Importance of hydration in physical exercises (Part 2)

Determinants of intravascular volume

Amount of water being taken in

The intravascular volume (IV) refers to the total amount of fluid that is in your blood vessels. If you are dehydrated, resulting from either severe physical exercises or severe loose bowel movement, otherwise known as diarrhea, your IV shrinks, and your blood pressure decreases. Thus, when you are sweating a lot as a consequence of doing physical exercises, you need to take in waterregularly so that the water that you lost will be replenished.If you have been suffering from severe diarrhea, you need to take in water as needed, or to be inserted with intravenous fluid so that your lost water will be replaced. This process of replacing your lost water is called hydration.

Amount of salt being taken in

When you sweat as a result of doing physical exercises and of hot weather, salt in your body, otherwise known as sodium chloride (NaCl), is lost. Sodium chloride is also lost when you have diarrhea for some time. For this reason, when you do intense physical exercises, or when you are exposed to hot temperature in your work, or when you are having diarrhea, you need to take some amount of salt. For strenuous sport like tennis, there are special drinks which are recommended, and these contain some amount of sodium chloride. For hot temperature, in your work or in your place of residence, it is enough that you take diet with adequate salt—not low or high. For diarrhea, there are tablets containing electrolytes, such as sodium chloride and potassium, that you can take.

The importance of sodium chloride in the maintenance of intravascular volume can be explained through the biological mechanism known as osmosis. The principle of osmosis states that in a compartment where the concentration of sodium is high, much water will go to that compartment until such time that the concentration of the said salt is equal to the other compartments. The net effect is that with high concentration of sodium in a compartment, such as your blood vessels, much water will be retained, increasing your intravascular volume.

 

 

Need for hydration

From the preceding discussion, it is clear that hydration is very important while you do physical exercises. To avoid dehydration and other complications of intense physical exercises, you need to observe and remember the following:

  1. You must drink, drink, drink—before, during, and after doing any physical exercise and throughout the day[1];
  2. When the temperature of the day is higher than usual, you need to take more water and other forms of fluid[1];
  3. If you lack carbohydrates and other sources of sugar, you may slow down in your movements; but if you lack water, you may die from it[1];
  4. If the pacing of your physical exercise is more intense than usual, you will lose more water than you used to be[1];
  5. If you physically exercise in a windy place, lowering the environmental temperature, you will sweat less[1];
  6. If your fitness level is high, you will have more and enlarged sweat glands producing more sweat to cool your body. You also perspire sooner compared to others with low fitness level[1];
  7. Genetics has role in your degree of sweating. If your family members have been sweating a lot, it is greatly possible that you will also have the same predisposition[1];
  8. If you have a bigger body, you will sweat more than those with smaller ones [1];
  9. If you are a man, expectedly, you will sweat more than a woman[1].

 

(To be continued)

Reference:

Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Hydration for Running. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:300-315.

Importance of hydration in physical exercises (Part 1)

Physiological consequences of physical exercises

Burning of energy

When you physically exercise, your muscles will either relax or contract. However, not all muscles will contract at the same time, and not all muscles will relax at the same time. At certain point in time, some muscles will contract, and some will relax. The net result of this is the generation of movement, which could be in the form of breathing, running, walking, dancing, and many more. As the muscles contract and relax, there is burning of energy which is ultimately derived from the foods that you take. Without the foods that you take, the muscles could not efficiently work. Thus, when you exercise without previously taking your meal, you will feel weak and could not continue doing your workout.

Production of heat

When the energy is burned—and the burning is quite fast in physical exercises—there is heat production, as one form of energy is transformed into another. This biological event increases your body temperature.

Sweating

When your body temperature rises, there must be a biological mechanism of lowering it. Otherwise, your body will suffer from overheating, otherwise known as heat stroke. Hence, your body sweats; the more intense your exercise is, the more sweat your body will produce. As the water flows out from your sweat glands located beneath your skin, your body temperature goes down.

Water loss

When you sweat, water and some electrolytes, such as sodium, are lost from your body. If you do not replenish the lost water, you will suffer from a number of consequences.

Consequences of severe water loss

Dehydration

When water loss from severe sweating is so significant, you will suffer from dehydration if you will not have adequate hydration as you physically exercise. There are three gradations of dehydration. These are mild, moderate, and severe dehydration. Whichever the case is, you will need to take adequate water so that one gradation will not progress to a worse situation. If you have reached the stage of severe dehydration, and yet you do not have adequate water replacement, you may die from the so-called hypovolemic shock.

