Zac's Fitness for You - Focus on Exercise

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

To produce the lithe, lean, well-muscled and toned body that you desire you must undertake both aerobic and resistance training.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Aerobic Exercise


Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of relatively low intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.
Aerobic literally means "living in air", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.
Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.
Aerobic exercise and fitness can be contrasted with anaerobic exercise, of which strength training and short-distance running are the most salient examples.
The two types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle.
In most conditions, anaerobic exercise occurs simultaneously with aerobic exercises because the less efficient anaerobic metabolism must supplement the aerobic system due to energy demands that exceed the aerobic system's capacity.
What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed "solely aerobic", because it is designed to be low-intensity enough not to generate lactate via pyruvate fermentation, so that all carbohydrate is aerobically turned into energy.
Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:

Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
Strengthening muscles, to a limited degree, throughout the body
Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression
Reducing the risk for diabetes.
Burns body fat, to a limited extent, while building leaner muscle.

The best possible form of aerobic exercise is swimming, which is very sparing on the joints, and if you are unable to swim, then this would be a good time to learn.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

Beckenham Spa Pool
In order to combine aerobic with resistance exercise it's a good idea to choose a leisure centre which has a good pool.
Anyone with a history of cardio-vascular disease should be very careful about swimming.
If you haven't swum for some time, take it very easy to begin with.
Any style is satisfactory, although the Butterfly (Fly) or Dolphin Crawl are not recommended except for the experienced.
Speed is not essential. The object of the exercise is to raise the rate of respiration, and the heart rate, for an extended period - but begin very slowly for short periods, taking regular rests.
When you can swim for 30 minutes without too much trouble consider using 'swimming gloves' (available from

Swimmers wear gloves during training to increase water resistance, with the webbed fingers spreading wide to create more drag.
The added resistance provides more work for the upper body, giving the shoulders, arms, chest and back an intense workout and toning muscles well beyond normal swimming.
Even the legs are forced to kick harder to propel the body, toning the thighs, hamstrings and calves.
Training with swim gloves builds strength and, in turn, improves a person's swimming stroke, creating smoother movement and enhanced technique for better in-pool performance.

Beckenham Spa Pool
Aside from strengthening muscles, swimming gloves force the entire body to work harder to fight through the added water resistance, intensifying an already effective aerobic workout.
Sustained training with swim gloves will result in increased endurance, since the body's cardiovascular system adapts to the stress placed on it due to the fierce resistance.
Once it is possible to swim comfortably with swimming gloves, the next step is to use wrist weights (available from
These can, at a later date, be combined with swimming gloves to increase the workload while swimming.
One of the main advantages of using these aids is that they can dramatically reduce the time spent in the pool - after all you have better things to do that swim up and down your local leisure centre pool for hours on end.
This high intensity aerobic pool work out will do wonders for your cardio-vascular efficiency, and will ensure good 'definition' and excellent shape for the muscles that you will be building in the gym.

What to Wear in the Pool

ZAC says .... what you wear when you exercise is extremely important.
It is part of your mental preparation for your workout.
You can feel good by looking good and feeling good will undoubtedly improve your overall performance while you train.

For the ladies - DO NOT wear a bikini.
Bikinis are for sunbathing - not exercising.
Real athletes (and you will be a real athlete) wear professional gear.
For ladies the premier label is, of course, Speedo, who produce well designed professional swimsuits
For that really professional look there is a 'body skin' which is a cover-all ladies swimsuit which manages to be devastatingly attractive, while also being practical and extremely efficient in the pool.
This style of ladies swimwear is also highly suitable for ladies who have to consider religious sensibilities when undertaking pool-based exercise.

DO NOT Wear floppy so-called 'board shorts' (you are not surfing), which are probably more suitable for gardening 
'Jammers' are acceptable (A jammer is a style of swimsuit used mainly in competition to obtain speed advantages.
They are made of nylon and lycra/spandex material and have a form fitting design to reduce water resistance.
They provide moderate coverage from the mid-waist to the area above the knee, somewhat resembling cycling shorts or compression shorts worn by many athletes.

It is wise to wear a swimmer's 'jock-strap' or thong underneath Jammers.
They provide greater leg coverage than swim briefs and square leg suits, although they also have slightly more water resistance.) (available from

More professional swimwear for men and boys are 'leg-skins'. (A Leg-skin is a type of competitive swimwear worn by male swimmers.

Most leg-skins (available from are made of technologically advanced lycra-based fabrics designed to hug the body tightly and provide increased speed and decreased drag resistance in the water.
The leg-skin covers from the swimmer's mid-waist to his ankle and resembles leggings.

