You Should Read This Post If You:
- Enjoy driving cars
- Enjoy fitness
- Are bored on this Sunday morning
- Are currently thinking about what foods you’ll feast on first when Thursday comes around
It was eight years ago this week that I officially became street legal in the state of Massachusetts and I thought, “what better way to commemorate this special occasion than through a blog post detailing how fitness is analogous to driving a car?”
You see, there are many similarities between driving and fitness. For instance, both require obscenely loud music.
But beyond that, I frequently use automobiles for analogies when I’m trying to describe the human body. The both have their own computer, their own fuel, and their own engine. Maintaining them isn’t too complicated, but there are experts out there if you ever feel confused.
Most importantly, the best cars ever were called “muscle cars.” Coincidence? I think not.
So here are the five simple analogies that show how fitness and driving a car aren’t so different, after all.
You need to know when to take your foot off the gas
If you never hit the brake, you’re eventually going to crash.
Training for anything fitness-related requires both ying and yang. It’s important to balance your workouts and your recovery, else you under-recover and burn-out.
Two of the most important questions I ask during an initial evaluation are in regards to overall stress level and sleep quality. In life, as in the gym, it’s important to know how to shut your engines down for a moment.
For another analogy, imagine a spaceship. In spaceflight, a “burn” is the use of propulsion to adjust the course of flight. From there, the spacecraft “coasts” until such time as the course needs adjusting again. But the ship cannot keep it’s thrusters on all the time.
There simply isn’t an energy system right now capable of delivering that amount of energy. Your body is the same way. If you don’t coast, you’ll run out of energy (and possibly become lost in the dark, cold abyss that is space).
The lesson here is simple: balance your rest time with your workout/work/stress time and you’ll be much better off.
It’s never a good thing that your engine is running hot
When you first hop in your car on a cold November morning, you might notice that your engine revs up to a few thousand more RPMs than you normally idle at. There’s nothing wrong, it’s just cold out and your tachometer is letting you know that your engine is working a bit harder that morning to heat up.
Your body has similar internal mechanisms to keep track of how well you’re “idling.”
Here are a few examples:
- Blood pressure
- Resting heart rate
- Hunger & thirst
- Overall fatigue & tiredness
All of these and more serve as your body’s internal tachometers. Is your blood pressure high? How about your heart rate? Are you more hungry than normal? Or maybe not hungry at all? Did you think long and hard about pulling over to the side of the road and taking a nap on your way home from work yesterday at 4:30 pm?
These day-to-day measures can give us a pretty accurate picture of how our internal engine is doing. If you notice significant changes to these measures, try reevaluating your diet, exercise, and recovery routines.
Use your rear view mirror, but not too often
For the most part, keep your eyes on the road ahead of you.
Live in the present and always look toward the future.
Look, I get it. It’s easy to dwell on the past, both the good and the bad. But if you spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror, you’ll end up deviating from your current path (possibly hitting a squirrel or something).
I’ll never forget: when I first began learning to drive, my father would always yell at me whenever I snuck a peek in the rear view mirror. He would lecture, “What are you looking in the ******* mirror for!? The road’s this way!”
If you want to get somewhere, you need to know where you’re going. Keep your eyes forward.
Real men don’t ask for directions
When it comes to doing manly things like driving, sculpting your beard, or lifting heavy weights, it’s pretty much assumed that you should know where you’re going and how to get there, but that isn’t always true.
Although men are reluctant to ask for directions in the car, there’s no shame in asking for help when it comes to training your body (or sculpting a badass beard).
And if the things I see at the Weymouth Club on a daily basis are any indication, you guys really need it.
But help doesn’t have to come in the form of some 22-year old fresh-from-undergrad trainer that barely knows a barbell from a dumbbell. Try using these resources:
- Buy a book. Yes, read a damn book. Look up Jim Wendler & Alwyn Cosgrove, they’re both good places to start as they’ve written quite a few books.
- Find a training partner. Preferably one that looks and performs like you’d like to. They’re probably already on a program.
- Outsource your training program. Let a good online coach write you a program. It’s cheaper and less emasculating than walking the gym floor with a trainer.
Perhaps most importantly, avoid muscle magazine workouts. They aren’t a plan, they’re a single workout. That would be like your GPS telling you that you’ll need to take a left on Main Street without giving you the rest of the directions.
Bottom line: find a program.
Make sure your tank is full
Perhaps one of my favorite analogies, fueling both your car and your body are very similar.
First off, you must choose the right fuel. For your car, it’s probably the yellow button at the gas pump with an 87 on it. For your body, it’s the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as various micronutrients.
This is where nutrient density comes into play. Sure, you can feast on diet soda, diet snack foods, and fruit if you’d like. But you’d probably be better off sticking with dead animals, vegetables, and eggs. They have a far greater nutrient density and are more worth your time.
Second, you must only fill up your tank when you actually need gas, else your tank runneth over. If you try to put too much fuel into your body, you’ll simply get fatter. Not so bad, but not exactly the look we’re probably going for.
However, if you try to put too much fuel in your car’s gas tank, the fuel will probably run all over your shoes, possibly setting the entire gas station ablaze.
Neither case sounds fun to me.
But if you choose the right type of fuel and put the right amount in, your car (and your body) will perform at optimal levels. Like I’ve said before, owning a Lamborghini is a gigantic waste of money if you keep trying to fuel it with frosting.