Workout Performance

Workout Performance

Gymnastics develop heavy, strong arm and shoulder muscles. The legs are not developed proportionately. Running develops stringy, tough leg muscles. Arms remain undeveloped. Strenuous training has reduced the fat end extra muscle tissue which would require energy to carry. Boxing develops compact, powerful arm and leg muscles. The boxer trains for speed and endurance which does not produce the large muscles seen in the gymnast.

Heavy muscles would be a burden to boxers who must keep their arms up and move them fast during a fight. Swimming develops long, flexible, smooth muscles throughout the body.Training diminishes the individual differences among performers in endurance events. Runners who are in good condition at the start of a training period show a small improvement, while those in poor condition in the beginning improve rapidly during the training season.

An increase in work output as a result of training has been observed in track and treadmill runners and in bicycle riders. In one study college students unselected for athletic ability trained for a period of six months. Track and treadmill running was supplemented with gymnastics and other activities. An average reduction of one minute in the time required to run a mile occurred between the second and sixth months. The maximal grade of treadmill running was increased by 50 per cent.

In another experiment subjects who trained on a bicycle ergometer for three months were capable of about three times the work output of untrained subjects. Such large increases in work output as the result of training cannot be explained in terms of improved mechanical efficiency alone. In two careful work experiments in which training resulted in comparable increases in work output the mechanical efficiency remained unchanged in one and increased only 5 to 10 per cent in the other. In both of these experiments it was noted that in the trained subjects the R.Q. during work was lower, the volume of oxygen removed from each liter of expired air wits greater, the oxygen consumption was greater and the oxygen debt smaller.

Work during fatigued states on a bicycle ergometer was carried on at a 31 per cent higher rate in trained individuals (women physical education majors) than in untrained (student nurses). The trained individuals also had an 11 per cent greater capacity for maximum work.

The 10-Minute Core-Blasting Pilates Workout

The 10-Minute Core-Blasting Pilates Workout

At first glance, a Pilates studio might look like a medieval torture chamber, with strange straps and metal springs hanging from padded platforms called a “reformer.” In reality, Pilates is a form of exercise that aims to develop flexibility, good posture, strength, and balance all at the same time.

In the early 20th century, Joseph Pilates invented the series of movements to help English veterans recover from injuries sustained during World War I. Since then, Pilates has been the go-to regimen for anyone interested in working on strength, grace, and of course, a solid core.

While some Pilates classes utilize special machines, mat sequences only require your bodyweight, so they’re easy to replicate at home and still reap the same benefits.

We asked Sarah Ruback of Core Pilates NYC to pick some of the best moves for core strength. The focus here is quality, not quantity, so make each rep as strong as possible and don’t stress about the number of reps. (For further instruction, check out CorePilates’s series of demo videos.)

The 10-Minute Core-Blasting Pilates Workout

More of a Pilates pro than a beginner? Simply perform each movement longer than the prescribed time. Moving slowly and focusing on correct form can help even advanced people feel the burn in every muscle. For an added challenge, Ruback suggests holding 1 to 2 pound dumbbells (water bottles or soup cans also work well).

1. Pilates Curl

Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at sides. Exhale, curling chin to chest and bringing shoulders completely off mat. Hold for 1 breath, then lower back down slowly. Lift from breastbone to engage abs and avoid crunching neck.

2. The Hundred

Lie faceup and bring knees in toward chest. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off mat and stretch hands by sides with palms facing floor. Extend legs to a 45-degree angle with heels together and toes apart (the Pilates stance). Pump arms up and down while breathing in and out through the nose for 5 counts each. Repeat for 10 sets.

3. Roll-Up

Lie faceup with arms extended toward ceiling. Exhale, curl chin to chest, and roll up to sitting position with arms reaching toward feet. Exhale and reverse to roll down one vertebrae at a time. Move slowly and smoothly with no forward lunging or jerking.

4. Rolling Like a Ball

Sit on mat with knees drawn toward chest and arms wrapped around legs. Rock back to tailbone with feet hovering a few inches above mat. Inhale, rolling back to shoulder blades then exhale to roll forward to balanced starting position. Use abs to control momentum and pause before feet touch mat.