Tom Daley - Speedos
The disadvantages of leg-skins is that they are difficult and time consuming to put on, and are also very, very expensive.
Leg-skins also benefit from the wearing of a swimmers 'jock-strap' or thong underneath (available from

For the daring (a good physique is essential, so perhaps these can be invested in when your training begins to show results), the most comfortable and efficient swimwear are 'Japan-cut' bikini briefs as produced by Toot (available from, Speedo (see Tom Daley) and Arena (available from

Swim goggles are absolutely essential for long periods in the pool, especially if you swim front crawl.
DO NOT use Speedo as they are expensive considering they often leak and 'mist up'.
The best, and most comfortable swim goggles are made by the Chinese company Yingfa.
Their best, and most expensive goggles have mirror lens coatings which make them look very stylish (available from

Beckenham Spa Pool
Of course swimming up and down the pool can get a little boring.
Technology, however, can come to your aid.
To alleviate your boredom Speedo have designed their revolutionary underwater MP3 player, which will keep you happily entertained with your favourite music for nine hours - not that we suggest that you spend that long in the pool.
(available from

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Resistance Training

Resistance training is a form of strength training in which each effort is performed against a specific opposing force generated by resistance (i.e. resistance to being pushed, squeezed, stretched or bent).
Exercises are isotonic if a body part is moving against the force.
Exercises are isometric if a body part is holding still against the force.
Resistance exercise is used to develop the strength and size of skeletal muscles.
Properly performed, resistance training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.
The goal of resistance training is to gradually and progressively overload the musculature system so it gets stronger.
Research shows that regular resistance training will strengthen and tone muscles and increase bone mass.
Full range of motion is important in resistance training because muscle overload occurs only at the specific joint angles where the muscle is worked.

The Theory of Muscle Hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy is an increase in the size of muscle cells.
It differs from muscle hyperplasia, which is the formation of new muscle cells.
A range of stimuli can increase the volume of muscle cells.
Summarizing - these changes occur as an adaptive response that serves to increase the ability to generate force or resist fatigue in anaerobic conditions.


Anabolism (from Greek ana, "upward", and ballein, "to throw") is the set of metabolic pathways that construct molecules from smaller units.
These reactions require energy.
One way of categorizing metabolic processes, whether at the cellular, organ or organism level is as 'anabolic' or as 'catabolic', which is the opposite.
Anabolism is powered by catabolism, where large molecules are broken down into smaller parts and then used up in respiration.
Many anabolic processes are powered by adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Anabolic processes tend toward "building up" organs and tissues.
These processes produce growth and differentiation of cells and increase in body size, a process that involves synthesis of complex molecules.
Examples of anabolic processes include the growth and mineralization of bone and increases in muscle mass. Endocrinologists have traditionally classified hormones as anabolic or catabolic, depending on which part of metabolism they stimulate.
The balance between anabolism and catabolism is also regulated by circadian rhythms.

Strength Training

Strength training typically produces a combination of the two different types of hypertrophy: contraction against 80 to 90% of the one repetition maximum for 2–6 repetitions (reps) causes myofibrillated hypertrophy to dominate (as in powerlifters, olympic lifters and strength athletes), while several repetitions (generally 8 – 12 for bodybuilding) against a sub-maximal load facilitates mainly sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (professional bodybuilders and endurance athletes).
The first measurable effect is an increase in the neural drive stimulating muscle contraction.
Within just a few days, an untrained individual can achieve measurable strength gains resulting from "learning" to use the muscle.
As the muscle continues to receive increased demands, the synthetic machinery is upregulated.
Although all the steps are not yet clear, this upregulation appears to begin with the ubiquitous second messenger system (including phospholipases, protein kinase C, tyrosine kinase, and others).
These, in turn, activate the family of immediate-early genes, including c-fos, c-jun and myc.
These genes appear to dictate the contractile protein gene response.
Progressive overload is considered the most important principle behind hypertrophy, so increasing the weight, repetitions (reps), and sets will all have a positive impact on growth.
It is generally believed that if more than 15 repetitions per set is possible, the weight is too light to stimulate maximal growth.

Anaerobic Training

Experts and professionals differ widely on the best approaches to specifically achieve muscle growth (as opposed to focusing on gaining strength, power, or endurance); it was generally considered that consistent anaerobic strength training will produce hypertrophy over the long term, in addition to its effects on muscular strength and endurance.
As testosterone is one of the body's major growth hormones, on average, men find hypertrophy much easier to achieve than women.

