I stumbled across this, previously unpublished, post a few days ago and upon re-reading realised…
Hacks used to be all the rage back in the late 2000’s.
Led primarily by Tim Ferriss, who helped us hack our working week initially, we were soon hacking our life, our fitness, our cooking and our biology.
So prevalent did ‘hacking’ become that, unless it was applied in its original sense – doing nefarious stuff on computers – it became synonymous with the shady & slippery dance of the snake-oil salesman.
Which is harsh when all the humble ‘hack’ ever wanted to do was give you a cheat-code to do something more efficiently to benefit your life.
But while the term has wilted away, the intent remains, and millions of people around the world are hacking away. They just call it something else now. Viva La Hack.
I’ve compiled a list of five fitness ‘hacks’ that have stood the test of time and are still as relevant and beneficial as they were back in 2015 which was when I first started sharing some of my tips.
They are all fairly simple to implement and provide an asymmetric return on (your time) investment. I’ve chucked in a couple of newer ones too, just to keep things fresh.
1. 10,000 Steps A Day
Super simple, but, as we know (thanks to Jim Rohn), just because something is simple doesn’t make it easy.
Walking 10k steps a day consistently takes a bit of discipline. It also takes a bit of time (or at least some forethought / planning).
So why do it?
– It’s super low-impact so no real risk of injury
– It’s decent cardio, especially if your route is hilly or you power-walk some or all of it
– It gets you outside and in direct sunlight
– You can listen to “learning stuff” while you’re doing it – podcasts or Audible
– You can do work meetings on the move
2. Daily Creatine Supplementation
When I wrote this post in 2016, creatine was one of my “only 4” supplements that you actually need.
A couple of the others on the list have changed or altered slightly but not the ‘mighty C’.
If you’re reasonably active, then there’s absolutely no reason not to be taking creatine. It helps muscles grow and it helps you recover. This is scientifically proven by studies.
There are no known side-effects. Even the much used trope that it makes retain water is a bit anecdotal and flimsy. If this happens to you to dial down the dose a bit.
The other thing it has going for it, and this was one of the makers I used in the last article, is that amongst all of the fitness industry expertise on the subject, none of it has ever questioned it’s benefits.
So folks far more scientifically qualified than I’ll ever be and who have the time to study it at length, have done so, and found it to be universally beneficial. And that’s plenty good enough for me.
Here’s the affiliate link to my creatine sponsor…..jokes.
3. Sprint & Lift Heavy
If you’re time-poor and / or don’t have a gym membership, then buying a pair of Hex dumbbells is going to be the best use of $100 you’ll ever make.
Because then you can sprint and lift heavy (kinda).
You can take your DBs down the park, do a bunch (6 or 8) of compound exercises, say, for 40 seconds of work & 20 seconds of rest. Run through that 3 times.
Then sprint the width of a football pitch 6 – 10 times – the sprint should take 20 seconds or less, rest the remainder of the minute and then go again.
If you did this workout once per week with enough weight on the dumbbells, it WILL improve almost every aspect of your health and fitness. If it doesn’t, you get your money back…
Always warm up thoroughly before hitting full speed on your sprints. Maybe make the first 3 of the 10 progressively faster striders.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Tried & tested, IF works for a number of reasons, both scientific & psychological / placebo-ish.
It feels to me like more people nowadays are leaning into the ‘8 hour eating window’ than the 5/2 restricted daily calories variant, but I could be wrong.
It’s fairly easy to crow-bar fasting into your daily life by simply skipping breakfast or any food until 11am or midday. Black coffee is prescribed and, whilst milk will technically break your fast, I personally don’t think it’s too much of an issue.
If you last until 11am you’ll start to get that strange sensation that the body is actually using its fat for fuel. Or just get really hangry and annoyed. Tough it out for a few days and you’ll adjust.
5. Fitness Trackers
I got an Oura Ring late last year and I have to say it’s been a game-changer.
It tracks literally everything, much of it in a forensic bio-hacking detail that I simply don’t need.
All I’m interested in is the rolled-up daily summary score for Readiness, Sleep and Activity. These three numbers tell me what I did yesterday and how it affected me overnight.
And believe me, like a beady-eyed teacher in class who has a knack for knowing when you’re misbehaving, this wearable device knows everything about your behaviour, specifically exactly what you got up to last night.
And boy does she let you know about it in the morning via your sleep score and readiness score. Tsk tsk, you naughty boy, it’s detention for you.
And then you mooch about for a bit, shame-faced because you know you let yourself down and you vow never to do it again.
New For 2023
6. Ice Baths
Ice baths really blew up last year and they’ve continued the momentum this year.
Every man, woman & their dog are now rocking up to the beaches of Sydney at sunrise to be guided through a meditation and then jump in a portable ice-bath, and then jump into the ocean.
It’s great that folks are embracing the cold water therapy trend and we have to thank Wim Hof for being the ‘Messiah of the Ice’.
There are a lot of proven benefits from reducing inflation, improving recovery, building resilience and helping with fat loss. I’m sure there are plenty of unproven ones too.
Ice baths are viciously unpleasant so hats off to anyone who is prepared to take the plunge. The temperature of the ice bath, which can range from 1 degree to 9 degrees usually, plays a large part, and in a group of 50 folks sharing the same water, I’d much rather be the last one in, having let the other 49 souls warm it up for me.
7. Daily Hydralite
I started adding Hydralite tablets to my water after football matches for recovery.
Then first thing in the morning. And then last thing at night.
Whether I’m potassium or sodium deficient remains to be seen but there’s something about the tablets that makes me feel less thirsty than drinking the same volume of plain water.
Or it’s the placebo-effect kicking in.
Either way, I’m going to keep doing it over the course of the footy season and see how I feel. Trouble is, the price of hydralite has gone through the roof so I”m testing out some Voost multi-packs from Chemist Warehouse and the Aldi own-brand version.