Is your workout working for you?Or are you doing yourself more harm than good with it?
The fitness industry has no doubt undergone revolutionary changes over the last decade in our country. The appearance of gyms in every street, the availability of jobs for trainers, fitness managers, physiotherapists and so on has created an increasing awareness about the need of the hour. The easy accessibility of a fitness facility for most people particularly in the cities has encouraged them to start exercising, or so I would like to believe!
Are the Gyms keeping pace with advancement in science and training techniques? Are trainers qualified enough to make informed choices about the exercises they choose for you? Are gyms offering the right kind of training or could these very exercises be harming you?
“One size does not fit all” is an axiom that holds good for fitness training as for everything else in life. Each individual has to have a specific goal in mind and train accordingly taking into consideration age, gender, medical history, lifestyle, fitness level, time available for fitness and a host of other variables.
Training – There are hundreds of exercises that are demonstrable, but do you need to try all of them? Which ones are safe? Which ones are required? Which ones are relevant? How does one make that choice? Ideally, a trainer should be able to. I am not sure all of them do however. Sometimes, clients are made to go through unnecessary even damaging exercises in the hope of producing quicker results. The consequences are faced by the client. Sometimes injury or even over-training.
Most often, we find the repercussions of incorrect and inappropriate exercises do not become evident immediately. It may be years before your knees show wear and tear after incorrect squatting or running technique. This is not to say one has to avoid performing these exercises altogether. What it means is that before trying these potentially injury causing moves, training specific muscle groups involved and strengthening them and while executing these moves, watchful training, correction and advice as to how to prevent injury is required from your trainer.
Some clients need to be trained even to walk or run correctly. One would imagine that walking and running comes naturally to us humans. Apparently not! This is especially so of those individuals who have never participated in any kind of physical activity in their childhood or youth. The muscles seem to have forgotten how to function optimally. As a result, they tend to injure themselves even with the simplest of exercises. They need extra care and a vigilant approach to training to prevent such injuries and further set-back.
– If you are new to weight training, ensure you are taught all the basic exercises by a qualified professional before moving on to the more advanced ones.
– Request assistance whenever required.
– If something does not feel right, stop. In your anxiety to see quick results, don’t be lured into gimmicks and unhealthy strategies.
– Ask questions. It’s your body, you need to understand exactly which muscle you are working. Understand how to execute the exercise perfectly and how you could possibly do it wrong.
(For instance, the Squat is a wonderful exercise to tone, shape and build the lower body. There are several ways one could do it wrong however, particularly if one has weak thigh muscles. A tall person will have difficulty in performing the squat while keeping the ‘knees behind the toes’ (as s the traditional instruction for a squat) due to his anatomical variation. Being tall raises the center of gravity and increases the length of his levers (the legs, in this case). This tends to cause the knees to travel beyond the toes and the body to tilt forward to compensate for balance and an attempt to lower the center of gravity while performing the squat. How do you circumvent this problem? The solution is multifold. Besides constant supervision to ensure correct form, it is important to first strengthen the leg muscles in isolation before attempting an exercise like the Squat. Performing selective quadriceps, hamstring and gluteus muscle strengthening exercising before incorporating a compound exercise like the squat will prevent injury to the knee-joint.
The add-ons – Massage, sauna and steam do not help you reduce fat! If fat loss is your goal, work hard, include cardio and weight training into your routine and watch your diet. Lying around, being massaged may be wonderfully relaxing but it certainly does nothing for your fat however tempting it may be to believe so.
Diet – You need to include a well-balanced, nutritious diet to get the best benefits from your fitness routine. Extreme low-calorie diets are not sustainable and often have adverse effects. The fat will come back as soon as you start consuming more calories. You need to understand food from a holistic perspective and how to eat as a lifestyle not as a temporary weight loss strategy. You don’t need someone planning out menus for you. What you need is to understand food and implement your own choices.
Supplements and fat burners – What’s wrong with healthy wholesome food? Protein supplements are almost the norm in every gym these days. Get a nutritional analysis done to ascertain how much protein you actually consume and only if insufficient, and you are unable to include protein from natural foods should you supplement protein powders. A recreational exerciser definitely does not need it. Understand how to include various protein and fat options in your diet. Consuming protein powders does not directly translate as an increase in muscle mass. Sensible training is what does. Creatine, glutathione and other isolated amino acids have been widely propagated. Long-term safety has not been confirmed. Randomly taking supplements and fat burners does more harm to your health or fitness. Besides, they are expensive. Investing in healthy holistic food is a more sensible option especially when one thinks of it as a “lifestyle”.