Ranadeep Moitra offers some year-end advice to help put your fitness regimen back on track
December is a great month to reflect on the last 11, take stock of your progress — or the lack of it — and generally review your fitness programme.
Many of you might have started a wellness or fitness programme, joined a new gym or fitness group and are thrilled with the progress and development. You need to give yourself a big pat on the back and plan for even greater things in 2018.
However, if you are like most people, you probably are disillusioned with your programme and wondering whether you are actually heading anywhere. Work pressure, relationship stress, family and social commitments have won the battle over steely resolve and discipline and all promises made at the beginning of the year seem like a distant dream. You are on the verge of giving up your programme and wondering whether it is even worth doing the same things again and again and not getting any results.
These points may help you gain a better perspective. And for those of you who are already motivated, you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and aspire to reach even greater heights of fitness in the coming year.
Look after the ticker
I have learnt that the heart is the most important organ in your system and looking after the heart is the greatest trigger that improves other parameters in the human body. In the world of clinical exercise, we look at four parameters that are perceived as life risks: cholesterol, blood glucose, hypertension and lipid profile. Training for cardiac health will have a huge positive carry-over effect on improving all four parameters. The cardiovascular system responds best to short and moderately hard intervals of one or more exercises that push up the pulse rate to around 70 to 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate. The intervals could be anything from 30 seconds to 3 minutes repeated for 6 to 10 sets. A 1:1 ratio of work to rest would be ideal.
Full body is better
Obviously this is not the only way to train but in my opinion a superior way to train. It burns more calories, creates more muscle and is more time effective than following a split system where individual body parts are trained on different days. If it is important, do it every day — this adage was in my consciousness for a long time but it is only this year that I’ve truly appreciated the wisdom of these words. This works particularly well for those who train three-four days a week, which I imagine would be true for most gym users.
Add a kg of muscle every year
The human body typically tends to lose one per cent of muscle every year after the 40th year for men and 35th year for women. Remember, muscle is your support for old age. It is muscle and connective tissue that hold you up and keep your mobility and stability intact in your golden years. Did you know that one of the biggest causes of death in the US is falls among the senior population?
Muscle is best built with resistance training exercises that direct multiple joints at the same time. These exercises give better bang for your buck. They elevate your metabolism, help in insulin sensitivity and have great functional value as well. Make it a goal in the coming year to add at least a kg or two of muscle by next December and keep this on for the years to come. Women will benefit greatly by resistance training due to its positive effect on increasing bone density. According to medical data released, around 40 per cent of urban Indian women suffer from either osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Work out early in the morning
Evening workouts often tend to get shelved due to tiredness or professional/social commitments. Getting it done first thing in the morning ensures compliance and produces a huge afterburn that works as a boost for the day’s other activities. Our cortisol levels are highest in the morning and jump-starting your day with an exercise session promotes enhanced secretion of all the hormones in our body and increased sensitivity of insulin. People who train later in the day may sometimes suffer from poor quality of sleep due to increased quantity of post-exercise hormones in the blood. These hormones tend to make you jumpy and restless and interfere with the production of serotonin and melatonin. The last two hormones help to calm us down and induce good sleep.
Train with the best
Find yourself a trainer who is educated, erudite and articulate with instructions and also someone who has great personal ethics and lifestyle. The way your trainer lives and works should be an inspiration for you. I am fond of saying — never take your real estate advice from people who don’t own property. Similarly, don’t appoint a trainer who is sloppy, in poor shape or has loose work ethics. Most importantly, he or she should be able to empathise with your needs, goals and ambition. Stay away from gyms where the trainers look like barroom bouncers rather than well-toned athletes! And definitely avoid trainers who preach and profess the use of pharmaceutical products for physical development rather than hard work and discipline.
Ranadeep Moitra is a strength and conditioning specialist and corrective exercise coach