Factors Affecting Hypertrophy

Several biological factors such as age and nutrition can affect muscle hypertrophy.
During puberty in males, hypertrophy occurs at an increased rate.
Natural hypertrophy normally stops at full growth in the late teens.
Muscular hypertrophy can be increased through strength training and other short duration, high intensity anaerobic exercises.
Lower intensity, longer duration aerobic exercise generally does not result in very effective tissue hypertrophy; instead, endurance athletes enhance storage of fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, as well as neo-vascularization.
An adequate supply of amino acids is essential to produce muscle hypertrophy.

Protein Synthesis

Ultimately the message filters down to alter the pattern of protein expression. The additional contractile proteins appear to be incorporated into existing myofibrils (the chains of sarcomeres within a muscle cell). There appears to be some limit to how large a myofibril can become: at some point, they split.
These events appear to occur within each muscle fiber, that is, hypertrophy results primarily from the growth of each muscle cell, rather than an increase in the number of cells.
Skeletal muscle cells are however unique in the body in that they can contain multiple nuclei, and the number of nuclei can increase.
Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle tissue, and inhibits protein synthesis.
The short-term increase in protein synthesis that occurs subsequent to resistance training returns to normal after approximately 28 hours in adequately fed male youths.
A small study performed on young and elderly found that ingestion of 340 grams of lean beef (90 g protein) did not increase muscle protein synthesis any more than ingestion of 113 grams of lean beef (30 g protein). In both groups, muscle protein synthesis increased by 50%. The study concluded that more than 30 g protein in a single meal did not further enhance the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly, however, this study didn't check protein synthesis in relation to training; therefore conclusions from this research are controversial.
It is not uncommon for bodybuilders to advise a protein intake as high as 2–4 g per kilogram of bodyweight per day, however, scientific literature such as 'Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes (November 1992)' has suggested this is higher than necessary, as protein intakes greater than 1.8 g per kilogram of body weight showed to have no greater effect on muscle hypertrophy.
A study carried out by American College of Sports Medicine (2002) (THIS IS IMPORTANT) put the recommended daily protein intake for athletes at 1.2–1.8 g per kilogram of body weight.
Conversely, Di Pasquale (2008), citing recent studies, recommends a minimum protein intake of 2.2 g/kg "for anyone involved in competitive or intense recreational sports who wants to maximize lean body mass but does not wish to gain weight, however athletes involved in strength events may need even more to maximize body composition and athletic performance.
In those attempting to minimize body fat and thus maximize body composition, for example in sports with weight classes and in bodybuilding, it’s possible that protein may well make up over 50% of their daily caloric intake.


Microtrauma, which is tiny damage to the fibers, may play a significant role in muscle growth.
When microtrauma occurs (from weight training or other strenuous activities), the body responds by overcompensating, replacing the damaged tissue and adding more, so that the risk of repeat damage is reduced.
Damage to these fibers have been theorized as the possible cause for the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and is why progressive overload is essential to continued improvement, as the body adapts and becomes more resistant to stress.

Beckenham Spa Gym
Choosing a Gym

ZAC says .... you can only train as well as your gym facilities and equipment will allow.

The Good Gym

In a good gym you should find pleasant, well-qualified and helpful staff, - and not just on the day they show you round - ask other gym members who have used the gym for a long period about the level of staff competence.
More important is the gym equipment - you can only train as well as the equipment will allow - so it must be of the highest standard and best design.
If you are in a good gym you will see some of the equipment shown here.

This is top of the range equipment which will enable you to achieve maximum results.

You should also see a wide variety of 'free weights'.
'Free weight' are basically barbells and dumbbells, as opposed to plate-stacked machines (illustrated above).
'Free weights', however, require some considerable skill if they are to be used safely and correctly, and there is a far greater possibility of injury, (particularly to the spinal vertebrae) when used by novices.

A weight machine is an exercise machine used for weight training that uses gravity as the primary source of resistance and a combination of simple machines to convey that resistance to the person using the machine. Each of the simple machines (pulley, lever, wheel, incline) changes the mechanical advantage of the overall machine relative to the weight.

