Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.

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Making muscle

Doin' Dips

As I mentioned the other day, a pound of muscle takes up more room in the body than a pound of fat. Muscle also burns calories to maintain itself while fat just sits weighing you down.

When I encourage you to gain muscle, I’m not suggesting that you bulk up and enter a bodybuilding contest. I am simply suggesting that you take the muscles that you have and feed them (pump them up) a little bit. When you do this you will not get bigger, you will become toned and smaller as the increased muscle will burn the excess fat.

Think about this, after the age of 40 our bodies start to lose muscle.  As you lose muscle, your strength decreases, increasing your risks of injury from muscle weakness, poor balance and fatigue. Not to mention weight gain. Need I say more?

With that, below is a very basic workout you can do anywhere, all you need is your body. Give it a try.

  • Warm up with a 10 – 15 minute walk or jog. Swing your arms around, across your body and around and around like you’re swimming.
  • 10 Push ups (on your knees, against the wall or boy style, whatever you can manage but is still hard!)
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Walking Lunges
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Standing Straight Leg Kickbacks
  • 20 – 30 Tricep Dips
  • 20 – 30 Calf Raises
  • Plank – Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Now repeat the sequence two times for a total of three sets.

Add this basic circuit to your weekly fitness routine. Do it three times per week if you can manage.

Remember, this is just a sampling of things you can do. If you want to come up with your own routine be sure to work everything; chest, back, quads, shoulders, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, calves and abs. You know where to find me if you need help.

P.s. Always suck your navel toward your spine while performing every exercise. Inhale during the easy part of the movement, exhaling during the more difficult half.  Do not hold your breath when performing any exercise.

P.s.s. The basic rule of strength training is: to get stronger, work with heavy weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote tone and endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions. For the purpose of this post I’m suggesting that you start with building endurance and adding tone (light weight, lots of reps).

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The scale is not your friend

Fat vs Muscle - That's a lot of fat!

Years ago I stopped getting on the scale. Why? Because it’s full of bull and I have no patience for bull. Why do I say that the scale is full of “bull?” Because it tells me things that have very little bearing in reality.

I learned a long time ago that while the scale may tell you that you’re light (and that’s what most of us want to hear), that doesn’t mean you’re fit, strong or healthy. It simply means that you’re light, or starved, or possibly dehydrated on that particular day. Or, maybe you’ve been dieting and you are low in body fat, but can you jog up a flight of stairs without gasping? Got any muscle tone or are you giggly? You might be light but you may not be fit.

In my mind the best judge of fitness is via the way you look and feel, and the best way to judge the addition of girth is through the constraint of your clothing and reflection in the mirror, rather than the vision on the scale.

Here’s my question: Do you want to be light (thin) or do you want to be healthy? I like being healthy  myself. I am not light, I have never been light, I will never be light and I don’t care about being light according to the scales definition. I don’t need to be particularly “light?”  I’m healthy, fit, and look pretty darn swank as well as can put up a hell-of-a good fight when challenged (I mean in a race or fitness challenge not bar brawl…but I’d be okay there too).

If you want to look light, get fit; get regular aerobic exercise and build muscle rather than fat. A large part of the key to fitness is muscle mass, remember that muscle is denser than fat (%18) so it takes up that much less room in your body. Visualize this, one pound of butter is equal in size to one pound of fat. You know what butter looks like; it’s the whole box of butter. Not one stick, all 4 sticks that come in the box total one pound. Now, one pound of muscle is about the size of your fist. Visually much smaller than a box of butter. Plus, muscle burns calories to stay alive so it works with you to burn fat. Fat just sits there looking lumpy until you burn it off.

This difference in fat vs muscle mass is why you can have two 140 lb women, one a size 8 and one a size 12. Not only does the size 8 women look and feel great, most likely she’ll live a healthy, longer life. Plus, she gets to eat more than the size 12 women because she’s full of strong calorie burning muscles rather than lumpy fat. Now isn’t that worth a little sweat a few times a week?

I’ll be back bright and early on Wednesday with some easy muscle-building ideas.