5. Single-Leg Stretch

Lie faceup on mat with knees drawn toward chest, shins parallel to floor in tabletop position. Exhale to lift head, neck, and shoulders off mat. At the same time, extend left leg straight to a 45-degree angle and draw right knee toward chest. Grab right knee with left hand and right ankle with right hand. Switch legs on the inhale, pulse for 1 beat, and switch legs again on exhale, keeping shoulders off mat and core engaged throughout.

6. Double-Leg Stretch

Lie faceup on mat. Lift head, neck, and shoulders and bring knees to chest, arms hugging shins. Inhale, and straighten legs to a 45-degree angle while simultaneously extending arms along ears. Exhale, and circle arms down to hug shins as you return to starting position. Keep shoulders off mat throughout and maintain even breathing.

7. Single Straight-Leg Stretch

Lie faceup on mat with legs extended straight up, perpendicular to floor. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off mat and bring right leg in as close to face as flexibility allows, lightly holding right calf with both hands. Pulse right leg toward face 2 times while left leg extends away from body and hovers above mat, then repeat on the other side.

8. Crisscross

Lie faceup on mat, hands behind neck and elbows wide. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off mat. Bring left armpit to right knee and extend left leg to high diagonal. Twist to the other side and switch legs, bringing right armpit to left knee and extending right leg.

9. Double Straight-Leg Stretch

Lie faceup on mat with hands supporting back of neck and knees bent toward chest. Exhale, bringing upper torso off mat and extending legs toward ceiling. Lower legs to a 45-degree angle for 3 counts then lift again for 1 count.

10. Teaser II

Lie faceup and hug knees to chest. Reach arms directly overhead and extend both legs to high diagonal. Stretch arms back toward ears then shift them toward toes, rolling up to a seated V position. Keep arms and legs at a 45-degree angle to mat. From this position, lower and raise legs for 3 to 5 reps. Roll spine to mat one vertebrae at a time, then lower legs to return to starting position.

11. Pilates Plank to Push-Up

Stand tall, exhale, and round chin to chest, rolling the body down to a “rag doll” position. Walk hands out into a high plank position. Lower body halfway to mat, elbows tucked close to ribcage. Straighten arms to press up and repeat the Pilates push-up for 3 to 5 reps. Walk hands toward feet and roll back up to starting position.

12. Shoulder Bridge

Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on mat, arms along sides. Exhale and roll hips off mat toward ceiling. Holding this position, extend right leg and kick it to ceiling with pointed toe. Flex right heel and lower leg to level of left knee. Do 3 reps, then place right foot on mat. Extend left leg and repeat on the other side, then roll hips down to mat to return to starting position.

13. Double-Leg Kick

Lie facedown with right cheek on mat. Place hands on low back, one on top of another, palms facing up. Allow elbows to fall toward mat. Kick both heels to glutes 2 to 3 times. Straighten legs, keeping feet off floor, then extend clasped hands toward feet and lift chest off mat, gazing straight ahead. (You should feel no pressure in low back.) Lower chest to mat, and turn head to other side to repeat.

Reasons to Start Bodyweight Training Today

Reasons to Start Bodyweight Training Today

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple bodyweight exercises can be a great choice for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, they don’t cost a thing and you can usually do them just about anywhere. Still not convinced? We’ve got 13 reasons why bodyweight exercises should be a key component to your workout regime.

It’s a super-efficient workout

Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense HIIT workouts can yield major results.

It can combine cardio and strength training

Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpees or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push-ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.

You can burn fat—fast

Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuit training can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the afterburn effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.

At any fitness level, it’s challenging

Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a ballistic movement (like a clap at the top of each push-up) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.

You’ll gain core strength

Your core is more than just six-pack abs. In fact, at least twenty-nine muscles make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to engage all of them. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.

It can increase your flexibility

Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury. Yoga, the fave no-equipment workout for many, is another great way to to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.

There’s never an excuse to not workout

Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Luckily bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress reliever whether you’re working at home or on the road.

You’ll achieve better balance

When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a normal squat can be ramped up by swapping in a single-leg squat (a.k.a. a pistol squat). Functional movements like that one can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.

You’ll never get bored

It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break plateaus and spark further progress.