Exercise Machines

Stack Machines

A stack machine - also called a stack or rack - has a set of massive rectangular plates that are pierced by a vertical bar which has holes drilled in it to accept a pin.
Each of the plates has a channel on its underside that aligns with one of the holes.
When the pin is inserted through the channel into the hole, all of the plates above the pin rest upon it, and are lifted when the bar rises.
The plates below do not rise. This allows the same machine to provide several levels of resistance over the same range of motion with an adjustment that requires very little force to accomplish in itself.
The means of lifting the bar varies.
Some machines have a roller at the top of the bar that sits on a lever.
When the lever is raised the bar can go up and the roller moves along the lever, allowing the bar to stay vertical.
On some machines the bar is attached to a hinge on the lever, which causes swaying in the bar and the plates as the lever goes up and down.
On other machines the bar is attached to a cable or belt, which runs through pulleys or over a wheel.
The other end of the cable will either be a handle or strap that the user holds or wraps around some body part, or will be attached to a lever, adding further simple machines to the mechanical chain.
Usually, each plate is marked with a number.
On some machines these numbers give the actual weight of the plate and those above it.
On some, the number gives the force at the user's actuation point with the machine.
And on some machines the number is simply an index counting the number of plates being lifted.
The early Nautilus machines were a combination of lever and cable machines. They also had optional, fixed elements such as a chinning bar.

Plate-loaded Machines

Plate-loaded machines (such as the Smith machine) use standard barbell plates instead of captive stacks of plates.
They combine a bar-end on which to hang the plates with a number of simple machines to convey the force to the user.
The plate-loaded machines will often have a very high mechanical advantage, due to the need to make room for large plates over a large range of motion following a path that causes them to converge at one end or the other. Also, the motion will generally not be vertical, and the net resistance is equal to the cosine of the angle at which it is moving relative to vertical.
For example, consider an incline press machine that is a single-lever machine that has the plates halfway up the lever from the handles to the fulcrum, and begins moving the plates at a 45-degree angle from vertical.
The lever will provide a leverage advantage of 2:1, and the incline will have an advantage of 1:√2/2, for a net mechanical advantage of (4/√2):1 ≈ 2.8:1. Thus 50 kg (~491 N) of plates will apply to the user only an equaling weight of 18 kg or a force of ~174 N at the beginning of the motion.
On the other end of the spectrum may be a bent-over-row machine that is designed with the user's grip between the plates and the fulcrum.
This amplifies the force needed by the user relative to the weight of the plates.

Cable Machine

A cable machine is an item of equipment used in weight training or functional training.
It consists of a rectangular, vertically-oriented steel frame about 3 metres wide and 2 metres high, with a weight stack at each end.
The cables that connect the handles to the weight stacks run through adjustable pulleys that can be fixed at any height. This allows a variety of exercises to be performed on the apparatus.
One end of the cable is attached to a perforated steel bar that runs down the centre of the weight stack.
To select the desired amount of resistance, move the metal pin into the labelled hole in the weight stack.
The other end of the cable forms a loop, which allows the user to attach the appropriate handle for the exercise.
Most cable machines have a minimum of 20 pounds (~9 kilograms) of resistance in order to counter-balance the weight of the typical attachment.

Leg Press Machine

The leg press is a weight training exercise in which the individual pushes a weight or resistance away from them using their legs. The term leg press also refers to the apparatus used to perform this exercise.
The leg press can be used to evaluate an athlete's overall lower body strength (from knee joint to hip and partially ankle extensors as well).
Using the diagonal sled-type leg press machine.
There are two main types of leg press:
The diagonal or vertical 'sled' type leg press.
Weight disks (plates) are attached directly to the sled, which is mounted on rails.
The user sits below the sled and pushes it upward with their feet.
These machines normally include adjustable safety brackets that prevent the user from being trapped under the weight.
The 'cable' type leg press, or 'seated leg press'.
The user sits upright and pushes forward with their feet onto a plate that is attached to the weight stack by means of a long steel cable.

The Smith Machine

The Smith machine is a piece of equipment used in weight training - and is highly recommended as it allows heavy weights to be used in complete safety.
It consists of a barbell that is fixed within steel rails, allowing only vertical movement.
New variations allow a small amount of forward and backward movement.
A Smith machine often includes a weight rack in the base to help stabilise it.
Some Smith machines have the barbell counterbalanced.
The machine can be used for a wide variety of exercises.
When selecting a gym you should ensure that a Smith machine is included in the equipment provided - if not, choose another gym.

Benefits of the Smith Machine

Behind each vertical post (runner) is a series of slots on which the barbell can be hooked.
This means that unlike an ordinary barbell, the Smith machine need not be re-racked after a set of repetitions: it can be secured at any point.
This makes it safer for those who weight train without a spotter, as one only needs to twist his/her wrist in order to lock the barbell in place in the event that the weight becomes too great.
Most models also incorporate blocks, pegs, or other devices which can be adjusted to automatically stop the barbell at a predetermined minimum height. This further increases the safety factor.
Because it cannot fall forwards, backwards or sideways, a Smith machine is considered safer to use than an ordinary barbell.
Since the weight does not need to be stabilized, this can allow unstable lifters to lift more weight.


