Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Basics...2012 Style-Part II

As I mentioned in part I, a mountain of studies have been written in recent years to support burst training as a superior form of cardiovascular training but it has yet to become the mainstream form of cardiovascular exercise.  Why? One reason is that old habits die hard-very hard.

Speaking of hard…burst training is tough! Ah, but it’s so much shorter and that has one very important benefit:
The number one reason why people say they don’t exercise is that they don’t have time.  Burst training puts an end to that excuse. The recommended five to eight bursts will take about twenty minutes to complete and everyone can find twenty minutes especially if they don’t have to be consecutive minutes-and they don’t.  Another reason this hasn’t caught on as quickly as it should have is because of the large, commercial or big box gyms.  The typical big box Gym is
5% free weights, 5% stretching area, 50% cardio machines, 50% weight machines.  Check it out sometime. So this must be what gets you fit or the gym wouldn’t be set up this way.  Wrong. Big box gyms fill their huge spaces with cardio machines and weight machines because people expect a gym to have that type equipment so that’s what they buy and install.  As it turns out, these gyms are banking on the fact that most people are going to drop out their fitness program leaving plenty of space for others to train and without having to provide any real instruction to members.  Machines are just easier.  Change the model every couple of years and add a few bells and whistles (that don’t do a thing to improve your fitness) and most people will believe they just found the missing link that will transform their bodies.  Unfortunately, that is never the case.

Flexibility-No matter how much you squat, bench and deadlift, you’re NOT impressing anyone when you’re always in pain and walk around like a car just ran you over every morning. The more muscular you are, the more prone to inflexibility you can become IF you don’t take steps to maintain your flexibility.  Without adequate mobility, it is difficult to perform exercises with proper form.  Continuing to perform exercises without good form will lead to injuries and/or pain in daily activities as well as in the weight room.  This often leads to dropping out of an exercise program altogether which is the worst thing you can do as far as your aches and pains are concerned.  This is why flexibility is such an important component of fitness. If you’re so tight that your body aches all the time, that is NOT fitness, no matter how much you can bench press.

Strength-The ability to lift heavy things-and move them around-my casual definition of strength.  Strength is the backbone of fitness.  Being able to lift a heavy or moderately heavy object safely and with relative ease, whether it’s a piece of furniture, a growing toddler, or a dumbbell is crucial to remaining healthy and certainly, to remaining fit particularly as one gets older.  This is not the same thing as being able to lift a given weight repetitively for an extended period of time.  That is muscular endurance and to be fit, you must be able to do both.  Many men focus on the heavy lifting while many women focus on lifting lighter weights for many repetitions while they both would be better served by cross training.  Heavy lifting is important for being able to move your body through space, picking up a 50 lb. bag of dog food, or pushing your suitcase into the overhead bin on an airplane.

Muscular endurance- Muscular endurancerequires a different way of training than heavy weight lifting but it also an important component of fitness.Picking up the end of a heavy couch and moving it across the room happens once while hitting a tennis ball with a tennis racket for a couple of hours is an entirely different activity, physiologically speaking.  But as I mentioned above, to be truly fit, one must be proficient in both types of exercise.  Pilates, Yoga, Cardio-barre, and other forms of body weight resistance exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups are important for creating muscular endurance.

Body composition-There are many ways of evaluating body composition.  The medical establishment states that a body mass index (BMI) of over 25.0 [body weight/(height in inches)² x 703] is considered over fat and an unhealthy level of fat.  This method doesn’t always take into account individuals that have a higher than average amount of muscle tissue so that someone with a lot of muscle mass on their frame, might be evaluated as having excess body fat.  There are also people with high body fat levels that meet all the other criteria of fitness, have blood tests results with all normal markers but are just genetically programmed to carry more body fat.  But generally speaking, elevated levels of body fat are an indication of poor fitness.

Skills training-I have often joked that any activity that involved a ball, did not involve me. Or, that the reason I became involved in weight training was because I was too unskilled to participate in sports. While these are both true statements, I believe that what is meant by skills training is the ability and to run, jump, climb and to have what I call a kinesthetic sense or, the ability to have a good awareness of where your body is in space.  Does someone tell you your back is rounded but it feels straight to you? Do you have trouble simply jumping rope without tripping over it? Does your instructor tell you to do an exercise but you have no idea that you’re doing a completely different exercise until he tells you otherwise?  Have you tried to improve your form (not your strength or endurance) and found it nearly impossible to do so?  Spend some time on it.  Watch yourself in the mirror, pay closer attention to the cues you are given and make a concerted effort to move your body deliberately and with purpose and watch your athleticism develop.  If your movement patterns are poor because you're pain or you lack the flexibility to move properly, spend some time with physical therapist and/or a massage therapist and get these issues taken care of.

So are you fit? Spend some time developing your physiological weakness and you will soon meet the definition.

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

If you use the article you are required to activate any links found in the article and the by-line. Please do not use this article in any publication that is not opt-in (spam).


Post a Comment