Exercising the Wrong Way

Exercise the right way round.

Many people are just doing their exercise all the wrong way around. No I don’t mean that you need to sit the other way on the exercise bike! What so many people do, is that they exercise in the wrong order or the wrong way. Let’s look at what most do step by step and see what might need to change.

So many people will arrive at the gym and do a few stretches to warm up. Not a bad thing to do – though it’s important to remember that it’s not meant to be a ferocious pull on your hamstring/quads/ lats that stops just short of ripping your muscle in two! Be very careful when using leverage, such as putting your leg up on a rail to stretch hamstrings, very easy to overdo it. It should be gentle and progressive and held for at least 8 seconds (count it off, it’s longer than you might think). Remember it’s not a competition with that annoying guy from accounts; people have different flexibilities. Just let your body be your guide.

Then what the majority of people will do is go into their cardiovascular routine for half an hour or so. They’ll do their workout of bike/treadmill/ rower (in whatever order) and build up a sweat and get their heart rate up. Then they’ll go straight into the resistance work – the free weights or resistance machines. All sounds good I hear you say….BUT now they’ve worked out and got their heart rate up their body is in an Aerobic state and yet they’re doing weights, anAnaerobic activity.

In a nutshell (and without getting all technical and too biochemical) aerobic activity is sustained activity and burns either glycogen, the body’s short term energy store, or fat along with oxygen (hence the breathing hard).
By contrast, anaerobic exercise burns fuel without oxygen and generally produces more power and mass in muscles if done in short bursts.
The key here, is that once your body goes into an Aerobic state it takes a while to drop out of it! So… the key, if you’re doing your weights to build power and bulk, is to do that FIRST (after the stretches).

So to get the best from your routine, try this
1 Stretches
2 Weights and resistance work
3 Warmup
4 Cardiovascular training
5 Warmdown

If you cast your mind back to the weightlifting on TV, did the contestants come out already panting as though they’d just got off the treadmill? No, they knew for them it’s all about anaerobic function. So take a leaf out of their book. Do your weights in short bursts and before your cardiovascular work. You’ll get the most out of your work to build bulk and strength AND be more efficient into the bargain.

There’s some good reading on wikipedia on this if you’d like to know more.
Very soon we’ll look at the different types of, and benefits of, phased training such as interval and something called, I kid you not, Fartlek training (stop sniggering at the back there)

Til’ then have fun and keep up the good, aerobic or anaerobic, work.

yours in health
Dr Neil