Mixing up your workout is easy

Indoor excercise isn’t for everyone. Luckily you can do these moves inside or outdoors, alone or with a group of friends. Think about adding some strength moves to your next park run, or finishing a swim session with a quick bodyweight circuit to keep things interesting.

It can help with injury prevention

Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments.

13. You’ll see results

Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.

Introducing Muscular Strength

Introducing Muscular Strength

Strength may be defined as the ability to do work against resistance. The amount of muscular force which can be exerted against a resistance depends upon the size of the muscles involved, the proportion of the constituent fibers engaged in the action, the coordination of the muscle groups, the physical condition of the muscles and the mechanical advantage of the levers employed.

Muscle Size

The strength of a muscle is proportional to its cross-section area. Although absolute values vary so much from muscle to muscle that it would be hazardous to apply the figure for one muscle to any other muscle, 1 the work capacity of the muscles has been calculated to be on the order of magnitude of 6 kilogram meters per minute per square centimeter of tissue. Fluctuations in this value among individuals arc unrelated to age from 13 to 48 years. Arm muscles are capable of lifting approximately 1,500 times their own weight. Such great strength as this is required in the human body because of the very poor mechanical advantage of most of its levers.

Two muscles having the same cross-section area may differ in strength due to difference in the amounts of fatty tissue which they contain. Fat not only lacks contractile power, but it also acts as a friction brake, limiting the rate and extent of shortening of the muscle fibers. Strength, speed, endurance and skill are all reduced as the percentage of fat in the body of a muscle is increased.

The cross-section area of a muscle is increased most rapidly by activities in which heavy loads are moved, such as weight lifting, wrestling and gymnastics. The optimum amount of muscular strength for an individual is slightly above that needed to meet the requirements of daily activity. If muscles are frequently called on to execute near-maximum contractions, fatigue and reduced physical efficiency result. An adequate reserve of muscular strength permits the necessary, work to be accomplished with only slight displacement of homeostatic equilibria and fatigue occurs only after long periods of continuous work.

Excessive amounts of muscular tissue, on the other hand, constitute an extra load to be supported and moved. A disproportionately great amount of time and effort in training is necessary to maintain such large muscles. When the optimum degree of strength has been attained in a body-building program, the emphasis may well be shifted to activities requiring larger measures of skill or endurance.

Central Nervous System

Central Nervous System

The central nervous system comprises the brain and spinal cord and is composed of myriads of neurones. These are connected to form a very complex chain and network through an innumerable number of synaptic relationships. The cell bodies are massed in the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord while the nerve fibers constitute columns of white matter.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of fibers whose cell bodies reside in the gray matter of the central nervous system or in certain peripheral ganglia lying outside of the central nervous system, that is, the afferent and efferent fibers which compose the nerve trunks previously described.

From the brain stem and medulla issue twelve pairs of cranial nerves, namely, the olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, trigeminus, abducens, facial, auditory, glossopharyngeal, vagus, spinal accessory, and hypoglossal nerves. From each side of the spinal cord there arise eight cervical (neck), twelve thoracic (trunk), five lumbar (middle of the back), five sacral, and one coccygeal nerve, thus, making a total of thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves.

Each nerve arises from the cord from two roots, the one ventral and the other dorsal. It has been conclusively demonstrated experimentally, by a number of observers, that those fibers contained in the dorsal root are afferent in function, that is, carry impulses only toward the central nervous system, while those in the ventral root are efferent or carry impulses from the central nervous system to the various tissues and organs. Situated on the dorsal root is an enlargement, the dorsal root ganglion, which contains the nerve cells of the afferent neurones.

Cardiac Muscle and Striated Muscle

Cardiac Muscle and Striated Muscle

Cardiac or heart muscle stands, both structurally and functionally, in an intermediate position relative to the two other varieties of muscle. It is imperfectly striated and branches freely so that there is muscular continuity throughout the atria as one unit and throughout the ventricles as another. In the mammalian heart the atria are separated from the ventricles by a connective-tissue ring. Similar to smooth muscle it is involuntary and contracts rhythmically, irrespective of its extrinsic nerve supply.

