Getting or Staying in Shape?

Getting and staying in shape are both completely subjective, relative, and yet both are very different efforts that are uniquely personal. Staying in shape keeps what you’ve built. It’s the comfortable 44# kettlebell that you usually use, that same protein bar you always eat for breakfast, and the convenient “rest” day you take whenever we program a mile run. Getting into shape advances your fitness. It’s the conscious decision to be more uncomfortable in workouts, to wake up earlier to cook breakfast, etc. Getting into shape is both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding, but can be an exhaustive mental and physical state, chasing performance and holding yourself ruthlessly accountable to your output. While staying in shape simply means you stay in cruise control and maintain with easily repeatable efforts and habits. There are times when each effort is completely acceptable, in fact ideal.

To know, it’s helpful to ask yourself:

  1. Why do I want to reach this goal? (Do you feel emotionally obligated to it or does it truly matter to you?)
  2. Can I control the physical variables it takes to get there? (nutrition, training, sleep)

If you have lofty goals that have some real emotional backing to them, then getting into shape needs to takeover your mindset for a few months. A race, competition, wedding day. I’ll use my relationship with running as a helpful example. Typically, I run once, maybe twice per week and can go a tad over three miles without getting terribly tired. Past that point, I begin to physically struggle and it becomes much more of an effort than a flow state. The line in the sand is pretty clear. Up to three miles, I’m staying in shape. Past that, I’ll get in shape.

When I trained for a triathlon in 2018, I had to take on a mindset of getting in shape, mentally preparing myself to double both my frequency and my output, and it was the best state of fitness I’ve ever been in. I couldn’t train for something physically demanding with a stay in shape approach. I can abandon faux goals pretty easily, so luckily I had some good answers to those questions.

  1. Because I have not truly tested or measured myself physically since college athletics, in any capacity. Which disgusted me deeply. 
  2. Yes.

As much fun as your periods of remarkable results are, they are often not a sustainable long term approach for fitness because of how much physical and mental attention we must give them. Training six days a week for an hour and a half per day and eating with 100% adherence. Don’t know about you, but I cannot nor want to keep that up.

If you find yourself in a good mental state in complete control of the variables it takes to produce results, go for it. Get in shape. If you find your variables are more in control of you than the other way around right now, there is nothing wrong with staying in shape. No one is always in control. It’s okay to have major stresses and hurdles that don’t allow you the most optimum time for getting into shape. In fact, this is why most people “fail” and quit altogether. They didn’t check those boxes of important questions, and thus deemed getting into shape “impossible.”

Bringing this all full circle to right now and our current societal circumstances, I’ll make it plainly clear that I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be half throttle right now. There’s a reason professional athletes have periodized approaches to their efforts with offseason, preseason, and postseason. First, the stakes and objectives are wholly different in each phase. Second, it’s the only way to stay in the game long term.

Physically…and mentally.


Monday, 8.10.20

Bay Park & OB PSC

First, for Strength:
5 1 + 1/4 Front Squats
10 Archer Rows
(x16 Min)

Then, for Conditioning:
10 Plate Curl & Press
20 Lateral Plate Shuffles
10 Russian Twists
(x8 Min)

Pacific Beach PSC

Every 90″
A: 16 Deficit DB Rev. Lunges + 10 Lateral Plate Squat Jumps
B: 10 SA Hang Snatch + 16 Crush Grip Curls
C: 12 Broad Jumps


4 Rounds:
15 Push-Up w/ Shoulder Tap
15 Banded Squats
15 Banded Curls

300m Run

Banded Rear Delt Raise
Paused Mountain Climbers
Alternating Stationary Side Lunge

500m Run