How to exercise safely and change your body as you go
I'm not going to blind you with science
I'm not going to scare you or stress you
What I want to do is help you achieve your goals without putting you off exercise or the gym.
Fist of all it is true that cardio is not the only important part of exercise. Losing weight or fat is very simple - it is a simple matter of energy calculation - are you taking on more energy than you are expending?
In other words, are you a net consumer, or net expender of energy?
Obviously we want to get you to be the latter, which means you need to calculate what you take in and what you expend.
OK so that is fine and we can do that. If you take into account that sleeping takes around 50 calories per hour for an average man and 40 for an average woman. And that your office life - if you have one - burns about 100 calories per hour for an average weight man in their thirties and about 90 for a woman, you can begin to understand how you can burn more energy than you consume.
So now we have a simple sum - the food we eat minus the energy we expend in a normal day. We can easily make ourselves a net expender by cutting calories in the diet by reading labels and keeping to a limit.
In my example I use the following:
1000 calories at work, 400 sleeping and 1000 at the gym.
So I can have 2400 calories each day, which I can track from labels and recipe books.
So now all we need do is calculate how we can burn those calories in the gym.
Well it is true that lifting weights is a great calorie burner - the proof is easy to see as calories are just energy and lifting weights gives us a simple calculation for burning of energy. Distance x Force = Energy. So a 10 kg weight lifted 1m gives ua a figure for energy. Without going into too much detail, the figure is 23.4 calories.
So 10 reps of 10 KG over 1m (for if you have long arms) is 234 calories.
Which means 10 reps of 20KG is 468 calories - so you can see how this would add up.
Just before you start lifting weights though, your body requires variety in exercise. This is simply because your body adjusts to a certain stresses and strains, and so we need to keep adjusting the stresses and strains we ask it to endure. We do this only to be sure that every part of our body is kept in shape and evenly trained. Cardio also builds muscle stamina, which is often just as useful as physical strength, so bear in mind every muscle needs two types of exercise to stay effective. I personally also just love the feeling of being exhausted in every way across my whole body.
For each part of our body we should be training for cardio and strength, because our inner organs power our muscles so both our inner organs and muscle/skeleton need to be optimised so that we feel at our best.
It is useful then, to divide your body up into groups and concentrate on exercising each group for both cardio and for strengths.
I personally divide up into arms, legs, back and chest, and each group gets a little cardio and a little strength. I do not concentrate on calves or thighs or biceps etc. To me an arm has to function as a group of muscles and so I exercise it as such. I change the intensity and the action, but never isolate muscles because I consider it unnatural and counter-productive to attaining a healthy, happy body.
For leg strengths I use the leg press, weighted squats and sometimes the exercise bikes on really high weights.
For leg cardio I use the bikes, the cross-trainer, mountain climber and squats and sometimes the treadmill although I prefer just to run.
For chest strengths I use all of the machines in the gym I can - shoulder, pecs, stomach, lower chest.
For chest cardio I use the arm-cycling (upper-body ergometer) machine and the rowing machines as well as high-rep sessions with small weights. The mats allow for great exercises with small weights on your front or back, or simply using press-ups or planks.
For back cardio the mat is also a great place to find exercise, reverse sit-ups, reverse leg lifts. Leg lifts using a horse, bench or fitness block, medicine balls and fit balls. Lots of the machines offer great cardio too, they just require a lower weight and higher rep count. The upper-body ergometer is my personal favourite for back cardio but the rowing machine is definitely a favourite too.
For back strength you can load up resistance on the arm cycler/upper-body ergometer and slow your RPM. You can also add high resistance to the rowing machine. The gym machines are the best area though, as they do not risk injury as easily as the free weights and allow you to perform a full action exercising many of the muscles in the back at once.
For arm cardio, a boxing bag is great because it exercises your muscle groups so naturally and helps you with techniques that are useful in difficult situations. The rowing machine is also great, but king is the arm cycler/upper-body ergometer which really does treat your arms like a bike treats your legs. It makes your shoulders work like your hips and your arm muscles work like your legs. Small weights on the bench or on the machines are also a good way of varying your workout.
For arm strength then free weights really are the most useful tools though. They teach you and your arms to maintain control over large forces and demand concentration in a way that the machines just cannot. They also allow you to change your weights down toward the end of a set to ensure you have exhausted every bit of tissue to the maximum. The gym machines allow you to have a varies circuit without a lot of prep time or having free benches and that definitely has great appeal. Finally you can load up the rowing machine as we discussed doing for your back. This is an exercise that does more for the back and you need to concentrate on form to make the arms work.
If you can keep your energy intake down to the correct level and keep variety with all of the above muscle groups and exercise types then you will lose weight and it is not as hard as it sounds. The difficult bit is getting down to the calculation, once you have done this you will view food in a different way. Is that Mars Bar really worth another 30 reps of 10KGs?