Shape up: Blueprint for building a better body
The ancient Greeks can teach us a thing or two about getting in shape and staying that way
Published 01/03/2010 | 05:00
It is just over one week since Yvonne began her journey on these pages to improve her energy, fitness and vitality. Our role as coaches here at Bfit4life is to provide a road map to help get a client from where they are to where they want to go.
We do this by providing guidance through a customised nutrition and training programme as well as ensuring accountability and consistency that these acts are followed through.
Your training programme provides structure and is similar to the plans designed by an architect to build a dream home, only this time it's a plan to build a dream body.
It should record the number of repetitions and the weights you lifted in your previous workouts as well as your rest periods between exercises.
You may feel this is unnecessary or harsh, but you are constantly tested in life too. At school or at work our performances are measured by grades or by sales targets, but do you apply the same principles in the gym? Do you record the weights you lift, the distance you covered or the speed you ran?
I find it entertaining when I overhear a conversation in the gym about a forthcoming workout: "So, what are we going to train today?" "I don't know. I think weights, as it's raining outside."
"What exercises will we do first? I can't remember what we did the last time" -- these are people without a plan!
What's more, forgetting your training programme in the gym is like forgetting your football boots for a football game. You will be able to play the game but your game will not be as effective.
One of the basic principles of training is based on the legend of Milo and it has become known as 'progressive overload'.
Milo of Croton was a legendary wrestler who was born in a Greek colony in southern Italy in the sixth century BC. He was a six-time Olympic champion whose feats of strength inspired many others to smash through training barriers through his principle of overload.
This means that every day, you should be looking to improve by lifting at least two per cent heavier than the day before, or by lifting the same weight for another repetition.
Anecdotes about Milo's almost superhuman strength and lifestyle abound. It is said that he started his daily training by carrying a newborn ox. As the ox increased in body weight, Milo's training volume and workload had to increase to overcome the new load.
Legend says he carried his own bronze statue to its place at Olympia, and once carried a four-year-old bull on his shoulders before slaughtering, roasting and devouring it.
Stories of ancient feats of strength and training make great reading but the problem with Milo's workout is that although he increased the resistance he did the same workout every day. It lacked variety.
If he lifted the same bull all the time, it would reach a peak weight and so at best Milo's strength could only be maintained. If you perform the same exercise routine or the same weights every day you will not make progress.
You must vary the exercises performed, the speed or tempo of the repetition as well as the number of repetitions, and the order of the exercises. The more advanced a trainer that you are, the more variety you need.
When you change your workout after completing three weeks or six workouts, you will stimulate new growth in your muscles which will lead to more fat burning.
Plus, when you alter your exercises you can prevent repetitive strain injuries such as knee pain, tennis elbow, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. These arise as a result of muscle imbalances.
What we measure, we improve, so record your workout, the weights lifted and the distance you cover. Get familiar with constant improvement. There is nothing noble in being superior to someone else. The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self.
So challenge yourself to be better and to improve on a daily basis.
It is easy to be comfortable and stay where you are, but it's much better to die on your feet than live on your knees.