Weight training myths

Innocent Choga - Fitness

Ever since I was young I have often heard a lot of myths associated with weight training. It has been identified with so many bad things that at times I often wondered why some people would enjoy such a scandalous activity.

It is only after enjoying the benefits that I got to appreciate weight training as a form of exercise.

Weight Training And High Blood Pressure

One of the long standing debates I have heard is that weight training increases blood pressure and aerobic activity reduces blood pressure. Medical experts say blood pressure is caused by friction between flowing blood and the blood vessels’ walls. Normally during exercise our blood pressure and heart rates increase.

Bearing that in mind I think these two forms of training complement each other in easing and eliminating blood pressure. Aerobic activities help expand (dilate) blood vessels close to the heart like the arteries.

One of the most unique features of weight training is the ability to pump a large amount of blood into a particular muscle group. This gorging of blood (what we call pump) forces the blood vessels in the muscles being worked on to expand.

This expansion called vasodilatation then allows blood to pass through without friction thereby assisting in lowering blood pressure and heart rate at rest. Neglecting working a certain muscle group is therefore great self disservice as far as expanding blood vessels in that area is concerned.

Individuals with blood pressure should start training light and go for high repetitions. They should breathe rhythmically during exercise and they should avoid holding their breath. Most of all they should consult their doctors before taking up weight training. In my opinion weight training is the best form of exercise to counter high blood pressure.

Post weight training weight gain

Questions that I often hear: Why do weight trainers gain a lot of weight when they stop training with weights? And why do most of them suffer from heart problems or even succumb to heart attacks and strokes.

The problem with exercise is that we only enjoy these benefits during the time that we follow the exercise lifestyle. When we stop exercising we also stop enjoying the benefits. There is no pension (favourable after effects) in exercise. The only benefit we accrue is muscle memory.

This is a situation whereby the muscles recall what they used to do and when we start exercising again they easily and quickly adapt.

So when one stops exercising vasoconstriction occurs; the blood vessels shrink because of low activity. There is also need to reduce food intake to balance the equation of food consumed and energy expended.

Also weight trainers, just like everyone else may suffer from genetically inherited diseases and illnesses which can be controlled, masked or eliminated during the period they exercise but will resurface when they stop training.

Performance enhancement substances are culprits too, as they tend to increase blood pressure, harden the arteries and also cause accumulation of cholesterol in the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular diseases are not caused by weight training but the unhealthy habits that we indulge in even as we exercise.

Defined Abdominals And Health

Is an extremely defined abdominal section the ultimate sign of fitness and good health?

Having a slight stomach bulge is not a bad thing at all. One cannot stay in good shape for the whole year, unless one is an athlete because it is their job to be in shape. Fitness can be a graph that has ups, plateaus and downs, but one should never go back to the very low starting phase.

Most of the sharply defined stomachs we see in magazines are timed for the day of shooting photographs. These athletes, just like body builders in their peak condition, are not in their healthiest state.

They have to diet so strictly to achieve that look that shows the sinewy muscle fibre .No amount of sit ups can bring out sharply defined abdominals, but this is mainly due to low fat body composition.

Apart from the very low body fat percentage the electrolytes are not in balance because of the cutting off of sodium and water to achieve paper thin skin.

In the off season most let go, but some stay in near contest condition to avoid the hard work that is necessitated by being out of shape.

The peak condition is maintained for a short period of time because it causes stress on the body. This is the reason why a body-builder cannot participate frequently in tournaments in the same way as soccer players who have matches all weekends during the season.

My guest this week is a thirty four year old lawyer Godman Chingoma, who works for one of the top law firms in Zimbabwe with whom I had an interesting chat. Chingoma’s story is different from our usual stories of people trying to lose weight. He says he started weight training in order to gain weight and to improve his self estee.

Chingoma said when he left the university in 2005 he was skinny and weighed fifty five kilograms only. He has achieved what he wanted as he now weighs eighty two kilograms. Chingoma says he has toned down on using heavyweights; he now alternates heavy and light weights.

Previously he used heavy weights because, through research he learnt he was an ectormorph (lean person who finds it hard to gain weight ). So to gain weight he had to train heavy, but now as he is getting older he has to take it easy to avoid injuries.

Personally, Chingoma is the only person living with albinism that I have seen training in the gym. He says training has helped him create a positive impact among peers. He started weight training in 2010 after being involved in rugby and martial arts as a youth. He had to switch to weight training because as he says people living with albinism are prone to visual impairment and rugby and martial arts require good vision.

So for him weight training was the right activity to turn to since he does not have to depend on vision. “It is one activity that even a blind person can participate in, isn’t it?” he laughed. He wishes to encourage other individuals living with albinism to take up exercise to improve the quality of their lives. He says nothing should stop them to achieve whatever they want and they should never entertain any negative feelings about themselves.

I always thought of Chingoma as a gutsy young man. One of the reasons being that I used to see him push heavy weights doing his favourite exercises which included the dreaded squats and dead lifts. Also one of his early training partners was the dreaded Collin Mushunje ,a former national bodybuilding middleweight champion turned power lifter who is notorious for bending bars in gyms.

He then went on to train with two other very muscular lawyers who also train very heavy Tawanda Chiurayi and Blessing Biza. He says their common profession united them in training and training together has made them good friends out of the gym. Their wives have also become the best of friends.

Now Chingoma trains by himself. He has moved places so he is working out at a gym close to his new residence. His wife Kuzivakwashe does not only approve of and support his fitness lifestyle but she is also now a casual member at the gym. Chingoma says he will certainly encourage his two year son Kimani to take up exercising or sport.

Chingoma trains three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This allows him to juggle his training in case he misses one day he will train the next day. He says he just has to find time to train. To him it is just like taking meals and if he is busy, a missed meal can always be compensated for.

The first two days he follows a push/pull routine pulling biceps/back on day one and pushing chest/triceps the next. The third day is a mixture of pull and pressing movements; legs and shoulders.

His four days of rest in between workouts allow him to replenish his energy reserves and to fully recover from workouts thereby rebuilding the split cells resulting in the growth that he requires. He switches routines every month or two but this is his foundation routine.

Chingoma says he is not obsessed about the diet issue but he tries to eat clean. He advises that “training should be a lifestyle, a marathon more than a sprint and it takes willpower, patience, dedication, consistency and discipline.

One has to be content with their different and unique physique, understand their genetic limitations and avoid comparing themselves with the “perfect bodies”. “Do not push yourself to match those physiques we see in magazines that are portrayed as ideal physiques,” he says.

Contact: [email protected] Innocent Choga is a six time National Bodybuilding Champion with international experience. He is studying for a science degree in Physical Education and Sport.

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