11 Dec 2022
Circuit training and compound body movements like lateral pull downs, single bar, parallel bar-like lunges with dumbbells as well as a combination of exercises can increase the value of a workout. You can do all of this in one-third the time you devote to weight training and get an equal result, advises holistic fitness coach Dr Mickey Mehta
Written by Dr Mickey Mehta
Weight training was introduced in the last 100 to 200 years. Before that people were into arduous physical activities like ploughing fields or indulging in physical contact sports like wrestling. It was only since weightlifting became an Olympic sport in 1896 that weight training mutated to strength training and became a part of gym routines in the 1960s and the 1970s. So basically, this form of training uses the force of gravity in the form of weighted bars, dumbbells or stacks, to oppose the force generated by muscle and build them back in the process. Weight training uses a variety of specialised equipment to target specific muscle groups and types of movement.
Now researchers at the Edith Cowan University seem to suggest that such strenuous routine may not be required as much. They have shown that one type of muscle contraction is most effective at increasing muscle strength and size. In other words, we may be able to lower weights and get the same results. Super heavy weightlifting is not conducive in the long run, it’s not sustainable. Cutting down the weight by 50 per cent and doing it in an absolute comfort zone, increasing reps with regulated breathing — exhaling when you are flexing, inhaling when you are relaxing, and stretching for opening up — is just as good.
Circuit training, where you do all body parts in one go, 3-4 times a week for 20-25 minutes, can really give you good results. Circuit training and compound body movements like lateral pull downs, single bar, parallel bar like lunges with dumbbells as well as a combination of exercises can increase the value of a workout. You can do all of this in one-third the time you devote to weight training and get an equal result.
Everybody is different and everybody will have different workout needs. One needs to bring awareness and keep changing sets, or weights to see the final result.
One needs to increase the reps to improve muscular endurance – (that is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repetitive contractions against a force for an extended period of time). Heavy weights and fewer reps are used to increase muscle size and strength.
It is important how you carry weights. Lowering them down is more important because muscle building and strengthening happen when you bring down the weights in a slow and controlled way. It also helps to build connective tissues and prevent injuries.
I am not talking about HIIT here, I am talking about circuit training and using all body parts getting covered 3-4 times a week, that too at submaximal capacity for maximum shaping, maximum agility, endurance, and strength.
In between your weight training sets, it would be really helpful if you were to do abs, planks, Surya namaskar and a lunge walk. Squats and steps 10 times each can be increased gradually. Also forward, backward bending, sideways bending, and twisting turning can be a great help. I would recommend hand-raising and shoulder press exercises for the upper body and leg raises for the lower body. These tweaks in between can take your workout to a very different level.
A 20-25 minute crisp workout with lesser weights, mixed body parts, quick sets and smart recoveries has a longer impact. Following are a few compound exercises that you can do without equipment:
Lunge BurpeeRaise your hands. Jump up, then bend down, keeping your hands on either side of your legs. Take your legs back in plank position, do a push-up. Bring your legs back, then do lunge with alternate legs.
Push up with vashisthasanaDo regular push-ups, come up, turn and bring your right hand up, repeat on the left side.
Squat to double lungeSquat down. Take your right leg forward in a lunge position, and take the same leg back in a lunge position. Repeat with the left leg. Can add a twist with a lunge as a variation. These compound movements help in improving blood flow, body systems and organs.
Well, diet also plays an important role if you really want to increase your strength to a very great level. So, protein intake is a must for excessive strength and if you are taking it for some defined objective, you must do it under supervision. Mantras like no over-eating, late-night meals and yet being in the safe zone of digestion, elimination and proper clean bowel movements have to be adhered to.
(Dr Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A best-selling author, he has been appointed FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India).