Thursday, August 19, 2010

Train for your body shape

Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.

Which one are you - tall or short, squat or not, pear or apple or pumpkin? And just like you don’t squeeze a pear to get apple juice, you don’t train a “tall-ey” the same as a “short-y”. 

Below are the 3 most common body shapes and how to train them:
1. Short and Squat with a rounded bottom (aka – the cumquat, the pear, the mandarin) 
  • If you can vote, but can’t ride on the rollercoaster at Dreamworld cause you haven't hit the height restriction, then you are not very tall... agreed?
  • In my time as a trainer, I’d say that 20% of clients have fallen into this category. And once they understood that no matter how many lunges they did, their legs weren’t going to get any longer, we got some real good training done.
  • With these guys and girls my aim is get them doing resistance training but with higher repeititions - 20 plus. How muscle grows is by lifting heavy and if your thigh bone is not much longer than your arm bone, then extra muscle will make you look like a Eastern Bloc powerlifter. 
  • So high reps ahoy and go for exercises that have a big range of motion... walking lunges, side lunges and step ups are your key for your wheels, while lat pulldowns and rows go good for up top. Not too much chest/shoulder work, cause it can make the area look more prop forward than princess.
  • And cardio - do as the Kenyans do and go long! Nice and slow, keep your body burning fat not sugar and you’ll start to look lither, lengthier and elongated.
Training do’s:
  • Higher reps/big movements
  • Steady state cardio… long, slow distance is great
  • Keep an eye on sugar and overall caloric intake.
2. Tall and thin with the accent on slim (aka the Kidman, the Bean pole, the Drink of Water)
  • Those with long length of bone have a different set of rules to follow. If you only see eye to eye with NBA players then training your body with resistance is all about working with your lever lengths. 
  • From past experience tall folk have trouble adding a little muscle to their frame. Quite often there can be a lot of instability around joints and that makes it tricky to get the right balance between training hard and training smart.
  • Slow and steady gains are the way to go, working with controlled movements. Still, stick with the favourites, like squats to build some junk in the trunk and planks to strengthen the core muscles, and have a good look at your diet to make sure you're eating enough and your body ain't eating itself.
  • As for cardio for fat loss, well my architectural friend... if you're wearing a size 6 from the kid's range and can grate parmesan cheese on your spine then maybe you can miss that spin class. 
Training do’s:
  • Build VMO strength (muscle around knee)
  • Increase stability around shoulder
  • Work with control… slowly does it.
3. Not Tall, not short, not fat, not thin (aka The Jane Doe, The Sally Average, The Girl Next Door)
  • Hey, excuse me for making it seem droll, because being average is awesome! You can get shoes at sales, fly economy in comfort and not piss people off when you sit in front of them at the movies. It also means that you can pretty much go for broke with your training, depending on past injuries and what not.
  • With a green light to train resistance hard 'n' heavy and permission to pound the cardio trail with purpose, this is the category where most of my clients live, and the body shape that experiences the most consistent results.
  • Having said that, this is also the group that tend to know what to do, but don't do it. Because they've never really had a problem buying clothes and they fall into the "healthy" BMI and weight ranges, they run the gauntlet of no exercise and bad eating until BAM!... they're 40 and things change!
  • Then they come see me to try and right the wrongs of a lifetime in 8 weeks. Seriously, for not much time invested you "people of the average" can have bodies that work and look good. For a little bit more effort, then the rewards are expediential. 
Training do’s:
  • Train with resistance… your body will thrive!
  • Embark on a great stretch program to keep limber and ward off injuries
  • Set a goal, find an event and do whatever it takes to keep you training 
Exercise works for every body. The benefits are indisputable There are lots of other shapes and sizes that make this world go round, so please share more ideas on what suits your style.

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