Are you cheating yourself out of a good workout? It is good to have goals for your workout programs. It does not matter whether you are working out to prepare yourself for an upcoming sports season or going to the local gym for general fitness. When you are involved in a sport the coach will usually provide instruction and motivation to help you reach your goals. Most individuals will have to have an internal motivation to help push oneself to reach fitness goals that are long-term and short-term. A long-term goal may be to lose weight over the next 6-12 months while a short-term goal may be to increase overall strength over a three-month period. Regardless of the time frame, efficient workouts are important to reach goals in any exercise programs. Listed below are common practices individuals in local gyms or high school workout rooms do that may prevent quality workouts, which make reaching long-term and short-term goals less likely.
This person comes to the gym to talk more than workout. He or she may get on a stationery bike with no tension and ride for 20 minutes while reading the latest magazine.
Tip - Measuring heart rate during the exercise will help give objective guidelines to keep intensity high if that is a goal for the day. Using a formula 220 - age then taking 60-85% of that number will give a target heart rate range. Many gyms have a chart on the wall making it easier to calculate. An example of an 18yr old wanting an intense workout for the day on a bike would be 220 - 18yrs = 202, 202 x .6 (60%) = 121 beats/min, 202 x .85 (85%) = 172 beats/min. The target heart rate range would be 121 - 172 beats/min. An intense workout would require the heart rate to be in the high 160s while a moderately intense workout would have a heart rate in the range of 140 -150 beats/min. It is good to have some workouts in the intense range and the moderate range depending on the long and short-term goals.
- Curls for the lifter
This individual will typically do three different exercises. A bench press, lateral pull down, and bicep curls. He or she is usually looking to impress the opposite sex by concentrating on a couple of exercises with too many sets and reps. This lends itself to injury and having a rounded upper body due to working one set of muscles without working the opposing group.
Tip - For a single workout, choose 6-8 different exercises working opposing muscle groups. If the goal for the day is to work on upper body strength performing a chest press, upper body row, lateral pull down, seated shoulder press, biceps curl, and triceps extension will satisfy a balanced program for the day. Another way to look at it is for every push exercise (i.e., chest press) do a pull exercise (i.e., upper body row) to keep a balanced program.
- Exodus exerciser
This person shows up late for an aerobics class or leaves during the cool down. She or he thinks they're not get anything out of a warm up or cool down. The purpose of a warm up is to get the core body temperature up so the main exercise is done at maximal efficiency and to help prevent injuries. The cool down helps in recovery and can help with after exercise soreness that may develop.
Tip - Think of a warm up the way you would treat a brand new sports car. It would not be wise to start the car and immediately take it up to 55 miles per hour, especially on a cold morning. In the long run, this will cause extra wear and tear on the car. A good warm up indicator is a light sweat on the forehead after 5-7 minutes of activity. A cool down has some of the same benefits of injury prevention and less muscle soreness. Slamming on the breaks of our sports car going at 55 miles per hour can have the same negative impact.
- Momentum lifter
This person is interested in lifting the maximal amount of weight regardless of form. He or she typically will do a bench press while arching their back on a supine bench while bouncing it off his chest. He can lift more weight but he is not targeting his chest muscles and triceps when his back is arched off the bench and it bounces off his chest. You can imagine the strain this puts on the lower back doing this technique. Bicep curls performed standing with knees straight while arching his back is another type of momentum lift. Again, this will enable more weight to be lifted but there is a significant strain on the lower back and it is not targeting the biceps anyhow.
Tip - When doing a bench press, keep the back on the bench by drawing in the navel and squeezing the buttocks together. This helps engage the smaller muscles in the back while maintaining a pelvic neutral position. When doing standing curls bend the knees to take pressure of the lower back and keep the body still except for the movement of the arms. Breathing correctly will help eliminate momentum caused by holding of the breath or more commonly called a "Valsalva Maneuver" which is another incorrect technique used by momentum lifters. The most efficient way to breathe is in through the nose and out through the mouth. Inhaling is done just before the start of the exercise while exhaling is done with the start of the exercise. After the initial repetition, it is suggested to follow an inhale on the lift and an exhale on the return to the starting position.
Following these guidelines above will help you get the best possible workout without cheating yourself or wasting time trying to reach your goals.
Rick Philbin, MBA, M.Ed., ATC
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Last Updated: Friday September 07, 2012 11:17:54
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