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Tailoring Your Workout To Meet Your Needs

Many authors have written books and magazines articles describing "the most effective workout." But no two routines are exactly the same. The regimens we design to strengthen our bodies vary as widely as the individuals using them. Depending on your goals, your workout may be designed to promote cardiovascular endurance, structures to firm and tighten your muscles or designed to increase muscle size and muscle strength. When developing an exercise routine, it is important to understand your personal goals and expectations and work at implementing them.

Free Weights vs. Weight Machines

Many well-equipped fitness centers today contain a line of weight machines in addition to free weights. Often as people begin working out they may only utilize the machines and avoid free weights altogether. Most machines are easy to set up and change the weight being used. Since the range of motion is limited on a machine, they are generally safer to use than free weight and don't require a "spotter" or assistant. Machines are also available to isolate the specific muscle in an exercise and prevent "cheating" through muscle substitution. Weight machines do have limitations however. Weight machines are not always able to accommodate very large or very small individuals. They are also limited in the amount of poundage that can be utilized and may not offer enough resistance for highly-trained athletes. Since machines control the range of motion and the path of the weight, the lifter is not required to stabilize and control the weight as with free weights. As a result, the lifter does not develop the muscular stabilizers needed to perform the lift and the exercise is not as functional. Again, your choice of machines or free weights will depend on personal goals and needs.

Rest and Recovery

An important aspect of any workout routine is recover time between workouts. Damage can occur to the muscle tendon unit during resistance exercises. It is vital to muscle growth provide time for the body to repair that damage and build additional muscle proteins. That rest may come in the form of one-day or two-day break between total body workouts or by splitting daily workouts into upper-body and lower-body routines. During a single workout, recovery time between exercises may vary from 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on the fitness level.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

If improving your cardiovascular condition is your goal, the expense of a gym may not be necessary. For example, to increase your endurance, you may start with a walking program and after you have consulted your physician, progress to a jogging routine. If you prefer more exciting modes of exercise, you may try bicycling, cross-country skiing (real or simulated) or swimming. To achieve cardiovascular benefits, you need to raise your heart rate and maintain it at a high level for 20 minutes. Beginners should strive for a heart rate of at least 50 to 60 percent of their maximum heart rate. This is determined by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying it by (.50 or .60). More advanced athletes can sustain a heart rate of 70 percent to 80 percent of their maximum rate. Remember to start slowly and progress methodically with your conditioning.

Toning and Tightening

In general, people seeking to tone and tighten their muscles should utilize a low-weight/high repetition type of workout. This could consist of two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions each with a relatively low weight. Some athletes may limit the number of sets to one with 15 to 20 repetitions. The muscle involved is worked to fatigue, but not to failure, in an effort to increase the resting tone of the muscle. Those working to tone their muscles may utilize weight machines or free weights, or a combination of both.

Building Muscle Mass

When working to build muscle mass and strength, the muscles must be worked as hard as possible. This is best accomplished using higher weights with fewer repetitions, thus forcing the muscle to generate more torque (the force of rotation) and producing greater tension on the muscle with every repetition. Some lifters may only use weights which include exercises such as the flat bench press, squat, dead lift and dumbbell curls. Others may focus more on machine exercises such as the leg press, the leg curls, chest exercises or the declining bench press. Whether you use machines or free weights, the key ingredient in building muscle mass is the intensity of the workout. In the scheme of overall fitness, shaping and toning of the body does not mandate strenuous activities. On the other hand, building muscle mass requires much more strenuous muscle engagement to stimulate growth. For example, to stimulate growth, the muscle should be worked to the point at which it fails. As evidence, an athlete could curl 100 pounds sic times without assistance and then four more times with assistance until the biceps can no longer contract.

These tips offer guidelines in the development of an individual exercise routine based on your individual needs.

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Therapy Services Associates
Hours: Monday - Friday :: 8am - 5pm
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Two Offices
Google+ Link Hobbs
2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
FAX (575) 392-3835

Google+ Link Lovington
Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
FAX (575) 396-7193


We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.