Now is the time for you to be­gin build­ing your sum­mer body

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - WINA STUR­GEON

Were you in shape last sum­mer, only to start slack­ing off once cold weather started to roll in? If you’ve lost your train­ing in­ten­sity over the past few months, but still wish to be strong for the bik­ing and run­ning of sum­mer — or even if you just want to look a lit­tle more toned than you cur­rently are — now is the time to start build­ing your sum­mer body.

You will need two qual­i­ties: pa­tience and con­sis­tency. It takes a lot of time, and thus a lot of pa­tience, to build an ath­letic body. But the only way to build fat-eat­ing mus­cle is to be to­tally con­sis­tent with your work­outs. Plan a con­ve­nient time and a con­ve­nient place. The key word here is ‘plan.’

Don’t ever even con­sider walk­ing into a gym with­out a plan. It should be well thought out and de­signed for gains in strength and ath­leti­cism. Four or five months of train­ing won’t re­make your body, but you can cer­tainly make small gains in mus­cle mass dur­ing that brief time, as well as lower the fat con­tent of your body. Your fam­ily and friends will no­tice the dif­fer­ence.

Con­sis­tency is the one thing that will al­low you to ac­com­plish your ath­letic goal, es­pe­cially if you’re only go­ing to be train­ing for a rel­a­tively short time. Whether you de­cide to train three days a week or five, don’t ever skip a ses­sion. Be punc­tual for your­self. Take your pro­gram with you to the gym, whether on a de­vice or in a pa­per note­book. There’s just no way to tell you how im­por­tant con­sis­tency is in reach­ing your goal suc­cess­fully.

An­other fac­tor is a body ac­cus­tomed to mo­tion will tend to re­main in mo­tion. It’s so much eas­ier to pull your­self away from the TV if your body is ac­cus­tomed to mov­ing.

Think about your work­out as you de­sign it. Do you want to train for looks or for per­for­mance? If you want your mus­cles to be func­tional; that is, strong rather than just bulging, you’ll train dif­fer­ently than a body­builder. A pro body­builder may be eye candy, but those pretty mus­cles won’t get him or her up a tough hill in a com­pet­i­tive run or bike ride.

If you haven’t been train­ing ac­cord­ing to a planned pro­gram, you will have to start off with lighter weights than the poundage you formerly used. Start with a weight that’s only three quar­ters of what you used to lift.

If that makes your joints or mus­cle ten­dons ache dur­ing or af­ter the work­out, lower the weight even more.

But even if you’re start­ing with a lighter poundage, you still have to push your mus­cles to ex­haus­tion. You have to ac­tu­ally break down the mus­cles so that they will re­pair them­selves. The re­pair pro­tects the mus­cle against break­ing down again against the same amount of force. That’s why your pro­gram must al­ways be chang­ing.

Do a dif­fer­ent amount of rep­e­ti­tions, do a dif­fer­ent amount of sets. Hold the weight at a slightly dif­fer­ent an­gle. Lift five or 10 more pounds.

How­ever, don’t al­low your­self to be­come over trained. Over­train­ing is an ac­tual con­di­tion that hap­pens when the body isn’t given suf­fi­cient re­cov­ery time.

The mus­cles and white tis­sues (ten­dons, lig­a­ments) need time to re­pair them­selves thor­oughly be­fore they are again put un­der stress. In the state you’re in now, af­ter a slack-off in train­ing, it’s easy to over­work the tis­sues so much that they can’t even re­pair them­selves.

This is the im­por­tant rea­son you need to sched­ule days off, to al­low for very im­por­tant re­cov­ery time.

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Pa­tience, con­sis­tency and a thought­ful train­ing plan are key to build­ing an ath­letic body.

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