A Complete Exercise guide For Indian Women
Build Strength, Lose Weight & Get That 'Lean' Look!
The age old adage that “Health is Wealth” has been used and re used umpteen number of times, but yet the true essence of what that simple string of words try to convey cannot be stressed enough.
The great Herophilus captured the stark truth and laid it bare before us when he said...
"Lack of good mental and physical health can cripple our lives in many more ways than we imagine..."
It can blunt our intellectual prowess, can break us physically, smother our existence with ailments and diseases, and simply take the joy and meaning out of living.
In fact, the most alarming development is that millions and millions of people continue to conduct their lives while staying immersed in the seas of oblivion.
But that is completely fine when you discover that an equal if not larger number of people are actually aware of this fact but still are apprehensive to emerge out of the fake cocoon of happiness that they have enveloped themselves with.
They fail to accept the truth that is staring at their faces, choosing instead to turn away and consoling themselves that what they are doing is the “right” or the “normal” thing to do.
We say this not because we wish to be called the harbinger of doomsday, but because the number of people who relegate health and fitness to the least important sphere of their lives constitute the vast majority among us.
This has led to a drastic increase in the rate of obesity. NFHS 3 (a 2005-06 survey) reports say that the percentage of obesity in women was 12.6%, whereas in 10 years, the rate of obesity increased by 8%, i.e. in NFHS 4, the percentage of obese women was 20.7%.
One of the primary reasons for this is the pace of life in these turbulent times. People seldom find the time to devote to anything other than their vocations and the incessant race to reach the top.
But the simple question remains as to what is the point of racing to the summit if you are going to collapse at the top out of the breathless exertion that you have put your bodies through.
As we mentioned above, this less-than-favorable outlook towards exercise is because of the misconceptions associated with it. Partly spread by people who never tried exercising and partly by those who did try, but in the wrong way.
And that is precisely what we intend to set straight with this guide. Because we firmly believe in the notion that if done the right way, exercise (even via doing Yoga) can truly transform your life beyond your farthest expectations.
Importance Of Exercise
The many benefits of exercise are not felt just in terms of physical health, but in every other significant avenue of your life. It will brew positivity not only in your body, but also in the way you think and feel.
Adding all the benefits, exercise also improves your brain health by increasing the blood flow and oxygen in the brain. It also releases hormones that are responsible to produce cells in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that looks after memory and learning.
#1 Work Out Smart
The fact needs to be reiterated that the prime reason for people not taking up exercise and physical fitness regularly are the multitudes of misconceptions and misinformation associated with it.
And the reason for the quitters is the hardship they have to go through on a daily basis. It will be correct for you to assume that in this part we intend to address both of these issues.
First and foremost, let us establish without doubt that, done with the right frame of mind, exercise can very be the most gratifying part of your whole day.
As we mentioned before, the benefits of that half an hour or one hour spent exercising can spill over to the rest of the day and actually play a huge role in making you feel positive.
The second important thing is the notion that makes people quit; that is the hatred of the exercises and other practices they do in order to remain fit. The remedy to this problem is extremely simple yet extremely effective. All you need to do is love what you do.
Do not look upon the time spent every day on the treadmill or in the gym as a session of torture; instead consider it as the time of physical invigoration and emancipation.
These are the four questions that we shall be covering in this part.
Do I really love exercise?
What is my primary objective?
How can I make my exercise routine effective?
How can I make my workouts 'smart'?
And with that, we can now move on to...
#2 Your Diet
The importance of diet is not something that can be overlooked. In fact, it is as important as physical exercise when it comes to weight loss.
However, we will not be going in depth into this because of 2 primary reasons.
For one, we have covered many diet related topics in other posts (Check out our 7-day balanced diet plan for weight loss). But more importantly, this guide is primarily about exercise techniques and we shall stick to that.
That having said, we would still like to mention a few key points here.
Ensure that you intake a sufficient amount of protein to supplement all the weight training.