It is innervated by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system. All phases of its contraction are more rapid than those of smooth muscles. It is not easily fatigued and a second contraction cannot be elicited before the previous one has run to completion, that is, it is not irritable to its normal stimulus while it is in any phase of contraction. These properties adapt it for the type of work it is designed to perform, namely, the pumping of the blood which must at all times during life be maintained.

Striated muscle

Those muscles which are under the control of the will and in most instances connected with the various bones of the skeletal system and which move the arms, legs, head, and trunk of man are called skeletal, voluntary, or striated muscles, since their most conspicuous structural characteristic is the transverse striation of their fibers.

Balance and a Rapid Restoration of the Body

Balance and a Rapid Restoration of the Body

Many types of skilled exercise require an accurate sense of balance and a rapid restoration of the body to its normal position when balance has been disturbed. This ability depends on nerve impulses originating in the labyrinth of the inner ear (the otolith organs and the semicircular canals).

There are two main groups of labyrinthine reactions: the acceleratory reflexes and the positional reflexes. Acceleratory reflexes are evoked by movements of the head and the effective stimulus is acceleration (a change in velocity). The response to linear acceleration is useful to the jumper in effecting a landing on the feet. Upon angular acceleration the responses are evoked in the muscles of the eyes, neck, limbs and trunk.

Rotary acceleration produces eye movements known as nystagmus, which is a quick swing of eyes in the direction of the rotation alternating with a slow deviation in the opposite direction. If the rotation continues at a constant rate the nystagmus gradually dies away, an example of the fact that this type of reaction depends upon acceleration, not velocity. Cessation of the rotation may cause turning of the head, body and arms in the direction of the previously experienced movement, with the result that the individual tends to fall to that side.

An example of the positional reflex is the righting reaction, which acts upon the neck muscles to keep the head in a normal position regardless of the position of the body. Another example of a positional reflex is the compensatory deviations of the eyes which are evoked by changes in the position of the head. When the body is placed in an abnormal position, there is an immediate effort to restore it to its normal position.

A normal, blindfolded person standing on a platform readily adjusts the position of his body when the platform is gradually tilted, but deaf-mutes (in whom the inner ear is defective) immediately fall. Impressions from the labyrinth, together with the visual and proprioceptive impressions from the muscles control the process by which physical equilibrium is gained or maintained. Impressions from the labyrinth are especially concerned with maintaining the normal position of the head.

Overstimulation of the labyrinthine receptors, as in whirling or rapid tumbling, may produce dizziness and even nausea. Seasickness results from a certain type of overstimulation of these receptors. Dizziness reduces skill and accuracy of movement. A common practice of dancers and figure skaters, whose routines include rapid spins, is to fix the eyes on a distant point and to watch that point until the head has turned as far as is compatible with comfort.

The head is then shifted quickly in the direction of the spin until another point is sighted. The eyes rest on this object until the limit of the turn of the head is reached and the shift is repeated. This momentary pause in the rotation of the head provides a brief resting period which reduces the dizziness of overstimulation. The susceptibility to dizziness on continued turning is diminished during training so that skill and accuracy during spinning or tumbling movements is increased.

Application of Muscular Force

Application of Muscular Force

The mechanical action of the levers employed determines the power which the muscle must exert to perform the work. Two factors influence the amount of power which a muscle can supply to its lever: variation in the strength of the pull resulting from different degrees of stretch of the working muscles and)the mechanical advantage of the lever. The position of a muscle at contraction affects the strength of the pull of the muscle.

The position of greatest pull is one in which the muscle is slightly stretched. The strength of the pull is decreased when there is no stretch on the muscle and, of course, there is no further strength in the muscle when it is completely contracted. The biceps is in the position for strongest pull when the elbow is fully extended and the biceps is stretched. The triceps is in position for the strongest contraction when the elbow is fully fixed and the triceps is stretched. When the elbow is fully extended the biceps pulls the radius and ulna against the humerus and only a small force is directed toward flexion of the joint.

With the elbow at half flexion (the lower arm at right angles to the upper arm), the force of the biceps is entirely employed in the flexion and the lever is in the position of maximal mechanical efficiency. With the elbow threequarters flexed the pull is again against the humerus and the efficiency of the pull is very low; also the biceps in this position is nearly fully contracted and possesses very little additional strength for movement of the lever.

