What Are The Best Exercises For My Body Type?

young man jogging on beach
Q:
I see so many people at the gym doing all sorts of different exercises, and there are just so many different pieces of equipment – it’s very overwhelming. How do I figure out what exercises are best for my body type, especially when I don’t have a lot of time?

A: I understand completely what you mean. Because there are several variations (and names) for the same exercises it is incredibly easy to become overwhelmed with the options. But if you know some basic guidelines to resistance training and the primary function of each major muscle group, you will be well on your way to tackling the confusion without spending countless hours in the gym.

First, the primary reason for resistance training is to make the muscles bigger and stronger thus making them work more efficiently. Second, regardless of body type, muscles usually work in conjunction with one another and they have opposing groups, so if you train the muscles with that in mind the task may seem less daunting.

Today, many health clubs boast a machine based full body workout that can be completed in a short time. In most cases, a member can train all the major muscle groups inside 30 minutes and still make major improvements for the body. Even if you are not a member of a gym, you can still develop an effective full body workout based on this information.

There are roughly 7 sections of the body that need to be trained in order to qualify as a “full body workout.”

1. Buttocks
2. Legs (front, back)
3. Back
4. Chest
5. Shoulders
6. Arms (Front, back)
7. Abdominals

One exercise for each of these groups performed 2-3/week will produce instant and long lasting results.

1. Leg Press or Squats. Works the entire leg especially the gluteal muscles.

2. Leg Extensions for the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and Leg Curls for the hamstrings (back of the thigh).

3. Pull-Down. This exercise develops the major muscle of the back (latissimus dorsi) and requires the help of the rhomboids and trapezius to move the scapula.

4. Chest Press. This exercise opposes the work done by the back muscles by developing the pectoralis major. This muscle works whenever we are pushing away from the body.

5. Overhead Press for the deltoids (shoulder muscle) with assistance from the triceps and upper trapezius.

6. Bicep Curls for biceps brachii (front of the arm) and Triceps Extensions for the triceps brachii (back of the arm).

Remember that proper posture is key to training the deepest abdominal muscle, transversus abdominis. Pulling the navel in towards the spine works this muscle whether in the gym or out. Crunches, reverse crunches and twisting exercises, or my personal favorite, the Pilates Abs Series. Ensure that your entire workout is done with intention and focus on form, NOT number of reps.

Also, if you’re unsure about a move, or need additional help, or just have some questions, feel free to ask a trainer to help you out. Many times, it cost nothing to just ask them a few questions…but the benefits of exercising correctly are priceless!

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8 Tips To Make DVD Workouts Work for You

A man watching tv while doing crunches on a blue fitness ball
Not sure if you want to brave the gym yet, or ever? With a wide variety of workouts now available on DVD, you can save time and money by getting fit and burning calories in the privacy of your own home.

Before you get started, check out these useful tips:

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1. Shop around. Before trying a workout video or DVD, read the description to make sure it’s the appropriate fitness level and length for you, and that you already have or don’t mind buying any necessary equipment. If you want to “try before you buy,” check your local library or video store to see if they carry exercise videos. You can find dumbbells, aerobic steps, and other workout equipment in most sporting goods stores.

2. Clear the area. Make sure you have enough space (you might have to move some furniture) to move around without kicking anything. Be extra careful if you’re trying out a video for the first time — you need to have enough room for any unfamiliar moves.

3. Be prepared. Get your water bottle, tissues, and any workout equipment you need assembled before you start the workout, so you don’t have to stop and get something.

4. Watch out for kids and pets. If you have pets or young children, make sure they are safely out of the way. Having a cat batting your ankles during yoga is not the best path to peace of mind!

5. Stay focused. Keep a notepad and pen handy so that if you think of something distracting during your workout, like an errand you have to do, you can just write it down and continue with your routine. This will help you concentrate on the workout.

6. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life, so if you enjoy working out at home, you can slowly accumulate more workout videos to prevent boredom. Even if you absolutely love one routine, you should still try to have at least two workouts you can alternate, to prevent overuse injuries.

7. Don’t get too eager. If the workout includes instructions on proper form, watch it before doing the workout for the first time. Unlike working out at the gym, you won’t have an instructor checking your form, so you need to make sure you’re doing moves correctly.

8. Have fun. Smile, and remember: You’re going to feel great after the workout! When you’re done, treat yourself to a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or handful of nuts, and give yourself a hug for finishing. You’re taking care of yourself on your own terms. As you do more workouts, you will start to feel and see results, which is the best possible motivation!