Fitness should be fun!
Let’s hope you made Day 1 of 2017 a success. Did you make sure to do something to keep yourself and those around you happy and spend time with the people who matter? Today, remember your goals, life goals! Sounds odd, sure but why not think of them that way. Just quickly mine are to put relationships first and make more time for friends, family and home, to encourage, motivate and try help others to feel good, be kind to people without reason and look out for one another and for myself to have some fun every day. OK, OK, I’m hearing you, enough planning and more doing! Exactly what are we going to do to kick butt tomorrow and the next day and then the day after that. Still an introduction to some themes but first up – feel phenomenal.
We’ve all heard about endorphins – our happy hormones that alone should be an incentive to get you up and moving. Exercise obviously improves cardiovascular fitness, builds muscle (guys, big goals and ladies, no not too much but more on this later), creates a positive experience and endorphin rush which in turn improves mood and mental alertness. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So clearly a good reason to take a small part of your day to do some sort of exercise. Time to take a brief look at popular topics in fitness. Popular, yes, so we get some of your attention, but of course I’ll aim to limit any dribble.
Fitness pop culture number 1 – muscle; men want it and women want a smidge, but not too much. Strength training requires a solid program, patience and time. Building muscle, or hypertrophy (training to increase muscle size and density) is much like the good old “building a brick wall” analogy: it requires damage to muscle fibres which stimulate the process of protein synthesis and muscle growth. Have a quick online search yourself of skeletal muscle and the building blocks of muscle fibres and head to the “images” tab. You are literally building your muscle fibres by damage and repair and this process will take time, but much like our goals start small and think big as most good things come with patience and persistence. So, some people may be more able to grow muscle but for the most part, you can be quite certain that the physiques you eye off in the gym are the result of commitment and dedication to training. And ladies, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ve heard this before and it’s true: we don’t have the same levels of testosterone to be bulking up with ease. You’d need to be lifting heavy weights, for way longer than most people care to spend in the gym so I’m dismissing this question the next time someone asks. In fact, you may find that when you are doing more strength training, you actually feel better, “toned” (the cringe factor is there as I don’t like this word either) meaning more muscle and less fat but the scales don’t change and in fact may go up. Muscle is more dense than fat so you’ve got increased muscle density in place of adipose (fat) tissue. That’s a good thing and a win in my books! Don’t worry, I’m sure you look healthier for it. And men, consider yourselves lucky that you’ve got all those amazing “growth and strength” hormones pumping through your blood. Strength training for both sexes helps us feel healthier, more empowered and confident and generally better at daily tasks. Yep, sure is a strange way to think about it but you will kick butt better and more often when you are fitter, stronger and faster.
So size does matter. We all want to be “toned” (ah! there it is again) with less fat and more muscle and hopefully you have a healthy ideal in mind. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes. Fact. Your genetics determine your shape and size but this is not the full story and comparing ourselves to others usually does more harm than good. Genetics might play a role but I can guarantee you that for someone to look good and be healthy, they need to work for it. Moreover, consider that someone might be genetically blessed but can abuse this with poor lifestyle choices. If someone is setting a good example, find out if they are willing to share what works for them. For the most part, people (not all, I’m sure) seem to go into the health and fitness industry with the view of making a difference and have a genuine interest in helping others follow in their path. If that’s the goal and why we are investing our time and energy in health and fitness, communicate! What is it that they do and what can you learn from it? There is likely to be something they are doing you hadn’t thought about.
Let’s turn briefly to training strategies. Quality of movement comes before anything else and learning how to move is the first step. Ok, you knew that. Well it’s you I’m talking to then; it doesn’t hurt to remind any and every one the importance of moving well. Only then do we look at working with higher intensities and increased volumes of work. Got this? Great. Combining high quality movement with strength and speed is our recipe for training longevity. This is why interval training is so popular! By breaking down a workout and focusing on short bursts of repeated work, it is effective, manageable and realistic. If you don’t know what a “Tabata” protocol is, open your browser tab and search. Always incorporate balanced, basic movement patterns such as squatting, pulling, pressing and core strength as these will prevent injuries and in some cases correct imbalances. Take for example, running. Your gluteus maximus (butt) and intrinsic back muscles are fundamental in keeping your body in an upright position. If you neglect back strength and core stability you are asking for trouble with postural imbalances. Likewise, the adductor muscle group (inside thigh) are pivotal in correcting movement patterns as you run (or walk). Do you have a sore back and sore hips? In terms of running, you are very likely to have imbalances in the lower chain which requires strength training to correct. If you are ever looking for help with muscle anatomy and topography, Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body is the go to resource and available online here. Get inquisitive, try to understand which muscles you are working and if you have injuries, why this might be, which helps you train smarter. I’ll be working on a summary of ALL muscles groups, origin and insertion points and muscle actions to help with training. Patience is a virtue as this is lengthy to put together. While still in progress check back for updates on BodiFit’s Muscle Guide. BodiFit is live from early January and there is something suited to everyone so no matter where you are, you can stay on track. No matter how you train, initially, focus on building balance and mobility and aim to build strength through neural connections and muscular coordination, noting that building from the inside out is a much better approach in the long term. Going away over the next few weeks and can’t get to the gym? Head to BodiFit’s Bodyweight Workouts for a very simple yet effective 14 days of BodiFit Bodyweight Travel Workouts to keep you moving. These are short and sharp but if you have any queries just shoot through an email. And as the saying goes, keep in mind that tomorrow you’ll wish you started today.
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