Archives for March 2011

‘Time’ for a workout!

After an exercise filled week, which consisted of three 10 mile runs and four very different weights programmes, I found myself thinking about how much time the average person actually has, to commit to exercise. As ‘time’ or a lack of it, can be used as a reason not to exercise, sometimes a very valid reason and other times not so valid and more of an excuse, I thought I’d ask the question, is it an excuse for you? There are the obvious factors to take into consideration, so I decided to work out a few statistics to leave one simple question on everyone’s mind. So here goes……

  • There are 168 hours in a week.
  • We sleep on average about 8 hours a night, which is 56 hours a week.
  • If we work a 9 hour day, that’s 63 hours a week.
  • On average we spend 1 hour 30 minutes eating each day, which is 10 hours 30 minutes a week.
  • If you deduct the above from 168 hours in a week you are left with an average 38 hours a week spare for getting dressed, travel, baths/showers etc.
  • In those 38 hours the average person manages to watch 3-4 hours of TV a day, which is a massive 21-28 hours a week and reads magazines/newspapers for an average of 5 hours and 30 minutes a week.

When you look at those figures, ask yourself what your body gains from watching up to 28 hours a week of TV or over 5 hours a week of gossip in magazines or newspapers?

If someone asked you the question….. ‘If you could gain extra years on your life, would you take it?’ I’m pretty sure the majority of people would say yes. By exercising regularly and keeping your body fit and healthy, inside and out, you can have a longer healthier life. With this in mind, think about those 38 hours of spare time each week and the amount of time you sit around watching TV. It only takes an hour of exercise 2-3 times a week to stay fit and healthy, so knowing you can lead a longer, healthier life, the question should be, out of them 38 hours can you really not spare 3 of them a week for exercising? Or, can you not cut down the less important activities, such as computer games and TV, to make time for more important activities to stay fit and healthy?

Ask yourself this……do you REALLY not have time to look after your body or is it just a convenient excuse?

Think about it!

‘Beach Body’ or just Bad Posture?

We’re now at that time of year when we start to think about our holidays and more specifically, how we look in a swimming costume or shorts on the beach! Many of us are concerned by the shape of our bodies and decide now is the time to put it right before the summer starts. But, are we doing the right exercise to achieve our improved ‘Beach Body’?

After spending the majority of my life in and around changing rooms and gyms during my football career, I’ve noticed a worrying habit which is more noticeable in men. The term ‘beach weights’ springs to mind, which is used a lot amongst men that are training to look and feel good about their body in the summer. You might think, “what is wrong with that?” and the answer is……nothing, as long as they are done in the right way! The problem is, most men will only work the muscles that are visible in a mirror and ignore those that they can’t notice any changes in. That means they concentrate on the chest, biceps and abdominal muscles but ignore the muscles of the back. During their training they will more than likely notice the chest getting bigger, biceps bulging more and abdominals looking more prominent and toned, but what is it doing to their posture?

By exercising the muscles of the front of the body, they will tone/tighten up, but without working the muscles of the back this can cause big postural problems and actually looks unbalanced. This causes a kyphotic posture shown in the picture to the left. Whilst the front muscles are tightening, the back muscles are loosening/lengthening and becoming weaker, shown above by the widening of the shoulder blades. This ends up changing the body into what we see too often in men around gyms; shoulders pulled forwards, arms always bent out to the sides and hunched backs, definitely a sign of weight training gone wrong! If the upper body was treated as a whole and weights were performed equally and balanced between the front and the back of the body, the outcome would be much more beneficial. Not only would the body be defined and toned but the posture would be better with a more natural stance. The alignment of the spine would be more what it should be, holding the shoulders back in place and keeping the upper back upright. This would stop the hunching known as kyphosis. Also the arms would sit straight and nicely down to the sides of the body with the palms facing each other, not facing back causing the rounded shoulders. Overall the body ends up looking unnatural and not a beach body to be proud of!

Below I have added a few pictures of  very different bodies, one with a good, balanced posture and a couple without. You may well recognise the person in one of the pictures and I’m sure you’ll also recognise which is the more balanced body. Can you spot the well trained, balanced body?

     

Yes, you got it…..Ryan Reynolds(far left picture) has trained his body to look great and very natural. The other two pictures you can see the chest and biceps have been concentrated on which has left the shoulders pulled forwards with the palms of the hands facing backwards. They look a lot less balanced! The moral of the story is; make sure your resistance workouts are balanced, working all the muscles of the body NOT just those that are more noticeable.

Here are a 3 quick tips:

  1. Muscles work in pairs. One shortens/contracts (known as the ‘agonist’) and the opposite lengthens/extends (known as the ‘antagonist) to be able to perform a movement (eg. Biceps and Triceps). Therefore, always work both muscles equally.
  2. When training and making sure you are working all muscles of the body, be sure to keep the repetitions and sets the same for both the anterior(front) and posterior(back) of the body, unless you are trying to correct an imbalance, such as kyphosis. For example, don’t think the abdominals are more important than the lower back and perform three sets of ab exercises and only one exercise for the lower back. Equal them out to three sets on each.
  3. Lastly, one major problem most people have is that they don’t work the full length of the muscle and lift a weight that is too heavy for a full range repetition(this is a man thing, trying to prove their strength). This leads to muscles shortening and the posture suffering. The main culprit is the biceps which is noticeable from not being able to straighten the arms fully. Always lift a weight you can perform the full range of the exercise without losing form during the exercise.

Taking short cuts in the gym can have a dramatic effect on the way we move, feel and look and should not be something you plan on doing if you are serious about getting a toned, healthy body that not only looks great but works well in function too. I hope this blog helps you get the beach body you want for the summer of 2011.