Hypovolemic shock

One of the vital signs of your body is yourblood pressure (BP). It has two figures written in a fraction form. The upper number, or numerator, represents the systolic blood pressure, and the lower number, or the denominator, represents the diastolic blood pressure. The normal systolic pressure ranges from 90 to 140 mm Hg, while the normal diastolic blood pressure is 60 to 90 mm Hg. When your blood pressure is lower than 90/60, you have low blood pressure; when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, you have high blood pressure.

There are two determinants of your blood pressure. These are the cardiac output (CO) and the peripheral resistance (PR). Thus,

Equation 1: BP = CO x PR.

In turn, your CO equals the product of the stroke volume times your heart rate and the PR is the determined by your intravascular volume and the diameter of your blood vessels. If we summarize the relationships of the different variables, we have this equation:

Equation 2:BP = {Stroke volume x heart rate} {Intravascular volume/diameter of your blood vessels}

Based on Equation 2, even if we hold all the other variables as constants, and only the intravascular volume changes, you can conclude that the blood pressure changes. When you lose too much water from any form of physical exercises, the intravascular volume decreases, and your blood pressure drops. When the water loss is too much, your intravascular volume decreases severely and your blood pressure will drop significantly, leading to hypovolemic shock and then death.

(To be continued)

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 7)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Shins[1,2]

The shins refer to the front portions of your lower legs, and the largest muscle in this region is the tibialis anterior, whose main function is to flex your foot upward (dorsiflexion) and to extend your toes [1].Thus, it controls your foot and your leg as you strike the ground. When the muscles in the front portion of your lower leg is weaker compared to the calf muscles—which are located at the back of your lower leg and in opposite area relative to the position of yourshin muscles, you will suffer from the so-called shin splints[2].To prevent this potential imbalance between the shin and the calf muscles, thus preventing shin splints, you can perform the following physical exercises.

 

Strengthening exercises for the shin muscles using body weight

 

Toe lifts[2]

Sit on a chair, and then extend forward your legs resting on your heels until they are around one foot away from where they should be if they are immediately below your knees. Extend your toes until your feet are flat on the ground. Gradually flex your toes toward your knees while keeping your heels on the ground. When you feel that the muscles in front of the shins contract, hold it for 3 to 10 seconds, then relax. Do this 10 times[2].

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with your heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot [2].

Ankle band exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot [2].

 

Foot press[2]

While sitting down, put one of your feet on top of the other. Pull up with the lower foot and resisted by the other foot. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch the positions of your feet and do the same. Do 5 sets for each position [2].

Suggested strengthening workouts using body weight

To wrap up the discussion of the different workouts using your body weight, some of the most important strengthening physical exercises that you can perform are enumeratedhereunder:

  1. Squats, for quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks; {See Powertec (162)}
  2. Push-ups, for your upper body; {See Powertec (161)}
  3. Crunches, for your abdominals; {Powertec (157)}
  4. Sitting leg extensions, for your quadriceps; {See Powertec (162)}
  5. Reverse sit-ups, for your lower abdominals; {See Powertec (157)}
  6. Side leg raises, for your hip abductors;
  7. Chair press, for your hip adductors;
  8. Foot press, for your shins[2]. {See Powertec (164)}

If you do the enumerated physical exercises, start with the large muscle groups then go to the smaller ones. You can add some of the physical exercises that you want to include; however, for as long as your time permits and your body could afford, do all of the abovecited physical exercises at least 3 times a week. By doing these routinely, they will help you improve your performance and avoid injuries[2] while participating in some sport activities.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 6)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Ankles[1,2]

The ankle refers to the joint where your lower leg and your foot are joined. Since the foot requires a number of movements—aside from flexion and extension—a number of muscles (more than 20) hold the two structures together. Largely, these muscles act as flexors and extensors that play a pivotal role in movements and balancing of your body. To provide stability and versatility in your movements, some of these muscles are so long that they are attached at a point as high as the back of your knee[1].