If a heavy book is placed on the palm of the hand when the arm is extended along the top of a table, it may be observed that it is difficult to lift the book from this position. If the upper arm is raised to one-fourth flexion at the start of the lift, the lift is easier. The lift is easiest with the elbow flexed so that the upper arm is at a right angle to the lower arm, With the elbow fully flexed it is obviously impossible to lift the load father. The combination of these two factors, the advantage of the muscle stretch and the mechanical advantage of the pull from a right angle, allows a great percentage of the entire force to be exerted over a wide range of movement.

The range of movement in lifting heavy load is dependent upon the amount of the load and the degree of flexion at the start of the contraction of the muscles which are performing the lift. Loads which are near maximum can be lifted only short distances because of the reduced power when the joint is near full flexion or extension. To move a heavy load the greatest distance, start in the position at which the joint is flexed just to the point at which it is barely possible to move the weight.

Components of Physical Fitness

Components of Physical Fitness

Most types of stress require varying’ degrees of anatomical, physiological and psychological fitness. Anatomical fitness implies possession of all the parts and organs of the body which arc essential to the performance of the task. A man who loses an arm, a leg or an eye may lose his fitness for one task but remain fit for another type of activity.

Physiological fitness implies the capacity for skillful performance and rapid recovery. All activities require some degree of muscular strength, motor skill and endurance. The relative importance of one of these components in the performance of a particular task may determine a man’s fitness for that task.

For example, a man with weak muscles may excel in an activity requiring a high degree of motor skill but be totally unfit for a task requiring great muscular strength. Psychological fitness for a task implies that the subject possesses the necessary emotional stability, drive or motivation, intelligence, and educability. Without these, he may fail even though he is anatomically and physiologically fit for the particular task.

Difficulties in Measuring Fitness

Before fitness can be assessed with any accuracy the precise nature of the stress must be under. stood. This is tire most difficult task confronting the investigator who wishes to make an estimate of fitness. He must attempt to differentiate the factors which constitute tile particular stress and then to determine t},c relative importance of each factor.

Following this analysis he must validate the measure of each factor, refine each measure until it is reliable, and assign a score 10 each measure. This degree of accuracy in the quantitative assessment of fitness has understandably not yet been achieved. The only precise estimate of fitness which is now available is the uneconomical procedure of making a long and careful study of the performance of the individual at the particular task.

It is frequently desirable to estimate the fitness of a large group in a very short time. This can be accomplished at present only by sacrificing precision. At best, present estimates of fitness reduce the errors of judgment and chance selection.

Anxiety State and Effort Syndrome

Anxiety State and Effort Syndrome

The effect of severe fright which might occur in battle or in a tragic accident is occasionally a disorganization of an individual’s motor nervous system which renders him incapable of skillful movement. This motor disorganization frequently persists and the victim behaves continually as if the original traumatic situation were still in existence.

Tremor of the hand may be so intense that he is incapable of buttoning a coat. There is a reduction of muscular strength and in severe anxiety states there is often a loss of kinesthetic sense resulting in an incapacity to stand and walk. Recovery does not occur until improvement in the mental state is made.

Effort Syndrome

A person with subnormal tolerance for exercise experiences breathlessness, rapid beating of the heart, sweating, and dizziness on even such mild exertion as climbing a short flight of stairs. Such effort intolerance may be due to a constitutional inferiority present since infancy, or it may have developed from emotional disturbance.

The effort syndrome may not be recognized if the individual avoids heavy physical work. Possessing a frail physique and a conviction that he has always had a “weak heart” or “lung trouble,” he has always dreaded the supposed ill effects of vigorous physical exercise. The response of the heart and respiration to exercise is usually as poor as if he possessed the suppose heart and lung disorders.

Under pressure of a job requiring occasional physical exertion the effort syndrome is seen. Under such a condition of pressure his feelings of insufficiency may be exaggerated until he is out of harmony with his surroundings. Recovery commences when he is restored to an environment which is within his effort capacity and when no further intense pressures are anticipated. The effect upon this individual of a program of physical education which does not consider individual differences in response to exercise would probably be to increase emotional conflict and result in further motor disorganization.