This should be at least 3/4th to a gram (or more) of protein for every kilogram of body weight, depending on your physique and the intensity of your workouts. (Here are 5 great sources of protein.)
Also make sure that you consume a lot of essential Vitamins in the form of green leafy vegetables. This is very important because Vitamins are needed for your muscle fibers to recover and repair themselves after a hard day of workout or hiking.
The third point is, keep the calorie count in check. You don’t need to count calories, but be aware of what you are eating.Consume carbohydrate rich foods (potatoes, white rice, white breads, sugar, juices) to the bare minimum and avoid soft drinks and junk foods at all cost. Finally, if you can afford it, always choose organic foods.
#3 Weight Training
In the last part we saw the how regular aerobics and correct diet contribute towards helping you shed those extra kilos. This chapter will concentrate on the other key subject of this book: weight training.
As the name implies weight training is a form of exercise that makes use of free weights in the dumbbells and barbells and kettle bells and weight machines to build the strength and endurance muscular size of your body.
The concept of weight training is age old one that can be traced to the earliest civilizations. It can even be said that the as long as the history of man and his roots has been written, some kind of reference to weight lifting and weight training has always found a mention.
All kind of mythological stories are awash with stories and anecdotes of strong men and their feats.
Perhaps the earliest one is the story if the Greek wrestler Milo. As the legend goes, Milo was a famed wrestler in Greece. His strength and prowess were famous in all of the Greek states and beyond.
No matter how much they practiced or trained, his fellow wrestlers could never better the strength and endurance of Milo.
The secret of his seemingly superhuman strength lies in the weird habit that Milo had. When a cow in his home gave birth, Milo immediately took to the calf in a very fond manner. He developed a habit of carrying the calf wherever he went.
The sight of Milo walking down the street with a calf slung over his powerful shoulders became such a common sight for the villagers that they soon started ignoring it.
The calf became progressively bigger and heavier as time passed, but its placed was still on Milo’s shoulders.
This went on until the calf became a fully grown adult cow and one fine day, he gave the cows to the butchers to be slaughtered. it does not end here, Milo is said to have eaten the whole cow himself.
However smothered by hyperbole this post may be, we can’t ignore two key concepts pertaining to weight training here. Because if this is not the best example of progressive resistance weight training and the importance of good protein rich diet, then we don’t know what is.
The basic concepts behind weight training are indeed quite simple.
The process goes like this; when you train with free weights for a body part, let us say your arm, you lift the weights in a continuous motion for a predetermined number of repetitions.
A fixed number of repetitions constitute a set of that exercise and you should be performing anything between four to ten sets.
Let us assume that on the first day you perform four sets of Bicep Curls using twenty ponds. By the end of the fourth set, you would be really struggling to complete the set.
Continue doing this for a week or two and by the end of the second week you would be lifting and curling the same weight in the fourth set with comparative ease. So what has happened here?
Your own body that was huffing and puffing to complete four sets is now able to do six sets before giving up. What has happened here is a classic instance of progressive weight training.
Because of your consistent and regular weight training, your body became acclimatized to lifting twenty pounds.
The muscle fibres in your arm, or more specifically your biceps sensed the fact that they have to lift twenty pounds every day, many times. And because of this progressive and constant stimulus, the strength and endurance in your arms increased.
After this when you increase the difficulty level of your exercise by increasing the weight or reducing the rest time between sets or by performing super sets (performing two different exercises, targeting two different muscle groups back to back), then you will undoubtedly experience difficulty in the beginning.
But sticking to your plan and willing your body to perform again and again till failure will eventually take you to a day when you can lift that higher amount of weight or exercise with that reduced rest time, without failure. This adaptive capacity of the body is the underlying principle of weight training.
At this point you may be wondering where the “smart” angle comes into the picture. The simplicity of the underlying concepts of weight training is indeed akin to a twin edged sword.
On one hand, this ease makes it convenient to grasp the ethos and makes the diligent and disciplined person less prone to mistakes. It lets you bring a great amount of variation into the exercise routine that will help you customize the workouts to suit your lifestyle.