There are numerous other machines, which are shown in the sections on Upper and Lower Body Exercises.
While some traditional body-builders wrongly belittle the use of weight-training machines, they are to be highly recommended, mainly because they 'spare' the joints, and are generally very safe to use.
They also build muscle very quickly and effectively because they are specifically designed to exert maximum resistance over a full range of movement.

How to Begin

Any good Gym will give you a induction session with a gym instructor, (this should be free of charge).
Basically you will simply be shown how to set up the machines, and how to use them - and perhaps, if you are lucky, how to perform some basic 'free weights' exercises.

What to Wear in the Gym

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
ZAC says .... not all gyms are as 'informal' as the one on the right......

Boys only, of course !

What you wear when you exercise is extremely important.
It is part of your mental preparation for your workout.
You can feel good by looking good and feeling good will undoubtedly improve your overall performance while you train.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
DO NOT wear your gardening shorts, or 'short shorts' - it's just not cool !
Be 'cool' like Zac
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Track suit bottoms (not fleecy) are good, or alternatively three-quarter length shorts (very fashionable).
For the top, a matching vest - preferably without sleeves - in other words a 'gym vest'.

Gym work, especially using 'free weights' is very hard on the hands.

It is advisable, therefore, to wear fingerless, leather padded gloves to protect the hands, and also ensure a good grip.

Gloves especially designed for weigh-training are essential (available from
And if you want to be really stylish - what about 'studded' leather gloves ?

In addition wrist supports will prevent any possible strain to the tendons of the wrists.
The best wrist supports are made of leather, with two or three leather buckled straps in order to ensure a good, comfortable fit.

Although much cheaper, Neoprene or fabric supports are NOT recommended.

And, of course, you will need a good pair of trainers - Nike are recomended.

Body Feedback

ZAC says .... to gain the most benefit from your training you need to be in tune with the signals that your body sends you.
Most sports injuries result from people not 'listening' to their body.
Your body 'knows' what's best for it - and you must learn to 'listen' to what it tells you.
There is a very unwise saying amongst body-builders and exercise enthusiasts - 'No gain without pain.'
More correctly this saying should be 'No injury without pain'.
Pain is the body's way of telling you that something is wrong - that the body is being damaged.
Now it is true that heavy exercise will often cause a burning sensation in the muscles, and that after exercise there will often be aching the following day or days - but this is not the same as pain, and any pain should be taken as a warning to stop exercising a particular muscle or muscle group.
You are recommended to follow the 'intuitive training system' - which is the result of carefully monitoring your body's response to exercise.
Contrary to what some people say, it is NOT necessary to increase the weights that you use, or the repetitions that you perform on a mechanistic, regular basis.
There are periods when the body needs to recuperate, and it will let you know, if you are prepared to monitor your body's responses carefully.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Vitruvian Proportions
All that is really required is that over an extended period, (say six months) there should be an overall increase in the total work that the body is undertaking, preferably in terms of increased resistance.

If this is the case, then there will be a concomitant increase in muscle volume in those muscles that are being exercised regularly.

The best way to monitor your progress, however, is not on the weighing scales or by totting up the number of repetitions or the poundage that you are lifting, but rather by looking in the mirror.
The mirror, in conjunction with your knowledge of the Vitruvian Proportions will guide you as to on what exercises you need to focus.

Before You Begin - Stretching

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is deliberately flexed or stretched, in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity, and achieve comfortable muscle tone.
The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of movement.
Stretching is also used therapeutically to alleviate cramps.
Some people are more flexible than others as defined by individual body flexibility score; this includes sex differences where females are generally more flexible than males.
In its most basic form, stretching is a natural and instinctive activity; it is performed by humans and many other animals.
Increasing flexibility through stretching is one of the basic tenets of physical fitness.
It is common for athletes to stretch before and after exercise in order to reduce injury and increase performance.
In common with all exercise, stretching can be dangerous when performed incorrectly.
There are many techniques for stretching in general, but depending on which muscle group is being stretched.


Studies have shed light on a large protein within skeletal muscles named titin.
A study performed by Magid and Law demonstrated that the origin of passive muscle tension (which occurs during stretching) is actually within the myofibrils, not extracellularly as previously been supposed.
Due to neurological safeguards against injury, it is normally impossible for adults to stretch most muscle groups to their fullest length without training due to the activation of muscle antagonists as the muscle reaches its normal range of motion.
If people stretch daily, they will increase their flexibility, elasticity, range of movement, and production of synovial fluid.
Stretching improves balance, physical performance, and blood circulation.
Muscle pain is caused by tissue damages and excessive blood accumulation.
This can be prevented if one stretches on a regular basis.
When stretching one should not pull the muscle too quickly because it will cause a strain or tear.
The muscles become relaxed after they are stretched, which decreases the likelihood of a person getting a stress fracture.
It is important to stretch to increase blood flow to prevent the hardening of arteries.

