Thursday, 26 August 2010

Cockles and muscles, alive alive ohh...

The title is from an old folksong called 'Molly Malone/Cockles and Mussels', it's one you may not know the title of but you will have heard before.

As well as doing all the walking I've been trying to build muscle without the aid of a Gym, which is slightly easier than it sounds! I have to admit I didn't really know where to begin on this one, then I found this site here: Body I have only been using their exercise archive as it's brilliant, the most useful thing has been that you can filter by muscle group, male or female, and whether you have access to weights and/or a Gym or not.

The link opens up on the 'Machine exercises' page, but if you look down the left hand side you can tick or un-tick the boxes to whatever configuration you want. In the 'Equipment Type' section lower down, if you tick 'Body Only' and nothing else it will give you all the exercise that you can do without the aid of any weights or special equipment. It's what I've been doing! If you do have access to your own weights or go to a Gym then there are so many muscle building exercises on this site, it's great. I will say if you're not that interested in major league body building don't check the rest of the site out, it's more geared towards the competition aspect and preparing for that.

Why should you want to build muscle as well as just losing fat? Because every gram of muscle in your body has to burn energy just to move, the more muscle you have the more effective your exercise will be at burning calories and fat. Even when you're just sitting around the body has to expend energy just to keep muscles maintained. There is also the fact that if you lose a whole load of weight and don’t do any muscle toning and building you look a bit saggy, your skin has lost a lot of volume keeping it stretched and taut so it needs the muscle volume to replace the fat volume otherwise you get folds of skin that just sort of hang there!

I know that a lot of women don't want to end up with huge muscular shoulders and legs - myself included. To prevent that from happening a very rough rule of thumb is to do 'Low weight, high Rep', which means lots and lots of lighter weight repetitions, rather than trying to lift your own bodyweight once. If you want to 'Build' your muscles then you get into increasing the weight consistently and trying to lift heavier and heavier amounts. Effectively what you are doing is damaging the fibres of the muscles a small amount every time you lift, when you rest overnight the body repairs the damage making the muscle fibres slightly thicker and stronger. This is why you MUST REST between good weight sessions, you don't build weight in the Gym or wherever you weight train, you 'damage' the muscles during the sessions and then the body 'builds them back up' overnight!

'Low weight, high rep' gets you the more subtle, toned muscles. 'High weight, low rep' gets you the more obvious 'Body builders' rounded muscles. If you are going for the big Arnie style muscles, if you can do more than 12 repetitions in one go you need a slightly heavier weight.

I also found this funny little calculator, here on the same site. It uses the width of your wrist in inches, bone density, to calculate what the rest of you should ideally measure. There really is such a thing as being 'Big Boned', my husband had to go to hospital once and they did an ultrasound scan on his knee, they decided to check his leg as well and the doctor remarked that his thigh bones were 'ridiculously thick'! He did a lot of rowing and walking when he was younger so he strengthened and enlarged his bones from an early age.

This is a fascinating article about Rugby training, I come back to Rugby as I find it a brilliant example of how different body shapes and strengths can all come together to form a cohesive team. The players all display a level of fitness that is amazing to behold, these men run nonstop for eighty minutes with one break of fifteen minutes in the middle. They are an inspiration, I may hear many of you shout "But what about football, their players are equally fit." Well yes, but someone who is built like the side of a house doesn't usually get selected for a football squad no matter how fit they are. It is the exclusive realm of smaller, thinner, fast guys, whereas Rugby has every body size and type from 'Prop Forwards' (the guys who could stop a charging Rhino) to the 'Backs' and the 'Hookers' who are the tiny speedy ones who break from the sides and run half a mile in about a second!

Using Rugby workout templates, even for women, is a very good all round workout - even little weights do make you sweat surprisingly quickly! There's also this video for a bit of fun! It's 7.25 minutes long but it's great, and it features Gareth Thomas briefly :D.

My first 'weigh day' is coming up, it's on Sunday so we'll see how it's gone for the first two weeks! I'm off to a friend’s wedding now so I'll sign off with fingers crossed for Sunday!

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