Fitness Article – Pick and Mix

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It gets too easy – There are tons of articles on the right workout and if it were only that simple to just buy a wonder machine and with eight minutes a day create and sculpt the kind of body that you see in infomercials. But the sad fact is that all of these don’t work, not in the long term and not with the kind of results that we would like. Maybe we would get leaner wallets but definitely not better physiques.

One-size-fits-all There’s no one size fits all training, yet there’s a ton of noise about which workout is superior and which form of exercise is best. You see the bodybuilders saying that they have great bodies and are comparable to Greek gods with bronze and sculpted muscles, while then you have the marathon runner making snide remarks at the bodybuilders who huff and puff after walking off the treadmill set at walking speed. And the Yoga practitioner that advocates supple and flexible muscles that wont cramp up and get injured from overuse and running. So who is right ?

A fitness buffet – It comes down to the concept of a buffet, albeit a fitness buffet. In a buffet, we all have limited stomach capacities, yet there’s a ton of food that we would like to eat and keep eating. And we would no sooner want to put as much of those in our stomach as possible. But if you keep eating the same stuff it doesnt benefit you that much, i mean theres only so much sashimi you can eat before going green right? So we should be sensible in our approach to fitness as well, to be able to pick and mix from the best of each camp for a beneficial and effective training. So what are the camps ?

Bodybuilders – This is mainly for those who seek physical shape and strength. This is mainly caricaturized as the hulking bodybuilder that’s posing at the mirror any time the opportunity presents itself.

But muscular mass is important, not just in day to day activities like refilling the water cooler but maintaining muscle tone to prevent ostearthritis and maintain bone density as well as burn fat. At rest a person with more muscles burns more calories per hour than a someone with less muscles and that is quite an important fact to remember when losing weight.

However, when we talk about muscles and alot of women get turned off as they imagine a female bodybuilder with rippling muscles (and probably a husky voice). But that’s far from the truth, women do not put on muscles easily but they do get the benefits of strength gain as well as stronger bones (losing alot of calcium compared to men at age 35). As mentioned they also burn more calories even when sedentary and the increased muscle tone helps greatly in appearance. (more so than shoulder pads).

Marathoners – Often known as the Energizer bunny. Marathoners are capable of sustained low intensity physical activity for very very long period of time. The effects of the cardiovascular exercise are obvious.

One would be an improved resting heart rate (bragging rights), which would mean that you can do alot more activities without getting tired, and remember that muscle is metabolic in nature, meaning that it burns calories just to exist. If you make someone that carries alot of muscle run, you would probably get a huge caloric expenditure and the heart working overtime to pump the blood around the huge network of muscles which would cause instant fatigue. So Cardiovascular activity is an important aspect of fitness , not just in getting to look better in a shirt but to feel better and go about day to day activities efficiently without feeling tired or winded.

Studies have also shown that long sustained physical activity are also good for people who seek to burn fat. As the body would switch to burning glucose in the blood to fat after a long period (after the 30 minute mark).

The Yoga Practitioner – Flexibility is also another very important aspect in fitness. Mainly due to the fact that flexible muscles are less likely to get injured. The benefits of flexibility are important, as flexible muscles could go through a greater range of motion and would aid greatly in posture as well.

Injury prevention is important in the long run if you would like a decent fitness lifestyle, it also makes sure that when you get up you don’t have the “can’t turn my neck” syndrome when you wake up in the mornings or sore backs, injured knees as well as injured shoulder. The joints are as strong as the muscles that bind them, and when the muscles are tight and unforgiving, the joints would eventually take most of the pounding from exercise and eventually rebel and start disintegrating and usually when we get older we tend to lose that flexibility , so its very important to maintain this to prevent injury as well as improve performance in ay to day activities be it lifting weights or running a marathon, supple joints are key.

Basically, a sensible fitness program would incorporate all three of these camps. And even though it might seem intuitive that we do all three, oftentimes, we do not and tend to favor jogging or lifting weights or even stretching as our preferred exercise. A sensible approach would be to pick and mix any of these and allocate a sizeable amount of time to them. Very often, people rush into a gym run and do a quick 1 minute stretch and neglect proper stretching or resistance training. Also some people might neglect stretching altogether because it doesn’t have any immediate after effect like the runner high or the feeling of having pumped muscles after a weight lifting session. Also people who tend to favor stretching feel that lifting weights would affect their flexibility and develop “unsightly muscles” but strength and flexibility make a great couple and their union would prevent injury for a long time to come. So while there is no one size fits all workout, we do need to incorporate all three of these into a sensible workout plan and that missing either one would sorely deprive us of the full benefits of having a fitter body. I would go into details on how to best approach each camp, as well as tips and tricks to better manage our time at the gym so that we can allocate a sensible amount of time for each.

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