On the other hand, an undisciplined practitioner, looking to find an easy way to increase the strength and size of his muscles may simply take the key concepts for granted.
This is a very common mistake that people make and eventually they resort to sloppy techniques and poor form in performing exercises. This will, sooner than later result in injury and irreparable damage to the joints and ligaments that will be tough to recover from.
And this is precisely what we intend to address in the forthcoming sections of this chapter. Weight training is something that can provide you with immense amount of benefits if done in the right way. We will go a step further and do it the smart way.
We'll mention techniques and tips that you can adopt in order train efficiently and without the risk of injury. You can see how to train hard and smart not merely swing around some heavy dumbbells in the gym without a clue about what to do.
Here's an evidence of why resistance training is a necessary type of workout for weight loss.
Training for Strength, Endurance and Size
There are three key objectives behind weight training; increase in strength, improvement in endurance and better aesthetics in the form of more size and enhanced definition among muscle groups. Any other objective will fall under these main objects as ancillary motives.
Contrary to what many people think, it is extremely difficult or near impossible to achieve all three of these objectives simultaneously.
There is a significant amount of difference in approach and technique as well. So let us look at these three methods in a little more detail.
In fact they should be heavy enough to not let you perform more than 4 or 5 repetitions in a set. The second point is the above mentioned number of repetitions in a single set of an exercise; make sure it is in the lower range (5 or 6 maximum).
The third factor is the rest period between two sets. Ensure that you take ample rest between two sets. The ideal range will be between 2 to 3 minutes.
The above mentioned three factors apply in case of exercises performed with an intention to increase the endurance of your muscle groups and hence your body in entirety.
The amount of weight used for training should be in the low range; meaning that you use weights that are comparatively light.
On the other hand the number of repetitions in a set should be more than 12. In fact the ideal range is between 12 and 16. The rest period between sets should be very low; preferably less than half a minute.
The third objective of weight training is improvement in aesthetics. If increase in size is what you desire, then the weights you use should be moderately heavy. In fact the weights used should be heavy enough to make the last set a hard one to complete.
The rest period between the two sets should be between a minute and two, depending on the desired level of intensity. And the number of repetitions that constitute a set should be 8 to 10.
The Basic Techniques and Tips
In this chapter, we shall be looking at some of the key techniques and tips that you have to keep in mind while performing the various exercises. Many of these are actually the core principles of weight training that have to be adhered to in order to train the right way.In fact if you happen to peruse various research papers and articles published in this regard, these basic concepts and techniques could be found as a common factor in all of them. Set let us take a look at them one by one.
Sufficient Warm Up
The importance of sufficient warm up is something that cannot be stressed upon enough. It is one of those things, the importance of which everyone is aware of, but still chooses to take for granted and ignore conveniently.
In fact, in all gravity of the matter, warm up is the most integral part of any exercise routine.
This has got so much of significance because, if your perform any kind of weight training without warming up your muscles, you are putting your body a huge risk of injury in the form of sprains, strains, tendon and ligament damage etc.
All you need to do in order to safeguard yourself from trauma and injury is to make sure that at least 10 to 15 minutes is spent every time, performing warm up routines before you begin the actual exercises.
Correct form Over More Weight
One of the most important, if not the most important matter to be kept in mind while training with weights is to maintain correct form and function. This is often sacrificed in the quest to lift more and heavier.
This problem can actually be traced to lack of clarity in terms of priority of objectives. Understand the simple fact that the objective of weight training is to increase your strength or endurance or enhance the aesthetics of your body. And it is not to earn bragging rights between your buddies as to who can lift more weights.
Get Sufficient Rest
When it comes to working out with weights on a regular basis, it is extremely imperative to get sufficient rest. When we say rest, it means both the rest between two consecutive sets of exercises and also the rest between two days of workouts.
Grabbing a quick break of a minute or two is necessary because it helps your muscle fibres to recover from the exhaustion that you had thrust upon them through the last set.
