What Sort Of Fitness Plan Should I Embark On?

Before embarking on any voyage, you must assess your present position before you can chart a course for new horizons. In bodybuilding terms, this means that you must evaluate your present physical condition before starting a workout plan. Poor planning usually translates into poor performance. 

MEASURING YOUR RESTING HEART RATE

Your resting heart rate is an important measuring stick of your overall fitness. The only time to get an accurate reading is first thing in the morning, BEFORE you leave your bed. The best way to get your heart rate would be to use a monitor. But, if you do not have access to one, then all you have to do is to count the number of heart beats in 10 seconds and multiply that by 6. Your next question probably is "what is normal?" and "what do I want my heart rate to be?"


Men--------approx.72 BPM
Women---approx.80 BPM

If your resting heart rate is ABOVE these numbers, then your health may be at risk, and your first priority should be to lower your resting heart rate. If your resting heart rate is BELOW these numbers, you already have a head start, and can only improve. If you're a goal-oriented person, and we know you are, here is a list of possible goals in regard to resting heart rates.

1st goal--60-65 BPM (above average)
2nd goal--55-59 BPM (good)
3rd goal--50-54 BPM (very good)
4th goal--40-49 BPM (excellent) world-class marathoners

MEASURING YOUR PERCENTAGE OF BODY FAT

Your percentage of body fat is another good measuring stick for your level of fitness. Unfortunately, people often tend to judge their fitness level according to what the scale says. We want to break you of this habit. This is very important because the percentage of your body which is fat is a much better measurement of your fitness level than the above mentioned scale.


The most accurate and expensive method of measuring body fat is hydrostatic emersion. This method can only be done in a laboratory by a clinician. The second most accurate method is near infa red made by Intimex , this is by far the easiest method but expensive to buy the top of the range model which is needed to test athletes on.. Another method uses electrical impedance. But you need a special machine and a trained staff. The most affordable and accessible method is to use skin-fold calipers. All you need is a friend willing to pinch you a couple of times (remember to be consistent with the sites measured). This form of measurement (if done correctly and consistently) will give you a quality guide for determining lean body mass vs. fat. 

BODY FAT MEASUREMENTS (U.S.)

Men 26% Women 36% ----> OBESE
Men 24% Women 34% ----> AVERAGE
Men 18% Women 20% ----> GOOD
Men 14% Women 16% ----> ATHLETIC
Men 10% Women 12% ----> EXCELLENT
Men 06% Women 10% ---> BODYBUILDERS

SETTING BODY FAT GOALS

Even though society tries to impose an ideal body type on people, everyone has unique genetic determinants. Therefore your body fat percentage goals will be specific to you. Be advised that certain body fat levels have risks. For example, if you fall into the obese category, you are open to respiratory difficulties, high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, coronary disease and failure, digestive diseases and kidney problems.


Once you have determined your current percent body fat, you should set a realistic short-term goal that will allow you to show small, and continuous improvement. For example, if you fall into the Obese category, set a short-term goal of losing enough fat to qualify as Average. If you are presently Average, your immediate goal will be Good. Get the idea? Set yourself up to succeed with small, attainable, short-term goals! 

A word of caution is needed if your body fat falls below a certain level: 4% for men and 10% for women--it may cause health complications. For men they are minor, but for women they may include cessation of menstrual activity and the inability to conceive. These problems will reverse themselves when fat levels return to "healthy" levels.

SPECIAL HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

Your own special physical limitations (such as asthma or diabetes, any current or nagging injuries as well as handicaps) must be taken into account before starting an exercise program. If you are currently taking any medications, often this may affect your ability to exercise. And always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.


MUSCLES GROW WITH REST AND NUTRITION

Poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, and excessive stress are counterproductive to your exercise program. All the weight training in the world won't result in a muscular body if you don't eat right and sleep enough so your body can recover and grow muscle.

EVALUATING YOUR PHYSIQUE

Use a mirror to evaluate your physique at regularly scheduled intervals. Try not to be too hard on yourself; progress takes time. On the other hand, try not to become too narcissistic because you'll lose all your friends. When you judge your physique, try to be objective and make an accurate assessment. Pick specific body parts (and after making sure you will be able to reproduce a same-site measurement) and record circumference measurements at regularly scheduled intervals. You may even want to take photographs of yourself periodically to chronicle your progress.


A SAFE WAY TO DETERMINE YOUR ONE REP MAX

If you need to see how much weight you can lift one time, we recommend starting with a weight that you know you can perform correctly without strain for 6 repetitions. 
Slowly increase the weight until you arrive at your one rep max.

SETTING GOALS

The key element in goal setting is to set goals that are realistic, attainable and measurable. Such as lowering your heart rate, or reducing your body fat percentage as previously discussed. What constitutes short term vs. long term? A short-term time frame would be considered 4 to 6 weeks. An intermediate step would be 2 to 6 months. 
A long term would be 1 year to a lifetime.

HOW FAR SHOULD YOU GO?

Only you can answer this question. It depends on how hard you are willing to work. How far do you want to go? At a minimum, you should strive to reach your ideal bodyweight (based on % body fat), lower your heart rate to an acceptable level, and develop sufficient muscle tone to perform everyday tasks easily and have the energy to enjoy life to its fullest.


SHORT TERM GOALS

As you start to reach your short-term goals, you should see differences in the way your clothing fits, your energy level, and even in your reflection in the mirror. Your decreased resting heart rate and body fat percentage, as well as your increased stamina, lean body mass and muscular strength, will motivate you to continue your progress!

INTERMEDIATE GOALS

Your intermediate goals (6 month-1 year) will be a continuation of your short-term goals. Always with an eye and emphasis on progression. When you are in the intermediate phase, you will continue to progress (although not necessarily in a linear fashion). 

LONG TERM GOALS

Long term goals (1 year to a lifetime) will be either a continuation of your intermediate phase, a set of new goals (more challenging), or a program of maintenance. It's up to you. Be aware that as you become more fit, it becomes more difficult to affect dramatic changes in your appearance. But don't be discouraged. By changing your workouts and exercises and repetition  you will be able to force your body to continue to adapt. 


There will be times when you will reach a plateau or a temporary sticking point. To break out of a plateau, you must vary your exercises and techniques. Only by hard work, proper planning, good nutritional practices, adequate rest and awareness of life's demands, will you be able to coax, abuse and cajole your body into continuous adaptation.

NUTRITION AND REST ARE ESSENTIAL TO GROW MUSCLE

A good diet  is essential for muscle growth. You must also consider whether you are under an inordinate amount of 
stress (you must make allowances for this when setting up your exercise program). And finally, never work out a body part if it still hasn't recovered from a previous workout. A famous person once said, "Never put off 'till tomorrow what you can do today." This person was obviously an unhealthy pencil neck. Your muscles only grow (or adapt) during rest. So when they are tired or sore, it is their way of saying "We need more time to recover!"

 

 

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