The muscles that greatly influence the movements of your foot are the following:

  • Soleus: This muscle is found at the back of your lower leg. It extends from the back of your knee to your heel. It is very much needed for your walking and standing. When you are falling forward, this muscle contracts so that your foot hits the ground, stabilizing you and maintaining your erect position[1].
  • Gastrocnemius: This is found at the back portion of your lower leg, and it runs over its entire length. It is connected at the back of your knee and to your heel. When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards your upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk because it extends your foot[1].
  • Other muscles: Other muscles that influence the movements of your foot are plantaris, abductor hallucis, tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, flexor digitorum longus, fibularis longus, fibularistertius, andfibularis brevis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the ankle muscles using body weight

Ankle push[2]

You can sit down on the floor and then provide resistance to your foot with your hand as it moves downward, upward, inward, or outward—holding each movement for 10 seconds and doing it for 3 to 5 times [2].

 

 

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with the heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot[2].

Ankle bend exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot[2].

Arches[1,2]

When you look forarches, you are referring to the angles formed at the bottom of your feet by its bones and strengthened by its tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There are three: (1) the medial arch, (2) the lateral arch, and (3) the fundamental longitudinal arch. The arches are actually curves at the bottom of your feet, and they make your walking easier and less taxing for your body[1].

Strengthening exercise for the arches using body weight

Towel exercise[2]

Stand and place one of your feet over a towel. Curl your toes to put the towel under you, with your leg and your heel not moving at all. Keep on doing it until the towel is totally under you. Reverse the process by pushing the towel away from you. Do this for 2 to 3 times for each foot[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 5)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Quadriceps [1,2]

Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps using body weight

Sitting leg extensions[2]

Sit on a chair or on the edge of a table. Extend your one leg and tighten it, holding your kneecap parallel to the floor. Tighten your muscles for 2 to 3 seconds in isometric contraction—wherein there is no movement at the joint but the muscle fibers are working or contracting. Complete 10 to 20 times. You can repeat the same procedure with the other leg. If you believe your legs have grown stronger, you can add a 2-pound ankle weight and do the physical exercise [2].

Squats[2]

Stand with your feet around one foot apart, and then slowly squat to one-fourth or one-third of the way down and hold for 2 or 3 seconds before slowly returning to the starting or standing position. Complete 10 to 20 times. Do not squat exceeding halfway down to avoid injury! To provide yourself with added protection, you can do chair squats wherein you can lower your buttocks slightly over the chair and proceed doing the full exercise as described in the preceding[2].

Buttocks[1,2]

The principal muscle in the buttocks is the gluteus maximus, and it is regarded as one of the strongest muscles in the human body. It is attached to the coccyx, otherwise known as tailbone, and to the nearby bones. It is responsible for the movement of the hip and the thigh. Specifically, it aids in standing up from a sitting position, climbing stairs, and in maintaining erect position[1]. Other muscles in the buttocks are gluteus minimus and medius[2].

Strengthening exercises for the buttocks using body weight

Butt raisers [2]

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. With your heels serving as the fulcrum, raise you pelvis one inch off the floor and hold it for 10 seconds, release and relax. Do this exercise for 5 to 10 times [2].

Pelvic tilt[2]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis from the floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for 3 to 10 seconds while exhaling. You can do this for 3 to 5 times [2].

Hips and groin[1,2]

The most prominent muscle in the groin is the gracilis. It is quite a long muscle because it extends from the pelvic bone up to the bone of the lower leg. Its main functionsare to assist in knee flexion and to adduct the legs. Adducting the legs means bringing them from the outside toward the center; hence, it means bringing the feet and legs together at the center. It is also responsible for stabilizing and rotating the knee inward. Aside from the gracilis, there are other important muscles in the groin. These include the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and the adductor magnus[1].

Strengthening exercises for the hips and groin using body weight

 

Inside leg raises (for the adductors) [1,2]

Lie on your right side with your head resting on the outstretched right arm and your left arm aligned with your body. Flex your left leg at the knee and place the left lower leg in front of the right upper leg. Slowly raise your stretched right leg as high and as far as you can and then slowly returning to the starting position. Complete 2 or 3 sets of 10 with each leg. If you feel that your adductors have gained strength, you can add weight in your ankle to increase the resistance[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 4)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Upper body[1,2]

When you mention upper body, you are referring mainly to the arms. Thus, the muscles in this region will be discussed, and the most important ones are: (1) biceps brachii, (2) triceps, (3) brachioradialis, (4) extensor carpi radialis longus, and (5) deltoid muscle. The biceps is very much attached to the humerus, which is the bone of the upper arm. With that position, it rotates the forearm and flexes the forearm at the elbow. The triceps, on the other hand, is located at the back of the upper arm, and it assists in straightening the whole arm. The brachioradialis covers parts of the upper and lower arms, and it is mainly responsible for flexing the forearm at the elbow. In addition, it helps in the rotation of the forearm both outwardly and inwardly[1].

