My trainer, Satish Kumar, has been sharing fitness treasures over the years. These are points that have helped me deepen my understanding of how to be fit; the building blocks of fitness that we tend to sideline. I put it down to internalise it. Hope it helps.
Line of gravity
While training the upper body, my trainer shared that the hands and legs have to be parallel or perpendicular to the line of gravity. Eg: while doing chest press on the bench, feet must be firmly grounded and hands must lift straight up.
This is great because when we lift in the direction opposite to the gravity line, we require maximum resistance, therefore making the movement most effective. Eg: the Pectoralis Major muscles are worked out during bench chest press.
Satish further explained that when we are not in the line of gravity i.e. at an angle eg: in leg press, we can lift much more weight. The resistance in this case is relatively less. Trying to lift the same weight with an erect form, may be difficult as the force of gravity stops one from doing so.
Flexibility results in doing an exercise completely. Eg: in bicep curl, the full range of motion includes folding the arms so that the fist moves towards the shoulder. This must be brought down to the starting position where the dumbbell touches the thigh.
When we are unable to do an exercise in the full range of motion, effectiveness is much less. (eg: in bicep curl, often we bring the hands down till our waist and go back up.) This implies lack of flexibility of that body part.
For quick weight loss and results, it is important to do the exercises in the full range of motion. For this one needs to be flexible to move the body.
Often, even after an intense workout, one may not see results because of lack of flexibility. The muscles are working less than their range of motion, thereby being ineffective.
For weight loss, working on flexibility is as important as burning calories.
Putting weights down
I was averse to gymming thinking that weight training would make me too muscular. I enjoyed running on the other hand. The wind in your hair, the ability to increase your pace at will. I learnt over time that running is best complimented with weight training. One needs strong muscles to sustain long runs and weight training helps you build strength.
Satish always insists on keeping good form to avoid injury. When I completed the set with dumbbells or kettlebells, I used to put the weight down with no technique. Then Satish taught me that this could result in injury or a pull in the back. He taught me to bend the knees slightly and put the weight down, thereby buffering the lower back from the pull.
This principle is also applied when lifting a baby to avoid strain on the back. And the same principle is used when hoisting a trekking backpack.
Form is very important while doing weight training. The effect of muscle development is much better when the exercise is done in the full range of motion. Apart from this, correct form helps avoid injury as discussed above.
While form is important, breathing cannot be ignored. Eg: While doing the deadlift, Satish shared that you breathe in while pushing the barbell down. As you breathe in, you stomach balloons, creating air pockets that hold your spine in place. This acts as a buffer to the back. I realised, this is akin to airbags in a car. We create airbags within to protect parts of our body.
Correct form combined with synchronised breathing ensure that deadlift or other exercises are done in the best way.
Engage your body
Recently, while doing squats, I was reminded repeatedly to keep my heels engaged, pressed firmly in the floor. I have to push from the heels while coming up. It felt different at first, since I have not paid attention earlier.
For the first time since 6 years of working out, I could feel the gluteal muscles till after 2 days of the workout! Similarly, while doing crunches or ab exercises, Satish insists on engaging the core muscles.
I am beginning to understand the importance of correct form and body engagement. Often we work out and wonder why we don’t see results. I am feeling the difference in two weeks of improving form and being aware to engage my muscles during a set.
Ligament tear vs. tendon
In the running and fitness community, we hear the word ligament tear with fear. It takes a while to heal and the athlete’s training has to be stopped till the tear heals.
Ligament is the tissue that connects two bones. Therefore, a ligament tear is very painful. A tendon on the other hand connects the muscle to the bone. A ligament tear should not be taken lightly. It is important to listen to your body and resume workouts only when you feel absolutely fit, shares Satish. In the interim, workout parts of the body apart from the injured part. Or change your sport eg: swimming brings in a lot of cardio with the least impact. Great workout for the summer months too.
These are important lessons I have learnt along the journey of keeping fit. I would love to hear your workout routine, exercise tips and more.