The Fitness Hierarchy
by Elise Ferreira
Health and wellness, just like with any other area of our lives, is governed by a hierarchy of importance. And whether you know it or not, what you do or don’t do affects how you preform in the other areas of your life. Just like with building a pyramid in real life, if you do not build a solid base, the whole thing will eventually fall. As seen in this diagram
, we start with a base of sleep, then nutrition, metabolic conditioning, gymnastics and calisthenics, weightlifting and throwing, and finally sport and life. In this article, we will be going over each step of the hierarchy, what it means, what you can do to maximize that area, and the pitfalls that can happen.
We will start with the base of this pyramid, and that is sleep. Sleep hygiene is incredibly important for both physical recovery and mental wellness. A proper amount of sleep has been known to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s. It also keeps your energy level up, improves your mood, and fights off anxiety and depression.*1 The best way to improve your sleep hygiene is to create a routine around your bedtime. shut off blue light sources at least 30 minutes before, keep your room cool, and we highly recommend meditating before sleeping to help settle your mind. There are great apps to get you started with meditation such as the calm app.
Nutrition is the next step of the pyramid. What you put in your body is what you will get out of your body. This is one of the most hotly contested areas of health and wellness, with lots of schools of thought on the matter. We here at Strategic Strength & Conditioning recommend a diet that is as natural as possible, with lots of fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats, and to consume as little sugar as possible. Feeding yourself clean foods will help your body process them easier, and make your performance at the gym and in life that much better.
Next up is Metabolic Conditioning or metcon for short. Simply put, metcons help your body work efficiently. As a side benefit, it helps lean out your body and burn fat quickly. There are many different energy systems that your body uses, and depending on your goal you can utilize them to your advantage.*2 The best way to improve your metabolic conditioning is to follow a program or to go to either a coach led gym or personal trainer who knows how to best use these systems to reach your goals.
Gymnastics and calisthenics is an often overlooked level of fitness in favor of weightlifting. But, gymnastics is important to help build core strength and gain kinesthetic awareness, or awareness of how your body moves through space. Mastering the basics of gymnastics is important for any person who wants to master the high levels of fitness and to achieve peak performance. The easiest way to achieve this is to research videos on how to perform basic gymnastic movements, and enlist a coach when you encounter blocks in achieving movements.
Weightlifting and throwing are often the most fun for most people to go through in this entire pyramid and is certainly the most flashy. Weightlifting helps to gain overall strength throughout the body and is a baseline to higher strength tasks. The best way to improve in this area of fitness is to perfect your form early on in your weightlifting, and consult a professional trainer when in doubt. Form is critical for long term health and peak performance, so do not skimp on it.
Sport and life are the final level. Rightly so, we are all training for a race, whether it is for our chosen sport, or for the race of life. There are many, many reasons as to why we train, it is important to keep our reason why in mind when we get down or if it seems overwhelming. Write your why on your bathroom mirror or keep a picture somewhere you can always see it, then you always have the reminder for why you are doing it.
In summary, it is important to master the basics of each level to in turn improve the levels above. The ultimate goal is to supplement our sport and our life for a long and happy one.