Practice makes perfect

Innocent Choga Fitness
Adopting a fitness oriented lifestyle helps us to enjoy life and the cash that we toil for most of our lives. A fit and conditioned individual is like a well serviced vehicle; the muscles, tendons and ligaments are strong and flexible. Endurance is high and the performance effortless. Even classic cars or

vintage cars perform well when serviced regularly, so even the elderly also benefit a lot from regular exercise.

Fitness components include muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, strength, power and reaction time. The more of these components one possesses the better. These components can be acquired through training and practice.

Many people drop out of training during the first days due to the initial pains caused by lactic acid, a condition caused by lack of oxygen in a particular muscle during execution of an exercise, which is typical of anaerobic exercises like weight training. Consistency is needed for perfection. When the training becomes perfect we tend to see results. Results build our confidence and motivation; success breeds success.

Most athletes make the mistake of training with weights once a week. Once one decides to cross train with weights for strength endurance there is need to be committed and train at least two or more sessions per week.

That way one builds strength endurance (the ability to withstand fatigue) for this activity. Training with weights does not mean automatic increase in size as most athletes think. Just as weights can be used to gain or lose weight or just maintain a tone of the muscles, they can also be used for strength, power, flexibility and protection. Fit and conditioned athletes make hard work look easy. Difficult moves look very easy. To mind comes Brazilian Ronaldinho who would break into a big smile after displaying some exceptional skills. Muscular endurance enables athletes to display their skills without inhibitions, leaving them totally absorbed in the process of displaying their skills.

Being fit and conditioned minimises the chances of getting injured. A bit of muscle built in areas surrounding a joint will act as a buffer against damaging impacts.

Apart from joining muscles, the purpose of the ligaments is to stabilise the joined muscles, thereby strengthening them, improving balance. Many athletes fail to recover from injuries that could have been avoided thus prematurely ending their sporting careers.

Being fit and being skilful are two different things altogether. Being skilful is inherent, but the skills have to be sharpened by practice. I have seen talented, skilful athletes failing to reach the peak of their careers because of laziness and I have seen average talents reaching high levels because of passion, hard work and practice. When the going gets tough the unfit athlete will simply give in and the fit athlete will rise to the occasion.

Some body-builders will train hard the whole year but their final presentation does not match the hard work done in the gym.

Posing requires muscular endurance; one has to tense the whole body from the calves to the neck. Judges do not look for the biggest dimensions only but also for the individual presenting the best shape, proportion, tie -ins and symmetry in that pose.

This ranges from the calves thighs, abdominals, waist, latissimus dorsi, chest and the arms. A big athlete presenting this package in all poses wins, but a smaller person presenting better shape can take the trophy. This is how body-builders who are small in stature prevail against giants.

Twine Phiri Caps United co-owner and former Premier Soccer League boss, is one of the sport executives I see training at one of the top gyms in Harare. Twine says he has been working out consistently for the past seven years. He tries to work out three or four days a week. He does both aerobic classes and weight sessions. He is also into running.

Twine Phiri used to send his entire team to the gym as he believed fitness was good for them. He says he is wary of the food he eats. He says, “A healthy lifestyle helps people to better handle their daily tasks and keeps us on our toes. It also keeps us sharp mentally.”

I also had a word with Andrew Kwirirai a marathon runner who will be making his fifth attempt to win the Comrades Marathon on the May in Durban after getting silver trophies twice.

According Andrew the physiology of marathon runners is that their muscle is largely composed of slow twitching muscles, a genetic condition which can also be acquired through specific training. Because these fibres are high in capillary density and they also have a high aerobic capacity they resist fatigue enabling marathon runners to run for long distances.

For his preparations Andrew is running fifty to sixty kilometres once per week. He also uses interval training method, combining aerobic and anaerobic training; running fast in short distances and slow long in distances with resting periods in between. He also uses the fartlek method varying the speed and also the terrain he runs over. Andrew is also using gym work as recovery training. He concentrates on calves, hamstrings and quadriceps. He works on the treadmill for variety in running.

Andrew does not intend to gain any weight at all. He also pays a lot of attention on the type of food he consumes. For constant energy during workouts he has to make sure his glycogen stores are loaded through energy drinks and water. He also says mental strength is important, as a lapse in concentration even for a very short distance can see him losing ground. I wish him all the best.

Innocent Choga is a six time National Body-building Champion with international experience. He is studying for a science degree in Physical Education and Sport. Feedback [email protected]

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