The Performance Life
The U.S. government has just announced new physical activity guidelines for Americans. If you’re a glutton for reading long federal documents, check out the plan. Otherwise, save yourself the pain—we’ve unscrambled the key facts for you: The government wants you to move more every day.
That’s outstanding advice, but here’s the issue: Beyond the idea to get active, this new recommendation provides very little information for you to actually act on. So to help make sense of the senseless, we called in a third party—Athletes’ Performance founder Mark Verstegen.
With Verstegen’s help, we’ve decoded five crazy federal mandates contained in the government’s new guidelines and laid out a rescue plan for overweight America.
1. Uncle Sam says: Shape up with the Chicken Corn Chowder Workout
“Some people like resistance bands because they find them easy to use and put away when they are done. Others prefer weights; you can use common grocery items, such as bags of rice, vegetable or soup cans, or bottled water.” — according to the new government physical activity guidelines.
OK, we get it—you don’t need fancy equipment to train, but bags of rice and soup? Really? The Core Performance Essentials training program also requires minimal equipment, says Verstegen, but it’s based on principles used by hundreds of pro athletes, not chicken stock. Fair warning: Upon reaching the pro ranks, you may feel compelled to go on TV and attribute your performance to hearty soup. That’s OK.
2. Uncle Sam says: Trim Your Body Fat With Gardening Tools
The document states: “Try some of these activities a couple of days a week:
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
- Lifting weights
- Push-ups on the floor or against the wall
- Working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch)”
Let’s start with the first bullet point on this list: heavy gardening. (We’ll address the others next.) Verstegen says he loves landscaping—says it’s “real work.” But you have to really put work into it to reap significant reward. Problem is, gardening with poor posture and poor movement patterns is why many people walk away from their garden with an aching back. Always focus on form when you’re active, not just in the gym, but during every move you make. Keep your chest up, your shoulder blades back and down, and brace your abs.
3. Uncle Sam says: Achieve Hunched-Over Politician’s Posture in No Time
Let’s move to the government’s recommended activities, specifically sit-ups. “We live in a state of flexion,” says Verstegen. “If we add more, our chin will be on the keyboard.” In other words, when you sit all day, your hips are flexed and your shoulders are hunched over. You need to counteract that position in the gym, and sit-ups, as the government recommends, just exacerbate the problem.
Instead, try training your midsection with pillar bridges. This will help you build strength and stability through your hips, torso, and shoulders, so you’ll stand taller and look leaner.
4. Uncle Sam says: Play Pin the Tail on the Donkey to Determine Which Muscles to Train Today
The document states: “Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body—your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms. Exercises for each muscle group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per session”
Our record is clear: Train movements, not muscles. Now, the government recommends push-ups, and this is one issue where we agree with them, so long as you do them right: Push your body up all the way until your shoulder blades “plus out” at top. Watch this video to see how to do it. Also: Verstegen says to pair your pushups with “pushups for your legs,” also know as squats. This video will help you squat right.
5. Uncle Sam says: Band Together to Build Strength
We’ll end with another issue in which we actually agree with Uncle Sam: Using resistance bands and tubing. Once again, using them right is key in order to get results and avoid injury. Check out the SKLZ mini bands.
Key take-away: Kudos to the government for stepping up and recommending that all American’s move more. It’s a great first step, but weak on practical application. We all know exercise reduces your risk for numerous diseases and helps you live a happier, healthier life. But we Americans need more than guidelines; we need a plan. Start your training program today.