Monday, 26 November 2012

What does not kill you...

... makes you stronger

And this is especially true for a fitness routine, provided:
  • You are giving yourself adequate rest between your workouts
  • Your nutrition is aiding the strengthening process
  • Your workout program is holistic, i.e. you're not injuring one body part for the sake of strengthening another.  Examples of not following this principle include workout routines that cause RSI
  • You are pushing yourself to the maximum each time you work out.  This is the principle of progressive overload.  There are exceptions though: one shouldn't train to failure when hitting the tendons (e.g. with pull-ups, chin-ups)
Yes, there are prerequisites to every fancy rule.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Stupid pigeon

A window was open, but no one in the house had realised it. Insomniac that I am, I couldn't help notice (at 3AM) the flutter of wings coming from the room with the open window. When I walked into the room, I could count at least three pigeons, with more in the queue to come in to the room through the open window. I attempted to block the window to stop the onslaught of new pigeons, and simultaneously (in hindsight, attempting this simultaneously was a mistake) shoo away the ones already in.

Sometime during the ruckus that emerged with me and the pigeons, one of the pigeons managed to flutter around me and peck at my neck a million times.  It must've been a gruesome sight to see me fend myself from the pigeon.

Fast forward to the next day: I'm at the clinic, and the doctor (pretty young thing, by the way) is describing how pigeons carry all sorts of dreaded germs, and that I need to take a bunch of antibiotic and antiviral injections as a precaution.  I took all this with the same calmness with which I fended off the pigeon the previous night. And then she started administering the first shot - perhaps it was an anti-rabies thing.

So there I was in my dream, getting a shot from a doctor, and simultaneously in real-life, my heart starts pounding away at 160 beats per minute.  And here I am now, well before 9 AM, blogging about how a stupid imaginary pigeon managed to wake me up this early on a Sunday.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Avoiding the "side-effect" syndrome of fitness goals

A comprehensive fitness program should produce results in the following three parameters:
  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
Any results outside these three parameters are mere side effects.  Let me repeat: any results outside these three parameters are mere side effects.  And I am not implying any negative connotation when I use the term side effect.  Some of these side effects include changes to posture, immunity levels, body fat level, weight, sleeping patterns, appetite, etc.  As one can see, the list of these side effects can be really long.  And classifying these side effects as a positive or negative depends on the individual and their context.  E.g. weight loss may be a good thing if you're just coming off a holiday season during which you've binged a lot.  But it is probably not a good thing if you're already in the underweight zone on the BMI scale (or any other metric that you're following).

Now, it's quite common to see ourselves setting goals focussed exclusively on these side effects: in fact, it's usually one of the reason people start to hit the gym, isn't it?  Typical comments one gets to hear from newcomers is, "I need to lose at least five kilos before my cousin's wedding."  This is short-term mentality at its best.

If you are following a fitness program that is focussed on any of these side effects while compromising on the three fitness parameters listed above (strength, endurance, flexibility), you're doing yourself more harm than good.  In fact, even if you are focusing on one of those three parameters while compromising on the other two, you are doing your body a disservice in the long run. So, please set yourself holistic fitness goals, and follow a program that does not compromise on these three parameters. 

Comments welcome.

[Update: Retitled this post]