Why tone up?
Many of us find ourselves sitting for long stints during the day, every day. Our muscles pay the price: the stiffness of joints and the weakening of muscles that we sometimes blame on aging are often a direct effect of inactivity.
Making the effort to have toned muscles will mean you have strong muscles. Strong muscles are firmer, look better and help avoid potentially debilitating bone and joint injuries. Doing strength training exercises can increase your lean body mass (the non-fat parts of your body), which raises your metabolic rate - helping with weight management - and also increases cardiovascular health. Resistance training can be a component of your fitness program regardless of age or gender!
Challenging your muscles with strength training exercises 2 or 3 times each week is all you need to improve the strength and tone of your muscles - and gain several long-term health benefits - provided you keep up the routine!
What are strength training exercises?
Strength training exercises work your muscles by applying a resistance against which the muscles need to exert a force. The goal is to use an appropriate weight or resistant force that will work the target muscles to fatigue, over 8 to 12 repetitions of an exercise. A typical beginner's strength training program involves 8 to 10 exercises that work the major muscle groups of the body. These exercises are usually performed 2 to 3 times every week.
How Do I Start?
It is important to check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have any physical limitations.
Proper nutrition is essential for energy and endurance. Eating a breakfast that is Right for Your Type that contains both protein and carbohydrates is a good place to start. Protein builds muscle and carbohydrates provide energy. A high quality protein powder that contains the right ingredients for your blood type (such as R4YT Protein Blends) is a great clean protein source. A UniBar makes a great snack during a workout because, unlike other snack or protein bars, it does not contain sugar - which can play havoc with your metabolism and lead to fatigue and fat storage. Also, remember to keep yourself hydrated: pure, simple water is best, you don't need special sports drinks which contain sweeteners and a lot of other additives you just don't need.
If you are a beginner, you will gain the most benefit from three strength training sessions a week, however, two sessions will still give very good results. Remember that strength training must not be done on consecutive days unless different muscle groups are worked, e.g. arms on Monday, legs on Tuesday. This is because muscle tissue is broken down during strength training and then needs recovery time to rebuild itself - this is how muscles become stronger.
You don't need expensive or elaborate gym equipment - you can do it at home with minimal equipment. Often a pair of hand-weights--you can even use two soup cans-supply the resistance in these exercises, or the weight of your own body is used as the resistance against which the muscles need to work, such as in Yoga or Pilates.
The Basic Steps
- The most important thing to remember is listen to your body! If something hurts, stop!
- Begin with simple stretching. Stretch the muscle groups that you are planning to use. Five to ten minutes should be adequate to warm up.
- A lighter weight with a slower action is best. Lift up to a five second count, and down to a ten second count.
- Never force, swing, or return suddenly with weights.
- Pause at the end of the action and start again in a controlled manner.
- Do eight to ten repetitions.
- Get adequate rest.
Useful weight training is all about stimulating your genetic potential. Too much weight creates injuries and puts your back and joints at risk. This should enhance your life, your body and your mind - it should be challenging, but most of all, it should be fun!
A Final Note About Pain and Injury: Most people are very busy and are lucky to fit in a workout at all. Many times this means that all of the available time is spent on aerobic exercise or resistance training in an effort to maximize the workout. What is overlooked in this common approach is warming up, cooling down and stretching the muscles - equally important to a balanced, healthy exercise regimen and of utmost importance to prevent injury.
Warm up your 'large' muscles by walking, doing lunges or jumping jacks before you begin your workout. Cool down to give your heart rate time to return to normal. Stretch after your warm up and at the end of your workout to increase flexibility, which will protect you from injury.
If you should injure yourself or experience minor discomfort or occasional inflammation, you may benefit from nutritional dietary support. Try the Joint Health Pack.
Anti-Aging Exercise Guidelines
- Blood Type O: Vigorous exercise such as running and aerobics
- Blood Type A: Calming exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi
- Blood Type B: Choose sports that have mental and physical components such as tennis, golf or martial Arts.
- Blood Type AB: Choose sports that have mental and physical components such as tennis, golf or martial Arts with added stretching