Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Workout Rush

When I tell people I workout for about two-hours, three-times a week – sometimes even four times a week – they look at me as if I were nuts.

“Oh I couldn’t do that,” said one co-worker.

“I’d die if I did that,” tells me another.

Well, I do, do that, and I’m not dead. I love a good workout. I think there is a certain addiction to going to the gym and feeling the sweat bead off.

I love every aspect of my workout routines – from the warm-up, to the sauna and everything in between. Sure, there is some pain here and there – but it is the right kind of pain.

A workout “burn” is the sensation of muscle fibers breaking down. In order to build bigger muscles – or even to just maintain current ones – you have to break down the old muscle fiber. New muscle fiber is always required – that’s how you keep the muscles you have, and if you really push it, build new ones.

There’s some truth in the saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” If you don’t use your muscles enough, your muscle fiber doesn’t break down, and congeals and turns to fat.

So, a “burning” sensation is good pain. It drives me and makes me work harder at the gym, as I know that I’m doing something good for my muscles.

I also get into the whole gym culture – I think of it as a day at the spa. First I go in, and I’m warmly greeted by the receptionist as I swipe my access toggle. Then, I get changed into my workout kit – usually gym shorts, a t-shirt, white socks and running shoes.

Now I’m off to hit the exercise bike to warm-up – whoops wait a sec! Got to stop off at the water fountain and fill up my water bottle.

I love this!

After a good warm-up, I do a combo core muscle workout while stretching out all my major muscle groups. This saves time, as I do the stretches while working out, but it also keeps my heart rate up at a workout warm-up level. It is dangerous to workout cold.

Core muscles include abs, obliques (where those love handles appear) and lower and mid-back muscles. This muscle group is called the “core” muscle group, as these are the muscles that support your body’s framework for – well for pretty much everything.

Now I’m off to do some resistance training in the weight rooms. I usually focus on three muscle groups per workout – two upper body and one lower body. Today I did biceps and triceps, and thighs (inner and outer).

It is important to work different muscle groups on different days, so that you actually re-build that muscle fiber.

Remember that “burn” feeling is the feeling of muscle fiber being braking down. The breakdown of muscle fiber occurs while you are using your muscles. The re-placement of new muscle fiber takes place over a day or two, as new muscle fiber develops when those muscles aren’t in as heavy a demand pattern.

So, if you constantly over-exhaust the same muscle groups, all you’re doing is breaking down muscle fibers – you aren’t giving your body enough recuperative time to develop new muscle fibers.

The next time I workout, probably in a day or two, I’ll focus on another series of muscle groups. Most likely chest, shoulders and calves (two upper body groups and one lower body group again).

After I burn iron in the weight rooms – it is time to grab some more water and do an hour on the cardio machines burning fat.

I usually do an hour straight on one machine – say a treadmill, an elliptical machine, or one of the other cardio machines. Sometimes, if I have the time, I’ll do two machines, splitting the hour in half on each machine (30-minutes per machine).

I’m still loving it. Yes, I can still feel my muscles burning from the intense workout, but now at least, I have some TV to watch while running on a treadmill, or pumping my legs and arms on an elliptical machine.

It gets harder sometimes, often around the 45-minute mark. But hey, that means I only have 15-minutes left so I really push it until the machine chimes out “Workout Complete – Cooling Down.”

Now, I do some relaxing stretches, stretching out all the muscle groups all over again. Got to make sure I’m not stiff in any one area, or I’ll really feel it in the morning.

Time for the spa – I get into my bathing suit, grab a towel, fill-up my water bottle and hit the sauna. Ahhhhhh – f*cking paradise.

A good 10-minutes in the sauna helps open up your skin’s pores – kind of like a bath for your skin inside and out. It really does wonders for your skin – prevents and reduces the effects of aging, and makes my skin all soft.

Stretching in the sauna is a great thing too – the heat relaxes muscles allowing them more mobility and elasticity.

Sometimes I’ll take a dive into the hot tub. Hot tubs are also great for your pores, but even better for your muscles. The heat and the water jets really workout kinks in tight muscles.

I finish my whole workout with a nice, lazy hot shower, and I’m all pumped from the adrenalin cursing through my veins. I feel like doing it all over again – and I will – in a couple of days.

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