From what you had read in the previous
When you take a short break between sets, it provides time for the body to remove the lactate thereby letting you continue your workout.
Hence it would be apt for you take a day’s break between two days of exercise. But this does not mean that you have to space your workouts like this for ever. Experienced bodybuilders and athletes exercise on a daily basis, although different muscle groups on each day.
Overcome the “Plateau”
Every person who has trained with weights will experience what is called the “muscle plateau”. This is basically nothing but a level which you reach when you workouts may not seem to give you the desired results.
You may be lifting a decent amount of weight but still you may feel that your body has hit a plateau. There are many methods of overcoming this plateau.
This is one of the key areas where a smart exercise routine is differentiated from a merely hard. One of the most effective techniques is to use the shock principle. In this what you do is basically bring about drastic changes in your workout schedule that shocks your body into growth.
Another method is to completely change the order of specific exercises in which you go about normally on a day. For example, if you have the habit of doing the Dumbbell Curls first, then Hammer Curls and then Concentration Curls reverse the order and start from the last.
Listen to Your Inner Rhythm
This is the most important tip; always listen to your inner rhythm. Every human body has its own character and nature, literally and metaphorically.
Not everybody will have the same kind and nature of development. Not everyone can have the same rate of growth by doing identical exercises. What needs to be done is figure out exactly what kind of exercise your body responds to and take that path.
Mesomorphs are those individuals who generally have a broad and muscular physical nature. Their body responds to training much better than other body types.
Ectomorphs are the polar opposite. They have a very narrow and slight frame that sports a lean musculature. Endomorphs are the kind that comes in between. This is the group were a majority of people fall in.
#4 Key Exercises (Muscle Group Wise)
In this part, we shall look at what we consider to be the most effective exercises in terms of growth in strength, endurance and size.
The exercises mentioned in the forthcoming pages have been picked keeping in mind both the beginners as well as people who have been training with weights for a long time. These are all time honoured techniques, which if done the right way can help you achieve what you have set out for.
You may notice that we have concentrated more on exercises that make use of free weights instead of relying on machines. That is because of the fact that, free weights stimulate your muscles better than machines in terms of growth.
And this is also partly the reason why most, if not all the free weight exercises in this section make use of Dumbbells instead of Barbells.
This is because of the fact that using a Dumbbell in each hand as against a Barbell, that makes use of both arms, employs all the stabilizer muscles in your arms, which go a long way in ensuring wholesome development.
We have segregated the exercises in terms of muscle groups. We will be covering the arms and shoulders first, then move on to the chest and back.
Then we will look at the abdominal and at last the legs.
Remember what we had mentioned in the beginning itself, the smartest way to go about weight training is to make sure that your form is correct and proper and to perform those exercises that really utilize your muscle fibres to the fullest rather than those that simply entail lifting the heaviest dumbbell in sight.Also make it a point to adhere to the techniques and tips that we had mentioned in the previous part. We will not be mentioning the repetitions in each set because as we have said in detail earlier, it depends on whether you are exercising for strength or endurance or size. We will, however be mentioning the number of sets, so you can perform the desired number of repetitions as per your priority.
Arms Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curls
These are arguably the most instantly recognizable exercise in the word.
And it doesn’t hurt when the recognition is rivaled only by the efficacy of the exercise. In order to perform them, stand upright with a pair of dumbbells in your hand.
Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Now with elbows stationary, curl the weights up alternatively, one hand at a time. Watch your breathing; inhale while the weight is lowered and exhale when lifting. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Standing Alternate Hammer Curls
This exercise is very similar to the previous exercise. Stand in the same position with your arms hanging by your side, carrying dumbbells. What you have to do is change the way you hold the dumbbells.
Sitting Concentration Curls
Sit down on the edge of a bench and bend over.
Now lift a dumbbell and place your elbow firmly against the inside of your knee.
Lift the weight towards your shoulder and lower it.
Now let us take a look at exercises that hit the Triceps.
