From fit to fittest

From fit to fittest

In the past few years, most urban areas in India have seen a resurgence of fitness obsession. People of all ages, fitness levels and waist sizes are joining fitness groups, downloading fitness applications and hitting the gym and parks regularly. A lot of the new fitness trends have married the science of health and wellness to technology, allowing for a greater level of fitness, taking into account our busy lifestyles. Here is a look at the hottest fitness trends that will surely make their way to a gym near you – if they haven’t already, that is.

High-intensity interval training
HIIT, which involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, jumps to the top of this list. These exercise programmes are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. This is a training method that is more effective for many people with varied fitness levels.

The reason it is so popular is the way low to moderate intensity levels of exercise are alternated with high-intensity training circuits. HIIT is believed to burn more fat, as well as pull in more oxygen into the body, thus allowing for longer levels of exercise without fatigue. HIIT allows you to increase fat loss as well as aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

In case you are looking at training in sports like running, this would mean alternate bursts of running and jogging, while in the gym, you could use machines that encourage training different body parts like biceps, shoulder and abs in circuit series.

For example, Tabata is a form of HIIT. Tabata intervals can be incorporated into riding bikes, running, exercises using your body weight, plyometrics and strength training, but there is one variable that doesn’t change — the formula. Tabata intervals consist of cycle rounds, full-throttle effort, followed by few seconds of rest. You can do as many Tabata intervals in a row as you’d like; but for most fitness enthusiasts, if you’re going full-throttle, 20-30 minutes is the upper limit.

Strength training
Strength training or resistance training, as it also started being called in order to make it more gender friendly, remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete physical activity programme for all physical activity levels. Strength training becomes the base for any other exercise format or sport that you would choose to follow. Strength training is basically exercising to resistance and it allows your body to build a muscular form to the desired level.

This is a great way to tone loose muscles and lose body weight. In today’s sedentary lifestyle, when we spend a lot of our time sitting, strength training also allows you to build stronger muscles overall and increase your lean body mass (the non-fat part of your body). However, be cautious when you embark on a strength training programme as you need to ensure proper warm up and cool down of the muscles to avoid injury. Workout with a trainer or in a gym if you wish to try out strength training, as it should not be done without proper knowledge and supervision.

While strength training, remember:

n Posture is important. Stand tall with your chin up, chest lifted and shoulders up, back and down.

n Don’t use momentum to lift weights – engage your muscles.

n If using machines, take a quick look at the placard on the machine. Read the instructions and understand which muscle(s) you will be using.

n One of the most efficient ways to build muscle is to do compound exercises — those that work more than one muscle group at a time.

n If you aren’t feeling anything after a few reps, the weight or resistance is probably too light. Change your weight or the machine so that you feel fatigue after a few reps.

Group personal training
This is a good way for personalised training, motivation and networking. The advantage about small group training is the way it allows all members to customise workouts as well as bring in the fun element. While a lot of group training activities happen outdoors, especially for those who like to train for marathons or endurance sports, it is also a hot new trend in gyms and fitness centres.

The beauty of group training is the way it brings a ‘social’ element to training, where gyms are bringing in machinery that allows for groups of six to fifteen to train together. It brings in a healthy spirit of sharing and competition to fitness, which can otherwise be mundane. If you are interested in joining a group training, lookout for community running groups.

Body weight training
Body weight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness. This is an ideal workout for people who do not like to go to the gym or are not natural runners. It gives most of the benefits of working with machines but in this case, the resistance, and the ‘pull’ factor for the muscle training, as well as the body shaping comes from using the weight of the body against or with itself.

In some forms, body weight training has always existed, specially with push-ups or pull-ups, but today it is being combined with more trendy exercise techniques by using resistant bands. Following are some  effective exercises you can perform:

n Push-ups: Get down on the floor or use the wall for a beginner option. Either way keep your abs contracted and your back straight.

n Tricep dips: Start by sitting on your behind, knees bent and arms braced behind you with fingers pointed towards your back. Then, push up into the crab position.

n Leg-ups: Get down on all fours and lift your leg behind you. Squeeze your butt as you lower and lift for maximum benefit. Repeat it with the other leg.

n Sit-ups: Bend your knees, hands behind your head, and roll up, engaging your abdominal muscles like a crunch. Move slowly and don’t use the momentum. Its quality and not quantity that counts.

n Full body roll-ups: Lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead. Inhale and exhale as you uncurl your body one vertebra at a time back into the floor.

(The author is chairman & MD, Cardio Fitness Pvt Ltd, Delhi)

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