Fitness is defined as a state of health and well-being. Together with your physical and mental health the ability to run, swim, play sports but also perform daily routine tasks indicate how fit you are. This is achieved by different aspects of your life such as working out, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. After reading this article you know everything you need to know about:
1. the effect it has on your physical and mental well-being
2. different goals you can pursue in the gym
3. the role of nutrition
4. different types of muscle groups
5. different types of exercises
Fitness refers to a person’s strength, muscle mass or endurance. These are all good indicators of how fit someone is. Increasing your fitness level enhances your physical condition:
- It prevents weight gain
- Decreases the chances of different forms of cancer
- Decreases the chances of getting a heart disease
- Decreases the chance of developing diabetes 2
- Strengthens your immune system
- Increases your energy level
- Improves your ability to sleep
Bedides the physical element, working out also improves your mental well-being:
- It reduces stress
- Decreases the chances of developing anxieties
- Decreases the chances of developing a depression
- Increases your ability to be creative
- Makes you feel happy
- Increases your self-esteem
The term ‘fitness’ is automatically linked to working out in the gym. This is one of the places that people go to when they want to become more fit. Gyms offer a variety of possibilities to get you in shape. Besides the ‘normal’ machines the average gym provides you with dumbbells (free weights), barbells, kettlebells, ropes, steps and weight bags.
All the different types of workouts can be reduced to 4 different goals: developing muscle mass, developing muscle strength, increasing muscle endurance and losing weight. The fitness techniques mentioned below determine which goal you are pursuing:
- The number of exercises that your perform per training session
- The number of sets per exercise
- The number of repetitions (reps) per set
- The weight used per rep
- The rest time in between sets
- The number of training days per week
In order to make your muscles grow it’s important that you include enough exercises in your daily routine. 3 different exercises is the minimum. And depending on the number of sets per exercise that you perform you can increase the number of exercises per workout to 4 or 5 exercises for maximum results.
Perform at least 3 sets per exercise. This increases the effectiveness of your workout. If you have enough energy, especially for your first 2 or 3 exercises, try to perform 4 sets per exercise.
When your goal is to develop muscle mass it’s crucial that you perform between 8 and 12 reps per set with a weight that is 75% of your maximum weight. The maximum weight is being defined as 1RM. RM stands for Repetition Maximum and it defines the heaviest weight that you can use in order to make one repetition.
Keep the intensity of your workout high by resting 1 min. to 1.5 min. in between sets. This gives your body time to recover but at the same time keeps constant tension on the muscles to really tear them apart by the end of your workout.
When your goal is to develop strength it’s important that you focus on working out with heavy weights. Use weights that are between 80% and 100% of your 1RM.
Compared to developing muscle strength you perform more sets than when focussing on increasing muscle strength. The minimum is 4 sets per exercise, but this can even increase to 5 of 6 sets.
Perform between 1 and 6 reps per set to focus on strength. When you perform more than 6 reps the focus shifts to developing mass.
By giving yourself enough time to rest in between sets you are recovering enough to be able to perform more reps with such as heavy weight. Rest periods around 2 to 3 minutes are not uncommon when it comes to developing muscle strength.
It's also important to include enough exercises and training days per week. A minimum of 3 exercises is required for both of these aspects of training.
Without the right diet you will not succeed in achieving your goals. It’s that simple. When you want to develop muscle mass and strength you need to take in enough protein, carbohydrates and essential fats in order to grow.
When you don’t eat properly, all your effort and energy in the gym is for nothing. You will only grow and become stronger when you fuel your body with the right nutrients.
When you find it difficult to take in the minimum amount of nutrients that your body needs to develop you can take supplements to support your intake. These supplements usually come in the form of a shake or pill. Whey protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals are some of the well known examples of supplements that athletes use.
There are plenty of websites that offer a wide range of supplements. Here you can order all the supplements mentioned above and much more!
Your body can be divided into seven different muscle groups. The three biggest muscle groups are:
The leg muscle can be divided into the lower leg muscle (calf) and the upper leg muscle. The upper leg consists of the hamstring at the back, the quadriceps at the front and the gluten at the buttocks.
Your back can be divided into the muscles in your lower back, your upper back (trapezius) and the muscles on the side which are also referred to as your ‘wings’.
When training your chest (pectoralis major) there are 3 muscles that you can isolate: the lower part, the upper part and the middle part of your chest. And although it’s not a separate muscle you could argue that the part in between your pecs is the fourth area of the chest muscle that you can train.
The four smaller muscle groups are:
Located on the front of the upper arm consisting of a big central muscle and a smaller at the top of the bicep called the ‘head’ of the muscle. The bicep attaches to two (bi) different parts of the arm.
Located at the back of the upper arm the triceps consists of 2 different muscles that together form the triceps brachii. The bicep attaches to three (tri) different parts of the arm.
The biggest muscle in the shoulder is the musculus deltoideus who derives its name from the triangular shape (delta). It attaches between the shoulder blade and the upper arm.
Your abdominal muscles consist of 4 different sections. The muscles at the front are called the rectus abdominis. This is the muscle that we refer to when we use the term six pack.
On the side of your stomach are the internal and external abdominal oblique. And the deepest of the abdominal muscles is the
transverse abdominis. Its function is to keep your spine and core stable.
In order to fully target your entire body your workout plan should include exercises that focus on all of these 7 different muscle groups.
There are many different exercises that you can perform in the gym. Free weights, barbells and machines are just a couple of examples. But at the end of the day all exercises can be divided into two different types: push and pull exercises. These types are based on the motion and moment of weight load.
If you perform an exercise that trains the muscle when you pull the weight towards your body it’s called a pull exercise. Muscle groups that you workout with pull exercises are back, bicep and abs.
Push exercises are the exact opposite; to train the muscle you push the weight away from your body. You train your chest, legs, triceps and shoulders via push exercises.