remain injury-free without imbalances and pain

2. Be able to perform your daily tasks and work requirements without pain or great discomfort

3. Be within the recommended guidelines for health markers such as blood pressure, resting heart rate and body fat percentage

4. Be proficient in all functional movement patterns (more on that later)

By aiming to achieve the above targets and following a healthy diet, you should be able to reach a good level of overall health.

So, what do I recommend as a good fitness plan to follow? Let’s take a look:

Daily Activity

Being active day today is the main step to improving your health. Aside from the obvious benefits of increasing your movement and therefore calorie expenditure, by remaining conscious of your efforts to be more active you will tend to stay in a healthier mind frame. This, in turn, could help you make healthier meal choices and avoid temptation.

Aim to walk for at least 30 minutes each day, preferably in a FASTED STATE. This could be a 30-minute walk to work, walking the dog or a quick walk around the park on your lunch break before eating your first meal of the day. Yes, this may mean not eating your first meal until the early afternoon, but intermittent fasting is a great way to control your eating habits.

Functional Training

Functional training aims to improve an individuals ability to perform their daily tasks and/or sporting disciplines effectively and without injury by focusing on movement efficiency, joint health and muscular balance. 

A functional training programme can be split into either everyday movements or sport-specific movements. Compared to a sport, we perform a much broader range of movements day-to-day. We sit, we walk, we lift, we hold, we push and we pull, all without taking much notice of it. To apply a functional training programme to everyday life, we focus on 9 fundamental movement patterns:

  • Squat

  • Lift

  • Press

  • Pull

  • Rotation

  • Smash

  • Gait/locomotion

  • Carry

  • Fighting (specialised)

With the exception of fighting (hopefully), these are movements we invariably perform every day. Training them to improve efficiency and strength should make day-to-day activities easier and remove imbalances. Fighting, on the other hand, is a skill we hope to never have to use. The reason for its importance is how vital a skill it could prove to be should we ever need to utilise it. In addition to this, fight training such as pad work is a great workout and I recommend everyone give it a try at least once.

Most injuries result from muscular weaknesses stemming from an imbalance in the body. Muscles work in groups and each muscle group has its antagonistic (opposite) group. The muscles involved in a pressing movement are usually antagonistic to those used in a pulling group. When one movement is trained more than its antagonistic movement, an imbalance occurs which leads to injury. A common one is neck pain resulting from a rounded upper back which is most commonly due to ones posture, especially if they are hunched over a desk for the majority of the time. It could also result from overworking the pressing muscles if you perform the bench press 3 times per week for example!

Aim to train every movement pattern at least once per week. Lifting, in particular, should be trained more than once per week as the muscles involved are often weaker in the general population due to lifestyle habits such as being seated for most of the time