Friday, August 9, 2013

Total Body Workout

I have been into fitness in one way or another since I was a teenager.  I taught group fitness for 14 years, certifying with:  AFAAAAAI/ISMA , as well as studying ACE.

Now I work out on my own.  I set it as my goal to do what I call the Total Body Workout 2 times a week.  It takes me a little over an hour and I burn around 450 Calories each time.  Even though it’s a Strength Training Workout, my heart rate is in my Target Heart Rate Zone the whole time so I also consider it a cardio workout. The other 4 days of the week I go for a walk/jog, bike ride, work in the yard, or speed-clean the house.
Details Here

In between sets I keep moving—walking around or dancing.  I listen to music that makes it impossible to hold still.  At the end I take time to work on my flexibility, stretching each muscle I worked.

Why Am I Doing This?
It’s important for me to center up on my purpose for exercising before I start.  Even though I’m exercising at home, I can still have thoughts of impressing some vague audience in my head by how hard I work out.   With this mindset, I don’t focus enough on my body’s feedback to know if I am in my zone.  I have a tendency to push myself too hard as evidenced by the workout headaches I get later in the day.  

 However, the opposite is also true.  If I have no purpose my motivation fizzles out.  I wrote about the real purpose that motivates me in my blog post, “Choice:  The CrucialConjunction.”

More specifically, my main purpose for strength and flexibility training is to maintain the Agility I had as a child.  Ease of movement.  Full range of motion.  When I hurt my back a couple of years ago it was a wake up call that I had not been taking the time to strengthen the right muscles at the right intensity.

If my muscles are agile, my daily movement is made much easier.  I can do the things I’m required to do to keep my home running smoothly.  If it hurts too much to do my daily tasks I become irritable about having to do them.  This takes the joy out of giving (Moroni 7:6-8).  Increasing my strength incrementally enables me to have greater joy in the journey.

Injury Prevention
Agility also serves as insurance in the event that I slip on ice or the river rock in my front yard.  I may get into an unforeseen situation at any time where my body is required to respond quickly and automatically to rebalance itself.  Taking time regularly to train it increases that ability and decreases the risk of injury.  This is especially important to me the older I get.

Exchanging Freeloaders for a Reliable Workforce
I view my excess fat stores as freeloading body mass.  Pre-Gadianton Robbers.  
These cells don’t want to work.  They just want to be fed.  And they send “take-out-orders” to my brain:  “More treats please but no we can’t do any work.  We’re watching this good movie on the TV so….” 

I view muscle mass, on the other hand, as a reliable workforce.  These cells want to be fed in order to provide the energy for their working metabolic processes.  When they order food they asks for the complete nutrition menu:  “Yeah, we need some more nutrients in here.  Hey, can we give you a hand with that in the kitchen?”

To the degree I have the tendency to maintain fat I correspondingly need to gain muscle tissue. 
 So if I have excess fat on my tushy, I need to build up the gluts there correspondingly.

Exercising in My Zone
How do I determine what “my zone” is? 

Heart Rate
First, I calculate my maximum heart rate based on my age using a formula:

Maximum Heart Rate = 220-Age

It is recommended that we exercise within 55-85% of that maximum heart rate for at least 20-30 minutes for the best results from aerobic exercise.  I usually do an hour.

Perceived Exertion
I use the Heart Rate reading as a general starting point but then I determine my personalized zone using perceived exertion.  Because my body is different from everyone else's my age to a certain degree and it rotates on a cycle, I need to pay attention to its specific signals.  Some people can and want to exercise harder than others.  And some days I can exercise harder than other days.

Toggling My Workout Intensity
In my Total Body Workout, if I cannot complete 20 repetitions with 8 lbs. because the intensity is too great, I have a few choices:

Decrease the dumbbell weight
Decrease range of motion
Increase pauses between reps

Perceived Exertion:  First signs of exercising too hard:
Brain fog—the first signs of a headache
Want to quit

If I can easily complete 20 repetitions with 8 lbs. and feel very little sacrifice, I do the opposite:

Increase the dumbbell weight
Increase range of motion
Decrease pauses between reps
I do not change the number of reps or sets.

Perceived Exertion:  First signs of exercising too easy:
Thoughts that I don't like exercising that much

Staying in my zone is crucial to incorporating my fitness goals with the rest of my life.  I don't live my life to workout.  Rather, I workout so I can live my life more fully.  I don’t want to work out in the morning and be done for the day.  I want my workouts to increase my energy so I can accomplish all of my other responsibilities with an agile and happy step.

Monitoring my body during exercise is one way to determine my zone.   But it is more important for me to monitor the delayed effects of that day’s exercise on my body.  I usually can take the pain of sacrifice in the moment.  No pain, no gain, right?  Perhaps this is because I am still in control of it.  I can stop at any time.  

The problem is, I can’t take the pain that comes afterwards...standing up anyway.  This may be headache pain that I can’t control.  It may be an injury.  It is the loss of my general balance.  

My appetite control center is hijacked.  I can’t avoid the fact that my body is demanding LOTS OF SUGAR RIGHT NOW!   And then, inevitably I crash.  This usually goes into the next day.  In order to recover more fully I need more rest.  This swings me to the other side of the pendulum.  Instead of running faster than I have strength, I run slower than I generally have strength to run (Mosiah 4:27).

If my body becomes imbalanced after exercise, then I know I worked too hard.  Being stronger than I currently am may indeed be my goal.  But trying to achieve that goal too quickly has always ended me up with injuries which have slowed my overall progression.  

Safety vs. Contraindication
Safety is all about keeping my balance through the full range of motion of any exercise.  I do not want my knees to be bowing outward in the middle of a squat.  The joint needs to in alignment with my foot and remain above my ankle.

Contraindication is basically running faster than I have strength.  I’m lifting too much which causes an imbalance of movement.  I may compensate with a different muscle group that was never intended to bear so much weight.  If I repeat a contraindicated movement long enough, I will sustain an injury.  Thus it’s important to make sure I’m doing each movement correctly from the beginning.

Body Core
The key to ensure I am supported correctly through the full range of motion of any exercise is to strengthen my core.  This not only includes my abs (rectus abdominis, tranverse abdominis, and obliques) but also my pelvic floor. 

Gynecologists teach pregnant women to practice Kegel exercises in order to increase pelvic floor strength.   This muscle group assists with support throughout the pregnancy and in labor and delivery.   I have found that a strong pelvic floor is one of the MVPs of core stabilization for any weight-bearing activity.  With each strength conditioning exercise, I focus on engaging my core, holding it isometric throughout the set.  

With these core muscles activated during muscular movement, I am less likely to be imbalanced in any other body region.  So I'm also less likely to sustain injuries from contraindicated exercise.

Lastly, I remember to breathe.  I’m holding my core in, not my breath.  Getting enough oxygen during any kind of workout is crucial.    Oxygen supports the process of supplying energy to working muscles as well as sustaining all the other living systems in the body during exercise.  Need air.