Day: February 11, 2013

Pain vs. Pleasure: how do you workout?

Many gym goers will go to their gym, run to the weight room, sit on a machine and read a news paper and think they are working out and doing their body good. I would say that yes they have taken the first step to getting healthier…they have gotten to the gym. But my question would be are they really making any changes in their body that will make them healthier and improve their quality of life? Here are some tips to help you make sure you are getting the most out of your workout time:

  • Make sure to change into proper workout clothes you can sweat in.
    In order to really push your body and workout so that you make progress you need to wear the appropriate attire to accomplish this. This means actually get a locker and change out of your diesel jeans and into clothes that allow you to move freely and perform exercises without hindering your range of motion. Changing into gym clothes should be able to change your mind set and allow you to focus on the tasks at hand…starting a great workout.
  • Make sure your muscles reach fatigue; this is not a comfortable feeling.
    When working out using weights to goal is usually to over load the muscles; this in turn will break down the microscopic muscle fibers. If your body senses a weaker muscle because of the broken down muscle fibers it will try and build up bigger and stronger muscle fibers to resist the stimulus. Your body will continue to do this each time you add enough weight to stress the muscle fibers, so as we workout we need to make sure that we have heavy enough weights to stress our muscles safely. If you can do a chest press or any weighted exercise and hold a conversation with a friend or space off and think about your day the weight is not heavy enough. Your weight is heavy enough to create a positive adaptation to your muscles when you need to concentrate on that movement specifically; recruiting all the muscle fibers to finish all of your reps…and when I say finish all of your reps it should be just barely finish all of your reps. You should look for the last two or so reps to be very challenging where your muscles you are working are shaking and/or burning. This feeling can be slightly uncomfortable but if you are looking to change your body and muscle tone you need to create this feeling.
  • Make sure that you are challenging your heart muscle.
    Your heart is composed of different muscle than your body; it is cardiac muscle. It is very fatigue resistance and involuntary…it is the only muscle in your body that will never stop working as long as you live; which is why we need to make sure that we are working it out properly and ensuring that it is functioning at full capacity. In order to really work the heart muscle we need to make sure we are stressing it; as it needs stress from exercise in order to become a stronger pumping machine. When doing cardio (standing for cardiovascular training – training the heart, blood vessels and lungs) we need to make sure that we are creating enough stress on this system. Sitting on a bike and reading a paper is not enough stress to create an adaptation needed or wanted. At the bare minimum you should try and get to the point where holding a conversation is hard (you should have somewhat labored breathing) and you should be sweating (a by product or work is heat, your bodies defense against raised by temperature is to sweat). If you have never been able to achieve these two tasks while doing cardio try upping your RPM’s or resistance. Going for a longer time at the same pace will not get you to sweat and have labored breathing as much as increasing the intensity or resistance.
  • Make sure your workouts are finished with you being tired
    This is an easy point to discus, in order for your body to grown and get better at anything you must give it enough stimuli to change. This stimulus could be adding more weight to your workouts, increasing the intensity of your elliptical, play a better squash player than yourself, try a more advanced yoga class, swim more laps in the same amount of time…and the list could go on and on. Just remember that by the time you finish your day at the gym you should have known that you were at the gym, you should be putting your gym clothes in one of those plastic bags because they are sweaty and you should have some muscle fatigue where your body feels comfortably tired.

Remember that the goal of going to the gym should be to provide your body with a stimulus and hope for some kind of adaptation. This could be playing squash and working on foot speed, grabbing some dumbbells and hoping to increase your bicep size or swimming in the pool and hoping to increase your speed. The underlying theme is that you should want your body to change for the better; and this will not happen if the effort is not there. This effort is not always comfortable but nothing worth having ever comes to use easily.