Weighty matters: for that nippy little waist you want, try some freestyle moves

Lifting hefty weights in the gym might look impressive but it won't always get you the best results

It takes real stamina to be able to lift your own weight

Pat Henry

Over the last four months, we have been focusing on very much home-based exercises, using a medicine ball or very light dumb-bells.

Over the last four months, we have been focusing on very much home-based exercises, using a medicine ball or very light dumb-bells.

These type of programmes really suit those who may not have access to a gym or often have great intentions of getting to the gym, but are time poor and don't make it.

Regardless of where you train, with all forms of exercise, the stricter the form, the better results - and desirable results include changing your shape while giving more contour to your figure and physique.

Some trainers frown at freestyle exercises, such as using your own body weight to perform dips, chin-ups, press-ups, hanging leg raises etc. But some of the nicest figures and physiques you'll ever see are those of gymnasts - great shoulders, arms, small waist - overall, a great shape, brought about mainly with free-form exercise.

For example, see how many chin-ups you can do with the over-hand grip or how many real press-ups with your chin touching the floor can you do? Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy recently had a go at a party.

Harrington did 300, McIlroy did 240, which just shows how fit these guys are. And while they also train with weights, freestyle is equally important.

Yet, the controversy continues with the gym bullies claiming weights are the only way to go, to the extent of avoiding freestyle exercise.

The trend with most trainers is to use maximum weight for low reps for both men and women, with each set consisting of 8-10 reps using a weight that really taxes the body.

Weight training done properly is fantastic for toning, re-shaping muscles and getting stronger, which is essential for avoiding osteoporosis and joint pain. Training also helps the body absorb calcium which is needed for strong bones.

But having worked with thousands of clients over the years, the most effective type of training is to use light and heavy movements to hit the body from all angles.

Trying to reshape a muscle group with a heavy weight will be very difficult to perform correctly.

You can see this in any gym where clients are bouncing up from squats, swinging the bar for curls and half range movements for chest and shoulders.

All that is being worked is the ego, particularly if there are girls in the gym.

The guys load on the weights to impress, even if they don't lift it, it looks cool.

Only last week, a new client joined our gym who had been body-building for 20 years, yet he looked unfit.

So for our first workout, we avoided all heavy weights and used 30kg bar with 15 exercises for 20 reps. He could not get beyond one set, as he felt queasy.

My approach would be to spend three weeks getting fit before using a heavier weight. This also avoids stretchmarks on the skin. Going heavy without fitness is asking for injury.


By all means, get a good weight workout, but combine this with freestyle chin-ups, etc. Not only will you get fitter, but your shape will improve and your stamina will increase. Overall, this is a win-win situation.

Also, spend a little money on a few personalised workouts, as this can save you hours of time wasted doing training that might not be suitable for your frame.

Ask your trainer to give you a projected view of what you both expect to achieve over six months or longer.

It's really important to have a vision of what you want to achieve, even down to measurements - whether to increase or decrease, you have to know where you are heading to reach your target or goal.

For more info, telephone: 01 661 6195; email: info@henry fitnesscentre.com; or see www.henryfitnesscentre.com