2 Overlooked Aspects of Fitness

The crossfit games were on TV the other day.  They claim to be searching for the fittest man and the fittest woman on earth. 

Is that true?

Is that a measurable thing?

I’m not sure.  The answer would depend on who you talk to. 

I’m sure they are the fittest crossfit man and woman on earth. 

I’m also sure that a powerlifter would have a different definition, and a marathon runner another definition.

I don’t believe you can name a fittest person on earth, I believe you can barely name the criteria necessary to define “fittest”.  It’s a fun thought experiment, and a fun argument to have but in the end it is a fluid term that allows multiple definitions.

Despite these arguments over what constitutes “fit” there are a couple rules for creating a foundation of fitness.  There are very few things people in the fitness world agree on but one of those things is what it takes to build a solid foundation of fitness.  The foundation is not built in the gym.

Here are the 2 most important things you need to become "fit".

Neither are sexy. No "FitPros" in Instagram will be sharing pictures about them.

1. Sleep

Sleep is immensely important.  Sleep is when our body truly recovers.  It gives our central nervous system a chance to repair the damage caused by rigorous activity and constant training challenges.  The brain gets a chance to relax and “recharge”, priming itself for the next day.

A bonus for men is extra production of testosterone.  Your testosterone production follows your circadian rhythm, it is high in the morning and slowly lowers itself throughout the day.  By the time night comes your production is at its lowest point.  Your endocrine system “restarts” your testosterone production as soon as you enter REM sleep.  The more high quality sleep you get the more testosterone you will produce.

As we sleep growth hormone is released, which repairs our muscles and regenerates any tissue damaged from training.  When you are sleeping your energy consumption is lowered, so your body has a chance to use the food you ate during the day to build muscle.

Everyone has different sleep requirements, but the average seems to be between 7-9 hours. Hitting the sack an hour earlier than you normally do can have multiple benefits on your physique. Not getting enough sleep is a massive detriment to your mental capacity, hormone production and ability to recover. 

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2. Proper Nutrition

Sleep is great, but it won’t help your fitness unless it is paired with proper and adequate nutrition.  Your nutrition plan is going to be entirely dependent on your fitness goal.  If your goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle in a year you wouldn’t be following a rabbit food diet.  If your goal is significant weight loss you wouldn’t be eating McDonald’s for every meal.

Proper nutrition will help you optimize your workout program, and bring about results quicker.  Your body needs good food to replenish its energy stores, to repair tissue damage and to build new muscle.  Your diet should be made up of mostly lean protein, a ton of vegetables and both simple and complex carbohydrates within reason.  The amount of each will depend on your starting weight and your goal weight.  

As a personal trainer every client I've had has had the goal of body recomposition.  That is a weird term but it simply means they want to lose fat and gain muscle.  No matter if your goal is to achieve the toned look, or to build shoulders the size of a linebacker this describes your goal.  This is also going to be taken into account when creating your proper diet.  More muscle requires more protein, and that will alter your consumption needs.

Need more help? Try out our Macronutrient Calculator.  


The foundation for your fitness is laid in the kitchen and in the bedroom.  Without proper sleep and adequate nutrition you have no chance of reaching your goals.

Fitness is not always about hammering in the gym.  It is mostly about creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.  This is the unsexy part.  You’ll never see an Instagram hashtag #gotenoughsleep or #adequatecalories. 

Most people do not realize that this is the hardest part.  You will spend maybe an hour in the gym per day, and 23 hours outside of it living your normal life.  Those 23 hours are more important for your overall wellbeing and health than the hour spend working out.  You can make or break your workout plan outside of the gym.

Having a solid base of adequate sleep and proper nutrition will allow you to shine in whatever your fitness arena is. 

A personalized fitness program will push you to your limits, and change your body for good.  Train with me online or send me a message to get in touch!

Patrick Henigan