Want to keep exercising? Don’t forget the intermediate step
December 27, 2007
It’s January again. Time to unearth those moldy tennis shoes and hit the road. Any fitness instructor will tell you that after six weeks of sweating, the average person will quit. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen to you.
What can you expect after your first six weeks of exercise? Three weeks of sweating will give you the ability to climb stairs and still be able to breath. It’s called Aerobic Condition, and you need to sweat for at least 20 minutes, three times a week to achieve it.
If you are working out only once a week it will take you a lot longer for that conditioning. Either way, you will still need at least 20 minutes of puffing to achieve your aerobic goals. When the heart and lungs are finally beginning to respond, you will notice that you have no abdominal muscles.
Now it’s time to work on muscle strength. This is the period in fitness training when people quit -who needs muscles anyway?
Besides it takes too long to build them. Somewhere between three weeks of aerobic improvement, and the three months it takes to build your muscle strength is the possibility of injury.
You are ready for those strength movements, but your opposing muscles are too weak to hold a safe position.
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Example: your back can arch off the floor during abdominal work leaving it susceptible to injury because your abdominal muscles are still struggling for power; or your back dips down to the floor during push-ups because the opposing muscles are too weak to pull it flat.
At this point you need a secondary level so that you can adjust your movements to build strength while your muscles catch up to your lungs and heart. Muscle strength can take up to three months to develop. Think of your leg muscles when you start running. Your heart is aerobically conditioned after three weeks of workouts so you run faster with longer and longer miles – suddenly you pull a calf muscle. Drop back to a slower run with a lot less miles until your legs build the muscles to go along with your energy.
That is the step between “beginning” and “advanced” that a lot of exercise students skip. It’s called “intermediate” and it’s this middle level of physical conditioning that can cause accidents.
Your heart and lungs allow you to go farther, faster than your muscles can accommodate. Hold back your training level for another eight weeks until you have advanced your muscle strength.
That way maybe you will get through January and still be exercising in February.
• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.