Monday, 7 March 2011

What's the most important piece of equipment in the gym?

There's two things I always tell people in the gym and fitness classes.  1) Everything you really need to know about fitness you learned in grade 11 Physics. 2) The MP3 Player is the most important piece of fitness equipment you'll ever own.

One of the most key elements to an effective workout (and this goes for cardio & weights) is what you're listening to.  Folks who don't listen to music in the gym are never nearly as consistent as those who do.  Seriously, it just makes your exercising better.

And musicians, you guys and gals are a trainer's favourite clients!! You're so easy for us to train because you already know how to count. Well, not the drummers. KIDDING, just kidding!!   We love having you in the gym!

The key to music and weight training is understanding the timing of what we call the positive and the negative of an exercise.  So, for example, if I you to do a bicep curl you'd have the positive - bringing the weight up towards your shoulder, contracting the bicep and extending the tricep - and the negative in which you return to the starting position of the exercise. Far too often I see people really hauling a weight up too fast and just sort of flopping out on the return.  Those folks are relying more on momentum than actual muscle contraction.  The right music, for those who will listen, can make all the difference in the timing. In a 4/4 time, a simple 2 beats to go up and 2 to come down works for starters.  From there you can vary it all kinds of way. 

When it comes to cardio, you want to get up around the 126 bpm mark or higher.  Music for aerobics classes starts at this speed for warming up and then goes up from there, depending on the class type. Yes, that's why your old favs get re-mixed for aerobics classes.  They have to be the right speed and mixed into blocks of 32 beats so we instructors know when to change to the next block of moves.  Sorry.  We know musically it's not usually very good.

One more suggestion, especially for the non techno fans out there.  For the most part the best stuff to play in the gym falls into the hard rock and classic metal categories. Pacing and a good strong beat no one can miss means most people with no musical skill what so ever can follow it.  That's why you hear a lot of that in weight rooms.  Which just reminded me of the third thing I often say in the gym... There's a very short distance between pumping iron and Iron Maiden.

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