Panther-like poise

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 15:10 IST

Weight-training is a beautiful way of getting fit and able. Dumbbells are a muscle’s best friend. “Rebuild your strength, tone up!” they rumble as the muscle hefts. The pay-offs are tremendous. A solid core stability in the abdominal structure. Heightened bone density. Strengthened shoulders that can casually shrug on a bagful of books, groceries, stuff.  A huge spike in self-esteem and self-assurance. 

An effortlessness in movements like a sleek panther’s—poised, graceful, controlled in your stride.

Weight-training doesn’t just power muscles, it powers circulation too. Every rhythmic movement performs an inner massage. The muscles get trained to move seamlessly, easily from relaxation to tension and back, coaxing the venous blood and lymph fluids to flow efficiently, steadily towards heart and lungs.

Yet, falsehoods about this wonderfully rejuvenating activity persist. And we must clear the air with positive facts:

Weight-training causes muscle-obesity.

It doesn’t. It defines your muscles where you begin to see a few cuts that make you look fitter, more athletic than if you didn’t weight-train.

Start with 2.5 pound dumbbells. Move on to 5 pounders as your muscles get conditioned. Aim for 10 + 10 repetitions of each movement for different parts. Keep your motions smooth without jerks. And don’t fall into that false ‘No pain, no gain’ pit. That’s nonsense. The weight should be comfortable, not crushing. Weight-training 10 minutes,  three times a week is enough for good health and fitness.

If you stop weight-training, the muscle turns to fat.

It’s not possible. Muscle is living, metabolic tissue, fat is inert blubber. Can cheese turn into chalk? What happens is: when you weight-train, the muscle increases in size and occupies more space. When you stop weight-training, the muscle shrinks, and fat occupies the freed-up space if you eat more than you burn.  In any case, why stop weight-training? Even if you’re constantly travelling, use half-litre bottles filled with water as your dumbbells. Half litre equals half kg.

You need steroids and supplements 

No, no, no! Steroids harm your health and supplements are mostly marketing add-ons in a booming industry. The muscle needs protein and you can get it from egg-whites, a bowl of low-fat curd, a glass of low-fat milk or sprouted pulses. Winner’s wisdom: Have protein within 60 minutes after you finish weight-training.

Weight-training strains your joints.

Jogging on a hard surface, running up and down stairs and lunges strain the joints. Whereas weight-training is recommended for people with arthritis. Why? Weights strengthen the muscles around the joints. The strengthened muscles do their job by holding up the joints. For example, if you sit on a chair, slowly raise each leg sporting an ankle-weight until it’s parallel to the floor, hold it for a count of 5 and do this 5 times, the muscles around the knee-joints become strong and taut. They then hold your thigh up and don’t allow it to slump and put pressure on the knee-joint. This eases soreness and stiffness.

Only strong people can weight-train. 

Not at all. Weight-training can be done by anybody. If you can lift half a kg of potatoes, you can lift a dumbbell weighing half a kg. Light weight-training can make you 30 percent stronger than you are; moderate weight-training, 50 percent.
Finally, as the Master reminds, “He is not strong who throws people around; he is strong who withholds himself from the weakness of anger.”

(Published 22 March 2013, 15:10 IST)

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