The 3 Pillars of optimal Physical Health, Performance and Wellbeing

The Longevity Blog   •   January 13, 2019


want to share a story that isolates a few key aspects of these pillars that may give you some insight to your own physical health and wellbeing

  1. Rest/Recovery
  2. Nutrition
  3. Movement/Exercise

Recently I was assisting a client who I had been training for quite some time

Although she was eating amazingly and smashing out over 6 hours of exercise a week ranging from HIIT, weights, cardiovascular and abdominal based exercise classes she was seeing little-to-no improvement in her body composition and physical performance

After diving into a conversation about the three pillars we uncovered a few areas that may have been contributing to her plateau.


6 hours per week is a great amount of movement to be engaging in per week

The Problems

The main problem was engaging in exercise whilst still fatigued and not recovered from the last workout

  1. She was doubling up on certain physiological systems (cardiovascular, strength, power) without adequate rest periods between exercise bouts
  2. Hitting the same muscle groups too often and too early before they had adequate time to recover after the previous workout
  3. Stuck in the “more = better” mindset rather than training smarter and less is more and following the Minimal Effect Does (MED) principle which will be discussed and linked to soon in a future post

Some people say ‘but elite athletes train sometimes 3 hours per day! I’m only doing ‘X’ amount which is nowhere near what they are doing…

You are true… But


Elite athletes have a massive team of health professionals behind them making sure every aspect of these three pillars is tailored and perfected to their individual needs and sport


They have been training for years and years putting in thousands and thousands of hours to get where they are. It takes time to build up to that volume of training


What are you actually training for? Unless it’s an event that an elite athlete is competing in that amount of training is most likely not needed for your goals… If it’s weight loss you are in for a treat in an upcoming post!!!

The Solutions

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

  • I follow a Macro (3 months), Meso (1 month), Micro (1 week) training program for all my clients whether they know it or not. If you are not planning exercise you might want to get someone on board to help out with this. There will be a future post that will dive into this
  • The fault of overtraining was somewhat on me because I was unaware of the amount of exercise she was doing outside the sessions she was doing with myself. 


  • We looked at types of training, when she did them, why she did them and determine the minimal amount of recovery she needed from that type of exercise
  • We then tailored our sessions to her goals and took into account her other weekly exercise activities and educated her the different systems and muscle groups and the importance of the other two pillars

Finding the Minimal Effective Does (less is more)

  • This involves discovering what is the minimal amount of exercise that you as an individual can undertake in to get benefits
  • Again a future post that will dive into this

The problem wasn’t that she was exercising too much, planning was the problem. Once we overcame this a dramatic improvement in performance was expected, assuming the other areas were kept in check. Please note a focus on the importance of the rest/recovery and nutrition pillar here to assist in recovering from a workout.


There were a few areas we uncovered that although were allowing her to get by fine, her rest and recovery was impacting her ability to progress.

The Problems

  1. Sleep was not of adequate quantity and quality
  2. Stress levels were running high from her work-life and social-life (at the time)
  3. There was little ‘me-time’ and ‘down-time’ time after a big day

The Solutions

The Importance of Sleep Minimise blue light intake 1-2 hours before bed

  • We did this by getting blue light blocking apps on her phone and computer if she was to be on these leading up to bedtime
  • You can do this on your iPhone with night mode
  • For computers, there is a great app called f.lux

The Importance of Night Routines

  • This involves creating a night routine that was similar in nature each night

Adopt a reflection practice to develop the skill catching yourself before you react and develop

  • This is an important skill for an understanding of the distinction between what you can control and what you cannot control in your life
  • This included a meditative practice to develop the skill of Controlling Reactivity
  • Reading the book ‘the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK
  • Doing an 80/20 Stress Analysis of the things that caused the stress and then actively seeing what could be changed within the workplace


This Pillar was great!

  • She was eating a wide variety of foods from all the food groups
  • Little if any processed foods
  • Protein was adequate for her gender, age, height and type of training from a range of different sources
  • Was currently undertaking intermittent fasting

The only thing we looked at was Optimal Eating Times

  • This turned out to be very effective. She ended up increasing her calorie intake which resulted in dropping body fat (kg) whilst increase muscle mass (see Why Body Fat % is a Stupid Measurement)

What! That’s correct you read right

We increased her caloric intake from protein to drop the amount of fat on her body

How’d we do this?

(future post A Calorie is not a Calorie is not a Calorie for a deep dive into this topic, stay tuned)

Those who over exercise are often in a state of chronic inflammation, overstimulation which can lead to chronic stress. In this state, a number of different physiological systems throughout the body are in continuous stress. Put simply, whilst under this stress, the body likes to hold onto your adipose (fat) tissue, making it hard to lose body fat weight. This is not the same for everyone as you can train your body to fluctuate weight quite well but sometimes for a beginner-intermediate that is trying to cut weight by restricting calories whilst exercising can be very hard and detrimental to their health.

Take Home Messages

Plan your exercise, get a coach, trainer, read, learn about what your goals are and how to get there.

  1. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
  2. Read: Trained SMARTER not HARDER
  3. Minimal Effective Does

Realise the importance of rest and relaxation of the mind and body

  1. The Importance of Sleep
  2. The Importance of Night Routines
  3. Controlling Reactivity
  4. 80/20 Stress Analysis

Make small sustainable changes to your nutrition, again read, learn, get a coach and if the stuff doesn’t work for you then change it

  1. Optimal Eating Times
  2. Why Body Fat % is a Stupid Measurement
  3. A Calorie is not a Calorie is not a Calorie

A quote to leave you on:

“You’ll get the same results you’ve always got by doing the same things you’ve always done.”

Exercise Physiologist

Jake Holness

“Knowledge withheld is knowledge wasted”

Comments or questions?

Feel free to reach out by emailing