There’s a lot more to football besides skills and size. Being in great shape and at the right weight are also essential for success in football. After 14 years of playing football (3 in the NFL), and 20 years as a personal trainer these are my top 5 tips for anyone inspired to take their fitness to the next level this fall (and hopefully) beyond. These tips will work for you even – especially – if you never plan on going pro.
1. Focus on the feeling.
Losing weight and getting in shape are the wrong goals because what you really want is to stay in shape and to keep the weight off. This is not semantics. When you are primarily focused on the scale and the mirror you’re going to burn out quickly because no matter how good your results, everyone is disappointed with them at some point. Everyone has bad days, weeks and months. When vanity is your primary focus you will quit working out after a bad week or two, and the process of regaining the weight and losing your fitness begins all over again.
Longevity and consistency trump everything. If you focus on the way you feel first you will eventually have the vanity, but if you focus on the vanity you will have neither.
2. Muscles keep you safe for life.
As a wide receiver I knew my muscles held my joints together when a defender tried to take my head off. However, muscles are even more important off the gridiron and with age. Your strength and muscle mass determine both your quantity and quality of life. The things you take for granted today – getting up and down off the floor, going up the stairs, playing with your kids – are all dependent on strength. None of these tasks need to become impossible with age because you can get stronger and build better bones at any age. It takes a lot less time than you think. 2 strength workouts per week will change the course of your life (and your family’s) forever.
You are worth it.
3. It doesn’t really get any easier.
Many people are waiting for the day when getting your workouts in doesn’t take a second thought, and when the work itself isn’t very hard.
When I turn 50 in a few months I will have been working out for 42 years. I don’t like to admit it, but it’s harder than ever for me to workout these days. This is mostly because of the responsibilities that come with time, like being a grandfather. However, working out it becomes more important to me every year as I see the health trajectory of my family (who drink as if it was exercise) and know I never want to be like that.
42 years into my fitness journey I still get tired and sweaty, and the exercises I need to do the most are also the ones I like the least.
There’s nothing wrong with difficult. Without resistance (metaphorical and literal) we atrophy to nothing.
4. Quality over Quantity.
When you’re young and your paycheck depends on playing and training through pain it’s nearly impossible to understand this. Right now “high intensity” training has become a good idea taken too far. Yes, effort is required. Yes, you need to do enough exercise to see results. But more effort and more exercise isn’t necessarily better. Better is better. Safer is better.
If I could go back in time I would give my younger self a movement base-line for my training so I could know my green, yellow and red lights for movement. (This – using The Functional Movement Screen – is now standard in the NFL.) I can’t go back in time, but I give one to all of my clients. I’d be happy to give you one too. Free of charge.
5. Teammates matter more than you know.
Culture earns championships because we are social animals. Even if you don’t know anyone’s name, the people you share (or attempt to share) workout space with will determine 90% of your success. How? By how they make you feel.
Think about where most people attempt to consistently train: everyone has headphones in, people avoid eye contact, nobody knows your name, some guy is hitting on and/or harassing the female members, people hoard equipment and give you dirty looks if you come near something they’re “still using.” For 90% of us humans consistently exercising in a place like this is mission impossible because we’re wired to be social.
It’s hard for my inner trainer-geek to admit, but the fun, supportive, safe and comfortable community we provide our clients is infinitely more important than our program design and nutrition guidance.
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Gregory Clifton, Head Coach at True 180 Personal Training: Former NFL Wide Receiver and North Carolina native Gregory Clifton, has always had a passion for fitness. (Fun fact: he was the 13th player signed by the Carolina Panthers!) He became involved in sports at an early age, setting the foundation for a lifetime career in the fitness industry.
Invoking a holistic approach to personal training, Gregory takes True 180’s three-pronged approach to heart. Focusing on a combination of customized nutrition, cardio and resistance programs with personal accountability, he ensures that each workout and nutrition program he designs is customized to garner the best results in his clients.
He believes that you have a responsibility to give something back to society. Using his unique background combined by a healthy respect for women instilled in him by his mom growing up, Gregory has found his calling.
Leading by example, Gregory has dedicated his life to motivating and encouraging others to achieve a positive, healthy, and active lifestyle through physical fitness.