The extensor carpi radialis longus is located near the brachioradialis, and it is one of the five major muscles responsible for moving the hand at the wrist in different directions. When you clench your fist, this muscle becomes visible as it rises below your skin. The deltoid is the main muscle at your shoulder, and it controls all movements arising from the shoulder joint[1].

Strengthening exercises for the muscles in the upper body using body weight

Push-ups [2]                               

Lie flat with your face against the floor. With the use of your arms, raise your body from the floor until your arms are fully extended. When your arms are fully extended, ensure that your hands are parallel,while your arms are perpendicular, to the floor. From an elevated position, go down to your starting point. Complete two or three sets of five, having breaks in between sets to perform other physical exercises. Gradually, increase your daily goal to sets of 20 or so with the right form [2].

Reverse push-ups [2]

Stand with your back facing a table or chair. Place your hands on the table or chair with your extended legs moved forward in front of you. Slowly lower your body towards the table or chair and with your legs slightly flexed at the knees and your heels serving as your fulcrum. After lowering your body as far as you can, you can return to your starting position. Do 10 to 20 times. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can select another support which is lower than a chair or table. A good suggestion is a bench. Before starting this exercise, however, ensure that your support is in good condition and stable so that you will not be injured. This specific exercise is intended for the triceps which are located at the back of the upper arms [2].

Quadriceps[1,2]

The quadriceps are group of four muscles located at the front of the thigh. These muscles are: (1) vastus lateralis, (2) vastus medialis, (3) vastus intermedius, and (4) rectus femoris. Each of the vastus muscles is attached to the femur, which is the primary bone of the upper leg, and is attached down under in the patella or the kneecap. The rectus femoris is also attached to the patella; however, in the higher portion, it is attached to the hip bone—and not to the femur[1].

As suggested by their location, the quadriceps are very important in extending the lower legs at the knees. In addition, these are used for walking, running, and other physical activities; hence, they are prone to injuries, such as strains, tears, and ruptures [1].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 3)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Calf muscles [1,2]

When you are talking about the calf muscles, you are actually referring to: (1) the gastrocnemius, and (2) the soleus muscles. Both of them are located at the back of your lower legs, and play important role when you walk, run, jump, and stand at the balls of your feet. These two muscles are attached to your heel bone by the so-called Achilles tendon.When you overwork your Achilles tendon, you will have inflammation on it, and this is called tendinitis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the calf muscles using body weight

Toe raises[2]

Face the wall and place one hand against it to support you. Slowly raise your whole body on your toes then slowly return your heel to the floor. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 20 toe raises. In between, you can have a 1-minute rest. As your legs get stronger, you can hold additional weights in your hands or place barbell over your shoulders behind the neck to increase the resistance[2].

Hamstrings[1,2]

The hamstrings are muscles that occupy the back portion of your thigh. One of these is calledthe biceps femoris which is a two-headed muscle. One of its heads is attached to the ischiumwhich is the lower and back part of the hip bone and the other one is attached to the femur which is the main bone of your upper leg. The other hamstring muscles are the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. Lumping the three muscles togetherinto one, their main actions are to flex the knee and extend the hip. In addition to these main functions, however, the biceps femoris is involved in the internal and external rotation of the legs [1].

Strengthening exercises for the hamstrings using body weight

Hamstring curls[2]

Stand in front of a table or any other object whose height is at the level of your thigh and which could serve as your support. Place your hands on the supporting table and bend backward your one leg at the knee, maintaining that your thigh is still aligned with your upper body. Slowly raise your foot towards your buttocks as far as you can and slowly return to the starting point. Finish two or three sets of 20 with each leg[2].

Back muscles[1,2]

The three muscles at the back are the following: (1) multifidus, (2)longissimus, and (3) spinalis.The multifidus muscle stabilizes and supports the spinal column. Thus, it provides stiffness to it[1].The longissimus muscles, on the other hand, flex the head and neck on the same side, and they extend the vertebral column [3]. Finally, the spinalis muscle extends and laterally bends the neck and the trunk [1].

