The Exercise Issue
'Ability will unveil itself as skill is acquired', Mitch Simon an instructor of mine once told me.
Believe or not, exercising is not a hobby or habit, but a skill. Skills have to be honed and practiced to be successful. Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach once said: "Practice does not make perfect...Perfect Practice makes Perfect!" Truly, to achieve the body you want, there is a list of essential ingredients which have to be combined, put into practice, and perfected. Simply showing up clocking minutes on the treadmill, counting reps and sets, or prancing around an aerobics class is not enough. As detailed in our 13 Priorities, Physical exertion is only one ingredient of exercise, whereas overall Health & Fitness must include Eating and Mental training as well.
Exercise is defined as: 'An activity requiring physical effort to sustain or improve health and fitness.' Fitness is defined as: 'The condition of being physically fit and healthy. So, to be Fit and Healthy, you have to engage in Exercise. You knew that, right? In the Biomechanics arena, we define an exercise simply as: 'Force applied to a motor pattern.' Basically, we choose a movement, say a treadmill, a pushup, a squat, a biceps curl, and then add some form of resistance, be it your bodyweight, or some external apparatus like a dumbbell or a machine to be the force. Add to that things like form, goals, duration, tempo, reps, sets, and a bunch of other manipulative variables, and you have a workout.
Most people engage in Exercise for 3 primary reasons:
1. To Lose Weight
2. To Build Muscle
3. Increase the Quality of Life and Longevity
There are many other reasons, very important reasons to be sure, but these cover 90% of worker-outers.
The Conventional Roadblock
For 40 odd years now, exercise has been divided into two distinct areas: Cardio and Weights. Cardio burns fat and Weights build muscle, so you've been told. This is a mistake for a number of reasons, or to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: "Big Mistake .... HUGE!" The first is that all exercise is in fact Resistance Training. We need muscular effort to overcome the resistance of the treadmill, stairclimber, to jump over a rope, or propel ourselves forward when running down the street, (traditionally labeled as Cardio) just as we need muscular effort to lift a dumbbell, perform a lunge, or a pushup (traditionally labelled as Weight Training). Both involve overcoming resistance and having a motor pattern, and most importantly, use the skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems in a synchronized fashion to perform the exercise.
The difference between this Cardio and Weight stuff is simply the Intensity and demand on these various bodily systems. Load, range, tempo, and other variables come into play, but the important to put into practice is what I call a Spectrum of Exercise Intensity, or more simply: choose some exercises that involve short range, low resistance such as walking, some exercises that involve greater range and higher resistance such as squats, and everything in between. Choosing or neglecting one end of the spectrum is where most people go wrong and end up in a rut or sustain an overuse injury.
So Many Options
If you've looked around a gym nowadays, there is a lot more equipment than just weights. Although most of it is indeed gravity based, (machines, dumbbells, cable systems), you will see rubberized tubing, people swimming, (which is great resistance training btw), and even compressed air or inflatable stuff. The point is, it's all Resistance Training. Try something new or hire a fitness professional to show you some new tricks.
Optimal Fitness Pyramid
As you read above and will see below, variation in not only exercises, but your entire workout program is a must. This Pyramid details the 4 areas areas of intensity to incorporate.
Click HERE to enlarge
Top Exercise Mistakes
The Same Old Thing. 30 minutes of the Elliptical, a six mile jog, and hitting the bench press every time you have time to exercise, yields limited results and are overuse injuries waiting to happen.
Too Much Too Often. Variation is truly the key to exercise. An hour on the treadmill or lifting heavy every time you hit the gym is injury and limited results. The Fitness Pyramid in the above section lays out a simple plan of action.
Not Enough Low Intensity Exercise: Walking, Hiking, Cycling, and Swimming are just as important as the heart pounding through your chest, sweat streaming off your body stuff.
Not Pushing It: Brief, high intensity bouts lasting 15-30sec. Sprint, Jump, High Intensity Intervals are a must once every 6-10 days is a must.
Not Realizing Eating Habits Are More Important: 80% of your success in obtaining the body you want involves getting a hold of your eating habits.
Doing the Same Exercises the Same Way: Without Progression and Variation, your exercise time becomes meaningless.
Focus, the Forgotten Ingredient. Just going through the motions by simply counting reps, or distractions like reading, watching tv, or listening to music take away from the exercise experience. Focusing on what your doing, and why, really diving inside the body, is the essential aspect of a successful workout.
Too Many Stupid Supplements: fat burners, carb-block, and those bloating- inflating bodybuilding potions 'n powders do more harm than good to the body than the temporary results they yield. There are no shortcuts.
Ever wonder what you should incorporate into your fitness process, which exercises might be a little on the high-risk side? Here are links to just some of the exercises analyzed on the UC site. Test your knowledge or learn a bit more about these guys.
Everyone who exercises seems to have their own view of Stretching: before a workout, after, during, it's an exercise ritual.
Three Things About Stretching You Need To Know:
1. It does not prevent injury
2. It does not prevent muscle soreness
3. Stretching beyond your limit or a joint's limit sets you up for injury
The problem with the words 'Stretching' and 'Flexibility' or even 'Limber' is that they have become marketing terms at the expense of Science and not addressing appropriate needs for the body. It seems that most who stretch, (or those exercise professionals who prescribe static stretching for their clients), do not understand the Physiology of the nervous system which oversees and regulates the lengthening and contracting of muscle, the resulting tendons, ligaments, bursae, and cartilage also involved, causes of chronically stressed tissue, the ramifications of stretching something that maybe doesn't need stretching, or other options available that may address the issue more effectively.
As with many things in life, everyone seems to think that more [range] is better and that includes joint range beyond what is required of and accepted by the body. Nothing could be further from the truth! Forcing range beyond established skeletal limits to increase flexibility is detrimental and actually promotes injury. I have a saying: "Just because you can go there doesn't mean you should." Truth be told, choosing the right type of resistance training exercises appropriately progressed, varied often, through proper and unexaggerated range of motion on regular basis, accomplishes the goal of improving and maintaining optimal range of motion by stretching and contracting muscle efficiently.
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Nutrition Fact ... Oatmeal
So I get a lot of questions on oatmeal. People seem to love it for some strange reason, and really, I don't know why because it's bland and takes a lot of dressing up (brown sugar, cream, fruit, salt, honey, etc.) just to make it edible. Maybe it's a comforting childhood memory of a warm bowl of oatmeal at the kitchen table on a cold winters morning surrounded by family, I don't know. We get claims it lowers cholesterol, has tons of fiber, and scrubs our arteries, BUT it has its own form of gluten, and is loaded with Pytates. SO, here are the facts about oatmeal. Hint...not as great as you think!
Read More Here
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-Bill The Urban Caveman