Stretching  Exercises

Types of Stretches

There are four different types of stretching: ballistic, dynamic, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and static stretching.
Ballistic stretching is a rapid bouncing stretch, in which a body part is moving with momentum that stretches the muscles to a maximum.
Muscles respond to this type of stretching by contracting to protect itself from over extending.
Dynamic stretching is a walking or movement stretch.
By performing slow controlled movements through full range of motion, a person reduces risk of injury. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) is a type of stretch for a particular muscle and its specific job, so resistance should be applied, then the muscle should be relaxed.
Static stretching is a type of stretch whereby a person stretches the muscle until a gentle tension is felt, and then holds the stretch for thirty seconds, without any movement or bouncing.


A study of soccer players showed a group who did dynamic warm up exercises and static stretches had fewer knee injuries than one that did neither. 
One review suggests that there are many beneficial stretches that can improve range of motion (ROM).
It is also suggested that one stretching exercise may not be enough to prevent all types of injury, and that, multiple stretching exercises should be used to gain the full effects of stretching.
It has also been suggested that proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching yields the greatest change in range of motion, especially short-term benefits.
If done properly, stretching can prevent injury, relax the muscles, increase range of motion and flexibility, and better one's performance.
Stretching is more beneficial to those who stretch regularly, as opposed to those people who stretch occasionally.
Stretching increases blood flow which prevents hardening of the arteries, and it also produces synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints that are surrounded by the muscles; which in turn helps prevent arthritis
Stretching stabilizes the body's natural balance and posture, and aligns the joints leading to better coordination.
After any physical activity, there is a build up of lactic acid in one's body, and by stretching the lactic acid is removed, therefore alleviating any muscle pain or cramps.

Antagonistic Muscle Training

Most muscles work in pairs, and when a muscle works it needs to have an agonist and an antagonist.
Antagonistic pairs are located in opposite sides of a joint or bone.
An "antagonist" is a classification used to describe a muscle that acts in opposition to the specific movement generated by the agonist, and is responsible for returning a limb to its initial position.
Antagonistic muscles are found in pairs called 'antagonistic pairs'.
These consist of an extensor muscle, which "opens" the joint (i.e. increasing the angle between the two bones), flexor muscle, which does the opposite to an extensor muscle.
Antagonistic pairs are needed in the body because muscles can only exert a pulling force, and can't push themselves back into their original positions.
An example of this kind of muscle pairing is the Biceps Brachii and Triceps Brachii.
When the biceps are contracting, the triceps are relaxed, and stretches back to its original position.
The opposite happens when the triceps contract.
Another example on antagonistic pairs; abductor and adductor muscles.

Further pairs are the
Trapezius and the Latissimus Dorsi
Quadriceps Femoris and the Biceps Femoris
The Pecs and the Posterior Deltoid
The Abdominal and the Multifidus Spinae

It is essential that antagonistic muscles are exercised and developed equally.
This is important both for posture and bone development.
It is important to remember, in this context, that when a bone  is stressed by training with weights, the bone develops, and becomes more dense.
Incorrect training can, in some circumstances, cause bone deformation.
Antagonistic training will avoid this possibility and, in addition, will produce a pleasing and symmetrical physique.

One of the advantages of 'antagonistic muscle training' for the more advanced trainee is that a pair of antagonistic muscles, say the Biceps Brachii and Triceps Brachii, may be chosen, and alternating sets of exercises for these muscles can be performed with very little rest between sets.
This not only reduces the total time spent in the gym, but also improves the cardio-vascular capacity.