Strengthening exercises for the back muscles using body weight

Back extensions[2]

Lie flat on yourfront abdomen with your hands under your shoulders as if you are about to do push-ups. Slowly raise your chest up using solely your back muscles and slightly assisted by your arms. As your chest goes up, exhale and pause at the top of the exercise. Go down slowly and inhale as you do it. Complete two or three sets of 10 [2].

Alternate extensions[2]

Lie flat on your front abdomen with your arms extended in front of you. Rest your forehead on a folded towel on the floor. Raise one of your arms simultaneously with the opposite leg. Maintain it for three seconds and then slowly lower it down to the starting position. Complete ten repetitions for each.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longissimus

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 2)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The external oblique muscles serve as the cover of the sides of the abdomen. In addition, it helps in the rotation of the trunk and the spine. Serving as further support to the abdominal wall, theinternal oblique muscles are located beneath the external oblique muscles; thus, they also serve as cover of the abdomen at its sides[2].

The internal oblique muscles help in forced respiration, and aid in raising the pressure inside the abdominal cavity. They also rotate and turn the trunk with assistance from other muscles. More importantly, they serve to counteract the actions of the diaphragm[2], resulting in coordinated fashion of regulating the volume of the chest cavity.

The transverse abdominis is the muscle in the side and front of the abdomen. It lies underneath the internal oblique muscles; therefore, it follows that it is the deepest muscle in the front and side of the abdomen. Its main function is to compress the ribs and the abdominal organs. In addition, it stabilizes the thorax and the pelvis. It plays a great role when a pregnant woman delivers her child[3], by pushing the child through and out in the pelvic canal.

Probably unknown to you, there is a back portion of the abdomen, and one of the most prominent muscles in this region is the latissimus dorsi. It is responsible for extending, adducting, and rotating the arms[2]—aside from covering the abdomen at the back.

Strengthening exercises for the abdominals using the body weight

Crunches (Modified sit-ups)[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your hands placed over your chest. Slowly raise your head and your shoulders around six inches off the floor. Remain as it is for two seconds then return to the starting point.Exhale as you sit up and inhale as you come down. Do two to three sets of 10 to 20 crunches daily. These exercises are intended and good for your rectus abdominis[1].

Reverse sit-ups[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your side and with the palms down.Keeping your knees still bent, bring your legs up followed by lifting your pelvis towards the chest. Exhale as you gradually lift your pelvis. You can do two to three sets of 10. This exercise is intended for the transverse abdominis muscle[1].

Pelvic tilt[1]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis fromthe floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for three to ten seconds while exhaling. You can do this for three to five times[1].

Calf muscles [1]

The gastrocnemius muscle is found at the back portion of the lower leg, andit runs overits entire length. It is connected at the back of the knee and to the heel.When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards the upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk[2].

The other component of the calf muscles is the soleus. It is located at the back of the lower leg, in close proximity with thegastrocnemius. It is primarily used to push the ground when you walk. In addition, it is very important in dancing and running. To prevent you from falling forward, the soleus will contract to pull your feet against the ground, maintaining your upright posture[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_abdominal_muscle

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 1)

Definition

Strengthening physical exercises are movements that you need to do repeatedly in order to develop and improve the strength of a group of muscles. The groups of muscles are abdominals, ankles, arch, back, buttocks, calf muscles, hamstrings, hips/groin, quadriceps, shins, and upper body[1]. As to which group(s) of muscles you would like to develop depends on your purpose. If you would like to be a good runner, then the groups of muscles that you need to strengthen are the calves, hamstrings, and buttocks. If you would like to firm up your abdomen, then you strengthen your abdominals. If you would like to have firm and sturdy shoulders and chest, then strengthen your muscles in your upper body.

Means of doing strengthening exercises

Using body weight[1]

In this method of strengthening exercises, you do not use any gym equipment and gadgets. You use your own body to do them. Examples are modified sit-ups, reverse sit-ups, pelvic tilt, ankle push, towel sweep[1], and many more. This means that you can do these exercises at home, without even going to the gym.

Using free weights [1]

In contrast to the exercises using your body weight, you may need to report to the gym if you will use the free weights. Generally, there are two kinds of free weights that you can use: (1) handheld dumbbells, or (2) the weight plates on barbells[1]. The need for gym in these exercises is not solely due to the availability of these equipment; more importantly, there are personnel in the gym who could guide you on how to properly use these equipment.

