This is the 2nd post in a series on general workout principles, that if followed and applied to the workout you choose, can prevent many injuries both acute and chronic. Again the most important principle is for you to THINK!!! Remember to do your own research and make sure that your goals are achievable and simple.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction” –Albert Einstein
5) Stick to functionally based exercises. Most people will never have to push a weight off of their chest outside of the gym but everyone will need to push themselves off of the floor at some point. Bench-press is a useless exercise for anything other than vanity. Push-ups, as with most closed-chain exercises, are a much better exercise that not only improves your strength but also your ability to move your body. That is what your muscles where designed to do, to move your body not to move the things outside of your body. A closed-chain exercise is where your body is free to move and your extremities are planted as in squats, push-ups, and pull-ups. Open-chain exercises keep your body still and your extremities move weights as in leg press, bench press, and lat pull downs on a machine. Multiple scientific studies have been done on the benefits of closed-chain exercises over open-chain.
“Closed-chain exercises have been shown to require graded, coordinated and sequential muscle activation to govern joint movements; co-contraction muscle activation to govern stability; and emphasis on proprioceptive feedback to initiate and control the muscle activation sequence. Thus, from a functional prospective, they are more beneficial…” — Hyde TE, Gengenbach MS. Conservative Management of Sports Injuries. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007:73 Its really just common sense, functionality is much more important than looks or the ability to throw heavy weights around for the average person, with the exception being athletes and models. Here is a link to a great book for those of you who want to do more research… http://books.google.com/bookshl=en&lr=&id=8iza_h84kBYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=closed+chain+exercise+benefits&ots=mOFu4DXzEc&sig=a7DOLAF9pmCZRrgDbHXjYctAmHA#v=onepage&q=closed%20chain%20exercise%20benefits&f=false
6) Work out smarter not harder. This is a link to a fascinating documentary that explores the research on exactly how much exercise is really needed to accomplish the health benefits of exercise. Insanely interesting, short documentary!!!
For those of you who want to workout longer than 3 minutes here is the basic idea; intensity matters. If you can work out longer than one hour then your workout is not intense enough, unless you are a professional athlete who works out for a living. Make your workout count, stay focused, and squeeze every second out of your workout that you can then spend the rest of your day with friends and family or relaxing.
7) Know your goals and how to accomplish them. Do you want to trim down and tone up? Don’t just do cardio!!! The stereotypical “cardio” workout is great for a warm up or cool down but that is about it. Weight training is the best for trimming up and toning. Plus weight training IS cardio. Try it without increasing your heart rate, it won’t happen! Cardio may burn calories at the time you do it but weight training increases your metabolism long term so you burn more calories all day long. Ladies, don’t worry, if you do light weight and high repetitions you will never “bulk up” unless you take something to change your body chemistry. The key is to use a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after around 15 to 20 reps and do about 2 to 3 sets with a very short rest between sets. Actually it would be better to not rest but to immediately move on to work out another part of your body between sets. This is called circuit training.
Do you want to get stronger? Start with core exercises and use explosive movements. After preparing your connective tissue for a month or two begin using weights that are heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after only 3 to 5 repetitions and do this for 5 to 7 sets with a few minutes rest between each set. It would be best to start with your own body weight and then move to weights while on an unbalanced surface (a Bosu ball or wobble board) to promote better posture and proper core activation. Remember if you can not lift the weight while on an unstable surface then you do not have the core strength to lift it properly while on the ground.
Do you want to get larger muscles? Look into muscle confusion workouts. The basic concept is to get your muscles to work in all possible directions so you strain every fiber possible. Work with a weight that will fatigue you to failure after 8 to 10 reps and do 3 to 5 sets with a short rest period between.
Remember that the goal of weight training to fail. You want to work your muscles to the point that they can not do any more, rest, and repeat. Change the weight, number of reps, sets, and rest time to accomplish different goals. The best advice is to find an athletic trainer or very educated personal trainer to help you create the ideal work out plan for your individual body.
8) Get good nutrition. It is about quality not just stuffing protein powder into your body. If there are not the correct enzymes present to break down and absorb the protein then it does not matter how much is taken. There are A LOT of marketing ploys out there selling crap that is very harmful to your body but promises “results.” Don’t get taken advantage of by catch phrases or fancy packaging. Real food can not be beat! The best advice is to see a nutritional expert and make sure you are not only taking the proper vitamins, minerals, nutrients and enzymes but they are also in the correct ratio with the correct amount of water for your individual body type.
9) Make sure your spine is aligned. If even one of your spinal vertebrae is slightly misaligned then every one above and below it must shift to compensate. Our bodies are not compartmentalized, they are complete integrated systems. It is called the kinematic chain and if any link is weak then the whole chain is weak. Chiropractors are specifically trained to find the weakest link and help it into a position that strengthens the link and the whole chain. No exercise can be done correctly if even one spinal joint is even slightly misplaced.
If you missed part one here is a link- http://organiclivingchiropractic.com/2013/04/23/work-out-while-preventing-injuries-part-1-of-3/
Stay tuned for the last post in this series where we will define a simple and easy exercise routine specifically designed for people who sit at a desk or in the car regularly through out the day.
In the mean time, what are your thoughts on this series so far? What have been your experiences in exercising? I’d love to hear from you: leave a comment!
As always Much Love and stay adjusted, my friends.
Tad Schexnailder DC