Weight training technique: balance

I may or may not have been bored in my British Lit. class the other day.

I may or may not have used the crayons that were handed out as a part of the lesson that day to draw this instead:

This single piece of paper represents one of the greatest secrets I have learned in my college weight training class thus far: the principle of balance.

What it does:

By performing the exercise on a smaller platform, the abdominals and other stabilizer muscles are encouraged to engage in order to keep the body, um, balanced so it won’t fall.

Why it’s necessary:

Just like the framework of a house keeps it from crashing down, your core (abdominal muscles) supports your body and keeps it from toppling over. This concept is important for those who want add upper-body muscle; when your body realizes it has a strong enough core to support more weight up top, it will be more willing to add muscle up in your shoulders, biceps, pectorals, etc.

Why it’s challenging:

Balance exercises are a wake-up call for the abs; we live in a cradle-style world, where we sit in rounded, plushy seats, and maintaining a good posture seems to be a thing of the past. In effect, the core has felt no need to build itself up, so most of us have weak cores.

In addition to getting the abs to do their job, the mere principle of engaging more muscles in a single exercise will intensify the workout.

Why it rocks:

Besides creating a more hardcore (yes, punny) exercise, adding the principle of balance transfers immediately to enhancing the active lifestyle. Activities like surfing, volleyball, skateboarding, rock-climbing, soccer, skiing, being a ninja, etc. will become easier as a result of promoting your body’s ability to balance.

Get on it!

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Best drug EVER.

You know that hype about endorphins? How they give you that “runner’s high?” Oh it’s so true.

Despite the fact that I woke up way earlier than a college student would prefer, despite the fact that the fluorescent lights in my 8:20 class made my eyes feel like they were melting out of my head, despite the fact my test in Greek that morning had me stressed out…

I feel so happy now!

Some time after lunch, I went to the gym for a nice hour-long workout, predominantly on the bike machine. Was I really wanting to go workout? Not really, a nap sounded much better.

But I feel sooooo happy now!

I think if my roommate had been in the dorm when I returned post-workout, I probably would have hugged her.

Endorphins: best drug EVER.

Top 3 steps to health

If you’re looking to get in shape, here are three steps that will give you a foundational mindset essential to improving your physical-set.

STEP #1: Realize that this whole getting-in-shape thing won’t happen overnight, nor is it simply a month-long ordeal. This is a lifetime commitment, and the most important thing you can do for your health is realize this. The correct aim should be “Healthy Lifestyle,” not simply to lose weight or get a six pack…which are okay to have in mind as goals, but sometimes those types of goals can be either frustrating or unrealistic, whereas taking the steps toward healthful living will provide a lasting result and a better perspective of what your goals should be.  Personally, when I actually started training and watching what I ate to get into better shape (mind you, I was already active and had relatively good eating habits) it took me at least two years of consistency to get the results I desired.  If you think you can lose-it-all or gain-it-all in weeks and then never pick up a dumbbell or an apple again, then you can kiss your lean dreams goodbye. I’m sorry if that’s not happy news, but it’s the truth.

STEP #2: On the same lines as the first tip, know that sacrifices must be made. Time. Cravings. Comfort. But these sacrifices should be worth it; directly for your goals and indirectly for building self-discipline. Consider this: would you rather eat burgers and milkshakes every day or have a waistline? Would you rather watch hours of TV or turn those flaps under your arms into nice, toned triceps? Just wondering.

STEP #3: Equally important as the previous two steps, you must know that getting into shape doesn’t have to be torture and misery. Of course, it’s probably won’t be “easy,” but you don’t have to do “So-and-So’s Supreme Daily Hour of Death” or go out running every day for two hours and hate every minute of it. Nor do you have to eat nothing but lettuce and protein shakes (which is actually really bad for you, but more on that later). Living a healthy lifestyle should be natural and invigorating.

I hope this is helpful and encouraging to you, and I will be writing more health tips in the future!