Using machines[1]

Using body weight and free weights will not totally strengthen all of your muscles. In addition, you will use some machines which are intended to strengthen other sets of muscles. Examples of these machines are the biceps curl machine, triceps machine, pull-down machine[1], and many others. When you visit the gym for the first time, you can look around and familiarize yourself with these machines. Each machine has its own use and purpose. Use it (them) if it (they) is (are) what you need. Thus, before using any machine in the gym, consult any fitness adviser around so that you could be guided accordingly.

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The abdominalsare muscles located in the front section of your abdomen. Their function is to provide you with postural support, protect your internal organs located in the abdomen and pelvic area, and to allow you to perform some movements, such as rotating the spine, bending, breathing, and defecating. The most prominent muscles are the rectus abdominis, external oblique muscles, internal oblique musclesand the latissimus dorsi.The rectus abdominis runs downward from the sternumdown to the pelvic bone, and the external oblique muscles are located at its sides, running downward in oblique direction—hence, the word external oblique. Beneath the external oblique muscles are the internal oblique muscles. Covering the back is the latissimus dorsi muscle[2].POWERTEC

Figure 1.0.Diagrammatic illustration showing the major muscles in the front abdomen.

The rectus abdominis is activated when you do crunches because it is responsible for pulling the rib and the pelvis toward each other. In addition, it curves the back. In terms of bodily functions, it is very important during the delivery of your child, for bowel movements, and for coughing. When you have a bulging belly, the accumulated fat is lying over your rectus abdominis. Thus, when you do periodic physical exercises for the abdominals, the fats will be burned, and you will see the exposed rectus abdominis as a six-pack muscle[2].

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock

Symptoms that could prevent you from doing physical exercises (2)

The Symptoms

Fast heart rate

You will surely know when your heart rate is faster than normal. Others call this sudden increase in heart rate as palpitation, and lately this has been used to refer to this medical situation. If you have palpitation—whether taking place so suddenly or has been there for some time—you need to have medical consultation because, if you do not, your heart will suffer. In some people, palpitation takes place when they have taken a cup—or more—of coffee. When this takes place, all you have to do is wait until the effect of caffeine which is so preponderant in your coffee wanes, and your heart rate returns to normal. However, if your heart rate has been so fast for some time compared to your previous ones, then you need to see a medical doctor because you might have a problem in your thyroid gland, and you will need medication(s) to control it. If your heart rate is fast, refrain from having physical exercises because it will increase all the more if you do. Return to having physical exercises only once your heart rate is restored to normal.

Swelling of the legs

If you have swollen legs, it could mean a lot of things. Foremost, it is possible that you have kidney or heartdisease. Thus, you need to consult a medical doctor who will work you up and find your problem. By doing physical examinations, your medical doctor could immediately determine if you have a heart disease. More often than not, if you have swollen legs and you have a history of high blood pressure, your heart has been enlarged, and it is beginning to fail. In another saying, you are starting to have heart failure. Therefore, you are not allowed to have physical exercises for the moment, and you will need clearance from your medical doctor before you can return to the gym.

The other possibility is you have been suffering from kidney disease. Hence, your medical doctor will request you to undergo a urine test which is popularly known as urinalysis. Urinalysis is a very simple test, and it is very cheap. However, your medical doctor could derive a lot of information from it. If your problem is a simple infection, you will be prescribed with the most appropriate antibiotic(s), and you can return to the gym after controlling the infection. In some instances, however, the problem is irreversible or untreatable. In such case, you will be barred from returning to the gym, especially if there is difficulty in controlling your blood pressure.

Difficulty in sleeping

In some people, difficulty in sleeping is being experienced. Medically, this is known as insomnia. If you are one of them, then you need to consult a medical doctor because lack of sleep could cause accident while you are doing work out in the gym. There are a number of possibilities to consider if you have insomnia. Firstly, you might have anemia—a blood disorder wherein the number of your red blood cells is low. If you have anemia, your heart rate is usually faster than normal; this prevents you from falling asleep. Secondly, you might have a problem in your thyroid gland which could be hyperthyroidism. If you have been suffering from hyperthyroidism, your heart has been being overworked, aside from the fact that you have been experiencing insomnia. Hence, if you have been suffering from insomnia, consult a medical doctor at once so that you could be prescribed with the necessary medication(s). Do not insist on having your physical exercises, lest you will meet accident or aggravate your medical condition.