Your Body is a Symphony, Not a Solo: Essential Things to Consider in Your Workouts

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justin sarmast doing pullups
Justin Sarmast, Anne Arundel County fitness expert: Your body is a symphony of moving parts. Photo: Peter Cane

Your body is a symphony, not a solo. Your body is a shell made up of a collection of moving parts which come together like a Transformers cartoon to create the incredible masterpiece that is you.

Each aspect of fitness is like a pillar that holds us: Motivation and mental strength, diet and nutrition, strength and conditioning, breathing. If one pillar lacks strength, the others have their work cut out for them to keep your foundation strong.

Motivation and Mental Strength

Motivation or mental strength is something many people overlook in terms of their health. It’s a long game. You have to keep your eye on a target that often is far away. Hiring a coach, reading new books, learning new ideas and adding them to your fitness arsenal keeps the game fresh and fun.

Diet and Nutrition 

Diet and nutrition are critical. Certain foods are considered thermogenic. That means they heat up the body. Foods like avocado, nuts and legumes, coconut and olive oil are great fuel to fill up on about two hours prior to a workout. They create an anti-inflammatory response and very little wear and tear on the digestive tract so that you can recover properly. Recovering after a workout is key to releasing hormones essential for mental health, proper sleep, and muscle growth.

Recovering after a workout is key to releasing hormones essential for mental health, proper sleep, and muscle growth. It’s important to eat meals at the right times, so you heat up your body for movement and action. For instance, red meat and dairy are difficult for certain body types to process late at night. So if you find yourself having night sweats, the room is spinning, or you’re having nightmares, check the ingredients of your late night snack.

Strength and Conditioning

Exercises that challenge your ability to problem solve while your body is being pushed are the most beneficial. Keeping your core and spine in proper alignment while moving speeds up the metabolism. This requires different muscle groups to coordinate with each other improving intermuscular communication. This is done by breathing more deeply and fully while exercising. Oxygen provides the fuel for the muscles which gives them the strength to perform the exercise and the conditioning to hold proper form throughout the set.

Breathing

Your breathing keeps you rooted and in the moment so that you can problem solve in real time. Deep breathing into the belly gives you better control over the limbs and diaphragm which is a practice that is often overlooked and hugely dictates our personality, drive, body fat, and fitness results. Breathing properly speeds up your metabolism and gives you better posture by activating more muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber and neural pathway requires a certain amount of oxygen to work properly and to its fullest extent.

Start from the Bottom Up

In order for the symphony to harmonize, practice is needed. When looking at new workouts, it is helpful to start from the bottom to top. Feet are tough — all 19 muscles, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 26 bones. That’s a lot to keep coordinated. The average person takes up to 10,000 steps a day (the eventual equivalent of circling the world four times in a lifetime), and the force of each step when running is roughly four times a person’s bodyweight (an average of between 500 to 700 pounds of force). Back injuries and pain are becoming very prevalent in our society.

One of the more important jobs of your feet is to provide proprioceptive feedback to the brain about where your body is in space and time. If your feet aren’t absorbing shock properly, the tension of each step will travel up the leg and into the hip and back or, even worse, the neck. Hip problems, knee problems, fallen arches, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and many other issues generally stem from feet not fully doing the job for which they were designed.

Your Body is a Giant Pulley System

When muscle cells contract, they pull on the attached tendon the way a line of tug-o-war participants might pull a rope. Before movement takes place, there must be a change of muscular tension on both sides of the particular joints. The effectiveness of this muscular teamwork is one of the factors which determine limits of speed, power, balance, agility, and accuracy in all movements.

Image result for pulley system

During slow movements such as standing or sitting, lifting heavy objects, or executing a handstand, the muscles on both sides of the joints act strongly to fix the body in the desired position. When rapid motion takes place as in running, kicking, or throwing, the muscles closing the joints shorten and those on the opposite side lengthen to permit the movement. There is still tension on both sides, but on the lengthening side considerably less. Your health is a symphony that will play regardless, so train each part of the orchestra up to your own personal standards.

Your health is a symphony that will play regardless of what you do for your body. So fine-tune each part of the orchestra up to get the best possible performance!

Justin Sarmast is a personal trainer and fitness expert from Anne Arundel County. You can contact him at destinationisfitness@gmail.com

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