A Prescription for Endurance

Let’s just pause for a moment and revise the steps in developing your home fitness program. You’ve carefully thought about why you want to get fit. You’ve set yourself some goals that you know you can achieve with just a little bit of effort. You’ve written those goals down and developed a strategy for reaching those fitness goals.

When you sat down to create your plan you took your work, leisure, and family commitments into account, and you found a minimum of 30 minutes a day in your busy schedule that you could devote exclusively to creating a lean, mean fitness machine out of your current dumpy, dour and dismal body.

You’ve also found your own exercise place where you can exercise undisturbed. This exercise place can be at home, or you may have joined a fitness center.

You now understand the potential health risks of not preparing your body before exercise and recovering after every single exercise session. You always, without exception, warm up your body and mobilize your joints before any sort of exercise, sport, fitness, or physical recreation activity.

You never finish an exercise, sport, fitness, physical exertion, or physical recreation activity without putting on a sweatshirt and spending five to 10 minutes gradually recovering, and then stretching the muscles used in that activity.

You’ve also spent the last four weeks gradually laying down a foundation of aerobic fitness. This core of aerobic fitness means that your body will function more efficiently, will recover from the exertions of daily life (including physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual exertion), and will make fitness adaptations that will enable it to do more work with less fatigue in the future.

No matter that you might also train for sports-type activities (strength, power, endurance), or dance type activities (flexibility, balance, coordination, grace), or martial arts type activities (control, skill, harmony), you must also train for life. Always ensure that you maintain good aerobic fitness so that every system of your body will work at optimum efficiency, be it digestion, skin, heart, breathing, excretion, or your brain!

The prescription for endurance exercises is:

  • A preparation phase – mobilize your shoulders, neck, back, and hips, and then do five minutes of warm-up exercises, such as walking, or exercise bike.
  • If you want to include some aerobic activity in your session, put it in here. Do the endurance exercises when you finish your 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity.
  • Do 10 repetitions of all endurance exercises.
  • Rest for two to three minutes – active or passive rest.
  • Do another 10 reps of every exercise.
  • Walk for two to three minutes; stretch your shoulders by reaching towards the ceiling; your neck by looking over one shoulder, then the other; your back by standing with legs shoulder-width apart, knees bent, arms by your side, then gently rotating your torso from one side to the other.
  • Stretch your torso by standing with legs shoulder-width apart, knees bent, arms by your side. Lean to one side, then the other. Lie on your back on the floor and stretch your body as long as it will go. Stretch your abdominals – lie on your front, lift your chest so that you can cross your arms in front of your chest, then relax down and rest the weight of your upper body on your elbows. Relax.

The abs muscle is the broad, flat muscle that joins your ribs to the pubis of your pelvis. It’s the one that forms the bumpy breadboard down the front of the abdominal area when you get lean and muscly. It has two prime-moving functions – to flex your spine and to pull the front of your pelvis towards your ribs, called a “pelvic tilt”.

The partial curl will concentrate the center of effort towards the top of the abs muscle, but you also need to strengthen and tighten the lower part, or you end up with that little pot below your belly button!

To do a pelvic tilt, lie on your back on the floor, knees bent to 90 degrees, hands by your side. Bend at the hips to lift your feet 10cm to 20cm off the floor. Now imagine that there is a glass of water balanced on your knees. Now keep in mind that you’re going to get wet if you move your knees backward towards your chest or away from your body so your feet get closer to the ground.

Put one hand on your lower abdominals and the other hand on your buttocks. Concentrate on your abdominals and contract them as hard as you can, keeping every other muscle in your body relaxed. You should feel your abdominals contract, but your buttock muscles (gluteals) should remain relaxed, and your knees should move slightly up towards the ceiling. Don’t let your knees move backward and forward or that glass of water will fall on you!

Balance out this exercise by working on your lower back. Turn over so you’re lying on your front. Bring your hands up to your chin and relax your whole body. Now slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor while you count to three, and lower them back to the floor while you count to two. Relax for a second before repeating the exercise.

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