February 10, 2012

Adding Resistance with Little Resistance

Look at her go! She's so
excited about exercise. Too
bad her passion gets in the
way of motivating the
majority of novice exercisers.
 I was recently a part of a two person show at our local fire hall. I was to speak on healthy nutrition and she was a fitness instructor speaking on exercise.  Fortunately, I was following her so I got the luxury of sitting in the back and listening (watching) the instructor's presentation on fitness. Overall, she did a fabulous job focusing on functional exercise versus looking good in a bathing suit. As I watched her I couldn't help but see myself up there about 10 years ago completely excited to share my passion for fitness and offering many exercises that will achieve results.

As I observed the crowd, however, they were less than thrilled with her information. The sheer volume of it was starting to put many off the topic altogether. Even I was getting a little intimidated by watching her bend, balance, pull, stretch, and flex in positions I could hardly even fathom let alone perform.  She was obviously very passionate about exercise and did a great job sharing it....but was it effective? Probably not? Did it motivate many to get into the gym and pump iron? Not really.

This is one of the greatest challenges with the fitness industry's message of "just do it"! Exercise professionals are so "pumped" about exercise, they tend forget that many (if not most) aren't. The majority of people would either prefer to get some fresh air and forgo the stale smells of sweat or just sit on their cozy couch out of the rain and decompress after a stressful day. I don't blame them one bit. So, I thought to myself in a way one thinks about a triple layer chocolate cake, how can resistance training be offered in a way that causes less resistance????
To this day, many people think of
something like this when they think
of the weight room.  You can just
smell the sweat, dust, and mold.
Fortunately, we have come a long
way since then.....

If I were to tell you that you could do only three basic resistance training exercises that would give you the most "bang for your buck" would that be something you might be interest in? If you already go to a fitness center but walk past the weight room looking in the opposite direction, do I have a program for you. You can get in and out in less than 10 minutes.

The secret to quick and easy muscle building is compound exercise. Compound exercise includes more than one joint and, therefore, uses more than one muscle. For example, a leg press (or knee bend) uses both the hip joint and knee joint so you have the bum muscles and thigh muscles included in the motion. A chest press (or push up) uses the shoulder and elbow joint and, therefore, includes the chest, triceps, and front of the shoulder.  If you include only three exercises; seated row, seated chest press, and seated leg press, you have worked the majority of major muscles and can now go home and enjoy yourself (not that weights aren't fun...but I'm sure you can find something funner - is that a word?). 

All you trainers and fitness people out there may be screaming at your computer screens accusing me of overlooking the supportive muscle groups but this program is all about exercise psychology and not science. Unfortunately, the fitness professional tends to focus (dare I say always focuses) on the science of training and not the psychology. Rarely do I hear a fitness professional warn their clients of adding a third exercise session to their week for fear of drop out (truth be told, I've never heard one say this). But according to exercise psychology research, that is an important consideration.

Why would you want to add resistance training to your program?
  1. The leaner the tissue the higher the metabolism...the more calories you are burning just sitting there.
  2. Increased muscular strength will help to decrease injury as you age.
  3. If the muscle isn't used it atrophies (shrinks) over time.
  4. Let's face it, a toned muscle is a good looking muscle.
  5. Strength helps us get through the day without effort.
  6. For any weight loss program, it is the most important component (over cardio exercise).
....just a few considerations without getting into the muscle physiology.

So what exercises do I recommend? Before I move any further, I am - in no way - acting as a personal trainer but as a trained professional recommending exercise. If you are doing resistance training for the first time it is highly recommended to seek out a personal trainer and ask for guidance. Form and technique are the most important part of resistance training. Without it, you are more apt to injure yourself.

Seated Row

Again, another half naked exerciser. He is performing the exercise well, however.
Seated Chest Press

Cute little guy...look at him go! Obviously this is a bare bones example, but the form is correct. He's moving a little too fast mind you.
Seated Leg Press

I apologize for her attire. Trying to find a pic that doesn't have half naked women exercising is a toughie.

Again, I underline the importance of professional coaching if you are going to be doing this for the first time. For novice resistance trainers I always suggest the machines over the free weights because they are user friendly, comfortable, and supportive. They also help you with form and technique and keep you safer than the dumbbells.  Also, let's face it, the gym monkeys are going to be hovering around the free weights and leave the machines alone (I know...I'm stereotyping, but I find it less time consuming).


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