Resistance Training and Muscle Building

A range of stimuli can increase the volume of muscle cells.
These changes occur as an adaptive response that serves to increase the ability to generate force or resist fatigue in anaerobic conditions
8 – 12 repetitions (known as a set), repeated two or three times, against a sub-maximal load facilitates sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
REMEMBER: More is NOT better.
The first measurable effect is an increase in the neural drive stimulating muscle contraction.
Within just a few days, an untrained individual can achieve measurable strength gains resulting from "learning" to use the muscle.
As the muscle continues to receive increased demands, the synthetic machinery is up-regulated.
Although all the steps are not yet clear, this up-regulation appears to begin with the ubiquitous second messenger system (including phospholipases, protein kinase C, tyrosine kinase, and others).
These, in turn, activate the family of immediate-early genes, including c-fos, c-jun and myc.
These genes appear to dictate the contractile protein gene response.
Progressive overload is considered the most important principle behind hypertrophy, so increasing the weight, repetitions (reps), and sets will all have a positive impact on growth.
Some experts create complicated plans that manipulate weight, reps, and sets, increasing one while decreasing the others to keep the schedule varied and less repetitive (more about this later).
If more than 15 repetitions per set is possible, the weight is too light to stimulate maximal growth.
Several biological factors, such as age and nutrition, can affect muscle hypertrophy.
During puberty in males, hypertrophy occurs at an increased rate.
Natural hypertrophy normally stops at full growth, in the late teens.
Muscular hypertrophy can be increased through strength training and other short duration, high intensity anaerobic exercises.
Lower intensity, longer duration aerobic exercise generally does not result in very effective tissue hypertrophy; instead, endurance athletes enhance storage of fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, as well as neo-vascularization* .and definition.

(*neo-vascularization is the formation of functional microvascular networks with red blood cell perfusion. Neovascularization differs from angiogenesis in that angiogenesis is mainly characterized by the protrusion and outgrowth of capillary buds and sprouts from pre-existing blood vessels)

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

THIS IS IMPORTANT: An adequate supply of amino acids is essential to produce muscle hypertrophy
see 'Food and Nutrition'

Isotonic Exercise

Most of the exercises that you will perform involve isotonic contractions.
In an isotonic contraction, tension remains unchanged and the muscle's length changes.
Lifting an object at a constant speed is an example of isotonic contractions.
A near isotonic contraction is known as Auxotonic contraction.
There are two types of isotonic contractions: (1) concentric and (2) eccentric.
In a concentric contraction, the muscle tension rises to meet the resistance, then remains the same as the muscle shortens.
In eccentric, the muscle lengthens due to the resistance being greater than the force the muscle is producing.
This type is typical of most exercise.
The external force on the muscle is less than the force the muscle is generating - a shortening contraction.
The effect is not visible during the classic biceps curl, which is in fact auxotonic because the resistance (the weight being lifted) does not remain the same (due to changing angles) through the exercise - this is important to understand.
Tension is highest at a parallel to the floor level, and eases off above and below this point.
Therefore tension changes as well as muscle length.


There are two main features to note regarding eccentric contractions.
First, the absolute tensions achieved can be very high relative to the muscle's maximum tetanic tension generating capacity (you can set down a much heavier object than you can lift).
Second, the absolute tension is relatively independent of lengthening velocity.
This suggests that skeletal muscles are very resistant to lengthening, thereby allowing very high levels of tension to develop as can occur in isometric exercise (see below).
Muscle injury and soreness are selectively associated with eccentric contraction, however, muscle strengthening may be greatest using exercises that involve eccentric contraction,s because high levels of tension generate the signals for muscle strengthening.

Isometric Exercise

Less well known, and probably less effective, are isometric exercises.
Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements).
Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion.

Overcoming Versus Yielding

In an overcoming isometric, the joint and muscle work against an immovable force.
In contrast, in a yielding isometric, the joint and muscle are held in a static position while opposed by resistance.
In the context of the bench press, an example of a yielding isometric would be holding the bar at a given place even though it could be pressed higher, and an overcoming isometric would be pressing the bar up into the safety guards of a squat cage that prevent pushing the bar any higher.
The distinction is that in a yielding isometric, one is pressing roughly the exact amount of pressure needed to negate the resistance, neither dropping or lifting it.
Whereas in an overcoming isometric, one can be exerting more force and simply unable to move it.
The yielding wavers slightly into concentric and eccentric actions due to inexact control, whereas the overcoming isometric is more purely isometric and can involve more variation in the force used, since one can press harder without the bar moving.


In overcoming isometrics, subjects can safely do 100 percent effort, and continue with 100 percent available effort as strength is depleted, allowing longer time under (maximum volitional) tension, however, subjects depend on a subjective perception of effort and progress, unless an expensive metered system is available.


Yielding isometrics allow measurable progress.
Free-weight enthusiasts tend to believe the "back pressure" of real weight is superior for building strength, possibly triggering a productive "fight or flight" response, however, the extremely heavy weights needed by advanced subjects can be an inconvenience, and present a risk of injury.


An isometric exercise is a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.
The term "isometric" combines the Greek words "isos" ("equal" or "same") and "metron" ("distance" or "measure"), meaning that in these exercises the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint do not change, though contraction strength may be varied.
This is in contrast to isotonic contractions, in which the contraction strength does not change, though the muscle length and joint angle do.

