Adopt new fitness aspirations

Innocent Choga Fitness
After saying goodbye to the year 2015 we give thanks and praise to the Lord for the year’s blessings and we ask for more blessings in 2016. In our fitness aspirations we have to plan to do things differently from what we did in the previous year. Even if the things we did work well, it is necessary that

we change somehow and find new ways to attain our fitness goals. Because we are a year older our physical make up changes either for the better in the young or for the worse in the elderly, like myself.

The hormones add up for the young and we the elderly lose a bit; however there are a lucky few individuals whose rate of hormone loss is extremely slow and whose fitness and performances defy their ages.

Besides, the body is intelligent. It has mechanisms that allow it, in time, to adapt to set training routines. So we might find out that the workout routines and diets that worked for us last year might not work the same for us in the coming year. This is especially true for competitive athletes.

Maturing athletes will become faster, bigger, leaner, agile, stronger and more powerful. Ageing athletes could find themselves becoming slower, smaller, less agile, less powerful with less strength and more prone to a host of injuries.

The aged could even gain more fat on a diet that they were comfortable with as youths, thus the need for stricter diets for longer periods in order to lose fat. The elderly are also prone to suffer from many diseases and illnesses.

That is how the age cheats in sport can cause the raising of eyebrows at times: When someone performs way beyond the expectations of someone of their age or when someone is becoming too slow and injury prone when they are expected to be maturing and recovering fast. When they are young the aerobic capacity for children is still low because their lungs and hearts are still small. As the young mature the lungs and hearts become bigger, hence their aerobic capacity increases and their performance at this stage is in the prime stage.

Increased aerobic capacity is the ability of the heart and lungs to take up a lot of oxygen and supply it to the working muscles in large volumes. As we get older our aerobic capacity reduces as well because our blood vessels become constricted. In gymnastics peak performance happens when children are young and more flexible and maturity is, therefore, a disadvantage.

There are a few exceptions though, of people who are still performing despite their ages. I was amazed to hear that soccer player, Gilbert Mushangazhike is still playing as a player-coach, and it is a good thing that he is showing the young ones how it is done. Veteran soccer player Elliot Matsika is still playing as well. In body-building, there are some athletes who have weathered the storm of ageing, the likes of George Munyoro, winner of the Masters in 2015 and Isaac (Sugar Sugar) Chimuchenga is growing from strength to strength despite his age.

The recent winner of the Sportswoman and Sportsperson of the year, Helen Costa Sinclair is also going very strong at the age of 35.

Middle and Light heavyweight Boxing Champion Bernard Hopkins, aged 50 holds the record for being the oldest boxer to win a title. The advantage of exercising is that it slows down these ageing processes.

The ability to realise the changes that come with age and craft training and diet regimens that suits the new physical changes to fit the one’s goals is a blessing that allows us to progress despite our ages.

The fact that these changes are slow and gradual sometimes makes us unaware of the physical changes and puts us in denial thus failing to strategise and plan anew.

This I speak from experience. Despite the fact that things have to change in training and diet; variety is the spice of life as far as exercising is concerned.

The changes do not have to be drastic.

These changes could be, for example, should one add variety and cross train and which disciplines should one cross train with?

Should one do more aerobic activities than anaerobic activities or vice versa?

Should one exercise more frequently or less frequently?

Should the recovery period from workouts be shorter or longer?

Should the workouts be more or less intense; using more or fewer repetitions, more or fewer sets?

Should the duration of the sessions be longer or shorter?

Should one take more or less time to rest in between sets?

Should one use heavy or light weights?

What should be the proportion as far as machine and free weights use is concerned, etc.

Which exercises should one shelve (possibly for a while) and which new exercises should one introduce?

Also remember some of the basic things do not have to change. For example when it comes to change of exercises, there is no exercise which can replace the squats in the gym.

There are many alternatives for those who are unfortunate to be unable to squat because of various reasons, but the alternative machines will never match the effectiveness of the basic free weights squat.

Running is also a basic physical activity that plays a major unmatched role and running is of great benefit to participants in all sports and physical activities.

If we have been exercising for some time, there is need for us to upgrade our exercise sessions. For example, if you are into walking and you walk throughout your sessions, you might graduate to brisk walking or even add a few metres of jogging at the end of the walk. That is, if one has no complications that prevent him/her from running. This process, though, should be followed by a further walk to cool down.

Should one eat more or eat less? Considering, if the person is maturing and active the metabolism rate should be getting high, so one can eat more. If one is getting older and less active the metabolism rate could be declining, so there is need to eat less.

How much of certain foods should one eat, that is, in what proportions?

For example how much of white meat or red meat, how much protein how much carbohydrates and how much fat should one eat at a certain stage in life, considering his/her lifestyle?

Also remember there are basics that should not change in diet, and that is the fact that we should have a balanced diet for optimum health benefits.

In view of the above considerations there is need to have a vision or mission statement for every new year, a need to strategise, plan and organise.

We then need to evaluate the effect of the implemented strategies and plans at various stages and finally at the end of the year.

One should follow the SMART principle; that means, the plan should be simple and specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time framed. We shall discuss this in a future article.

All the changes discussed above are done in consideration of one’s age. This is why it is important to tell your trainer your correct age and your aspirations so that he/she will prescribe the correct training and diet.

After an evaluation of the last year’s plans one should have new objectives for the new year. Although they say experience teaches us wisdom, it does not have to be your experience. So do not wait until you hit the rock and reach the stagnant phase, change when you are still motion.

A New Year, new aspirations, new strategy and new plans will create the new you that you desire. Failure to change, strategise and plan may result in frustrations.

  • Email;[email protected] Choga is a six time National Bodybuilding Champion with international experience. Currently he is studying for a science degree in Physical Education and Sport.
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