Parallel Bar Dips
Stand in the middle of a standard set of parallel bars and prop yourself up using the arms. Now lower the body until the arms are bent at 90 degrees at the elbow.
One Arm Extensions
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and pick up light dumbbell in one arm. Now raise this arm above your head, completely stretched out.
The palms should be facing inwards as in case of the Hammer Curls.
Bend your elbow and bring the weight down till the back of your head. Now raise the weight and go back to the starting position. Inhale when lowering the weight and exhale while lifting. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Pick up a dumbbell and bent over halfway with your back straight. Bring the arm with the weight in line with your torso while holding on to the edge of a bench for support with the other arm.
Shoulder Exercises Dumbbell Overhead Presses
Sit on the edge of a bench and take two moderately heavy dumbbells in your hand. Maintain the torso erect and bend your arms at the elbows completely so that the dumbbells are resting at shoulder height.
This is the starting position.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Pick up a pair of low weight dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the weights by your sides, palms facing inwards.
Dumbbells Front Raises
Adopt the same starting position as the above exercise with nearly the same weights, except with a slight alteration.
Keep the arms in front, weights hanging in front of the thighs.
Now raise them to the front, not above the shoulder level. This variation hits the front shoulder muscles. Inhale when lowering the weight and exhale while lifting. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Exercises for The Pectoral Muscles Pushups
Push ups do not require an explanation.
These can be done literally anywhere where there's even ground. They impact the chest primarily and hit the triceps secondarily.
Inhale when lowering the body and exhale while pushing up. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
These are the quintessential weight lifting exercises. Slot in a moderate amount of weight at the ends of the barbells and lie down on the bench. Position your shoulders under the bar.
Lie down on the bench after taking two light weight dumbbells in your hands, Let the arms drop to your sides, while the elbows are completely bent.
Now bring both the arms up in a hugging motion, weights above your chest, till they touch.
Squeeze your chest muscles for a moment and bring them down again. Inhale when lowering the weight and exhale while lifting. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Exercises for The Back
Let us take a look at a pair of extremely effective exercises for the back. Performing these regularly is more than enough to trigger growth in the back muscles.
Hang on to an overhead bar with your grips shoulder with apart.
Raise your body up till the chin is at the same level as the bar. Now lower yourself again and repeat. Inhale when lowering the body and exhale while pulling yourself up.
Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Yes, Pull ups are extremely difficult, especially for an obese person. But try your best, follow the instructions, and till you can’t perform them, at least try hanging and trying to lift your body as much as you can. In time, you will.
Bent Over Rows
Inhale when lowering the weight and exhale while lifting. Performing 4 to 6 sets will be more than enough, if done with moderately heavy weights.
Given below are two great exercises for the back that we believe can strengthen your core abdominal muscles.
Lie down on your back and keep the arms tied behind the back.
Bend your knees at around 45 degrees, feet flat on the floor.
Now raise you torso while crunching your stomach.
The aim is to perform the crunching action perfectly, instead of simply sitting up. Inhale when lowering the torso and exhale while crunching. Perform 4 to 6 sets.
Lie down on the bench on your back. Now keep legs straight, the toes close to each other and raise them together, about 45 degrees off the level of your torso.
Exercises for the Legs
We have given below two compound exercises that hit the complete legs. Perform them once a week and it shall be more than enough.
Keep a weighted barbell across your shoulders with a towel for support and squat down.
Rise up slowly while leaning a bit to the front. Take care to not perform this exercise when you are already tired because this calls for complete control and form.
Inhale when squatting down and exhale while pushing up. Perform 4 to 6 controlled sets.
And finally here we are!
By now you must have formed a pretty clear picture in your mind as to how you can control the weight gaining tendencies of your body the smart and regular practice of aerobics and by incorporating certain key components in your diet.
You would also be having a good idea as to how you can train with weights in the most efficacious manner by adopting certain key techniques that we have listed herein and by also performing the various exercises that I have mentioned.
As a conclusion all we can tell you is that gaining strength or endurance or size is not an overnight phenomenon.