Isometric Resistance

Resistance in isometric exercises typically involves contractions of the muscle using:
The body's own structure and ground
Structural items (e.g., pushing against a fence)
Free weights, weight machines, or elastic equipment (e.g., holding a weight in a fixed position)
Pressure-plate-type equipment that has a digital display of maximal force.
Depending on the goal of the exercise, the exertion can be maximal or sub-maximal.


Isometric exercises are thousands of years old, with examples listed from the static holds in certain branches of yoga or oriental martial arts.
Isometric exercises were first brought to the modern public's attention in the early days of physical culture, the precursor to body-building.
Many of the great body-builders of the day incorporated isometric exercises into their training regimens.
Many of today's training protocols incorporate isometric exercises, which are often made into parts of normal, isotonic exercises.
For example, during a set of seated rows, a subject can hold their position when the handles are closest to their chest in order to "squeeze" the muscle, in an effort to further strain the muscle.
Contrary to popular opinion, 'The Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Course' did not use any true isometric exercises, but rather dynamic self-resistance, that is, pitting one muscle group against another and calisthenics.

Comparison with Dynamic Exercises

While isometric training increases strength at the specific joint angles of the exercises performed and additional joint angles to a lesser extent, dynamic exercises increase strength throughout the full range of motion.
More recent research has confirmed the finding that every skill has a specific strength component that must be practised with the skill itself.
When a subject performs any sort of dynamic resistance training, many other muscle groups work isometrically.
For example, the muscles of the core in a squat, the hamstrings in a stiff leg dead-lift, the lats or upper back in a wide grip chin-up, and the muscles of the forearms in a dumbbell or barbell biceps curl all employ forms of isometric exercise on peripheral muscle groups.



Well - this is the official account of Tom Daley's training regime, however, looking at Daley's physique, it is obvious that the heavy, compound exercises are not the whole story.
For example, there is no mention of abdominal exercises ( offset by the dead-lifts - not recommended because of the danger of spinal injury) and the pec flyes and bench press, which are evident in the well-formed pecs (press-ups are not sufficient for this fineness of muscle shape and definition).
For the 'normal' individual (who is not intent on Olympic Gold) squats and dead-lifts are not recommended - there are equally effective exercises which can be performed with almost no possibility of injury.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Resistance training in the gym for two hours.

Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, press-ups, and pull-ups.
Perform 4 sets of 5 reps for each exercise to build raw strength.
Gradually increase the weight for each set, building up to a final set of 125kg for squats.
Do loaded press-ups with someone piling weights on your back up to 85kg, and weighted pull-ups with a 20kg plate.

Training tip: Squats don't just build muscle. A 2012 study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found following 8 weeks of dedicated squat training, nineteen professional rugby players all recorded considerably faster sprint performances over 5m (7.5% faster), 10m (7.5% faster), and 20m (6% faster).


© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
What to Do in the Gym


When you have found a good gym develop a routine which will enable you to obtain the best results and waste as little time as possible.
DON'T join the group that hang around the Smith Machine or cables etc., preventing others from training by endlessly chatting and gossiping.
These guys are skinny (never train enough), fat (can't control their eating and alcohol), or very muscular, but not defined (again can't control their eating and alcohol - but are naturally muscular).
You will see these guys, (and very occasionally girls) month after month, and they will never show any real signs of improvement - they use the gym as a social event, rather than as a way the get healthy, muscular and trim. So - steer clear of them.
Switch off your mobile 'phone.
The world will manage without you for an hour.
Use a MP3 player to play music if you find that it helps you to concentrate on your training.

How often should you train ?
You should train at least three times each week.
If you are able to take sufficient rest, then you can train five or six times per week - however, the more the train the better you nutrition should be.
If you do not take sufficient rest (eight hours good quality sleep each night), and consume a first class diet, plus supplements, then you will suffer from 'overtraining', and will make only minimal progress.

Should you train alone - or with a partner ?
Well, if you are really serious about getting that perfect physique then it is probably better to train alone.
No two bodies are the same, and so your needs will NEVER be exactly the same as those of your partner.
Training with a partner will always involve you in making compromises.
The exercises that you need your partner might not need - the weights that your partner uses will not be identical to the weight that you need to use.
And also you will begin to chat, and in the end you will become like the guys we mentioned earlier.
Your body is SPECIAL, and needs a SPECIAL workout - tailored exactly to your need so, GO IT ALONE, and be a real success !

click below for
amazing digital masterpieces


No comments:

Post a Comment