Tag Archives: leg muscles

Developing the Right Exercise Program For You

Muscle Training: At the beginning any heavy lifting with weights should be avoided. Small size weights (2-10 pounds) with small number of repetitions for each exercise offers a good place to start. You can join an exercise group, join a gym which will have professionals skilled at weight training and other forms of exercise, or you can develop your own program working from descriptions and photos or videos of workouts shown on various Internet sites that are not difficult to find. Gradually you will pick up the pace and develop a specific program emphasizing different muscle groups on different days of the week.

Try to do a 20 min workout with weights three times a week at the beginning. You can emphasize two muscle groups for each of the three sessions. For example, on day one you can emphasize arms and shoulders; day two, chest and back and on day three, core and leg muscles. Arms, shoulders, back and chest muscles can be done with dumb bells or bar bells. So can core and leg exercises, but with both core and leg muscles you have many more options. There are a substantial number of core exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, plank, side-bends and so-forth that can be done with and without weights. Many of these can be combined with a small of large heavy ball held in the hands. Read in othere Internet sites about the use of the “medicine ball” and the “Swiss ball.”

For legs, in addition to various resistance machines in gyms, you can use both dumb bells and bar bells as well. However, during our waking hours we use our leg muscles nearly all the time when we are walking about or running or cycling. When getting started as I noted in yesterday’s blog post a half mile to a one mile walk each morning or evening will harden up the leg muscles substantially over the first month of your new exercise routine. Gradually, you can add some running to the daily routine or you can ride a bike. Either of these strategies will increase your use of specific leg muscles that are used not quite as much in simple walking. It is not uncommon to develop cramps in specific leg muscles if your approach this phase of activity with greater zeal than you should at the outset. Once again, start slow and pick this up the pace as you become used to the workout.

Eventually, you can walk or run or run-walk or simple fast walk 4-5 miles a day. This may take about an hour or less. Humans walking at a fast pace will walk about 4 miles and hour. At a relatively leisurely pace 2.8-3.0 miles per hour is easily achieved.

If you want to monitor your walking independently various devices are available which will help you keep track of your steps, mileage and/or calories burned during the walk. The best of these in my view is a FitBit, that is worn on your wrist. It may linked to your computer, tablet or phone to keep tabs on the numbers of steps or miles walked as well as the numbers of calories burned each time you go our for a walk. You computer will keep track of everything, even the number of steps taken each time you go to the bathroom during the night.

Another alternative to keep track of the leg exercises is to use a treadmill. You can vary the speed and most treadmills will monitor heart rate and allow you to go at a “fat burn” pace which is 60 percent of your maximum age-adjusted heart rate or a little faster up to about 80 percent of maximal heart rate for briefer periods. In the latter case, slowly working up to an 80 percent rate after about 12-15 minutes and staying there for 3-5 minutes is an excellent invigorating exercise that will keep the heart muscles fit. Once you are in pretty good shape from a combination of weight loss and exercise you may want to try this (provided your heart is generally healthy and your physician agrees). I personally do this 2-3 times a week. In addition, these strategies on the treadmill represent an alternative to the other walking, running or other leg exercise routines noted above, and should not be done in addition. You may also wish to substitute some of the above leg weight training with cycling.

During all resistance training with weights as well as roadwork, drink plenty of water. A rule of thumb is 6-8 oz glasses of water for one who is at or near optimal weight. Initially though, if you are over weight then add an additional 8 oz glass of water for each 5 pounds you are overweight. Thus, if you are 20 pounds overweight and on an exercise program approximated by the above, you should drink about 10-8 oz glasses of water (or about 80 oz of water a day) Coffee and tea and all other liquids consumed during the day should not be counted as part of this total.

In general, you should eat sensibly consuming relatively more protein and fiber at the expense of carbohydrate and fat. Drink small amounts of coffee or tea and no caffeinated soft drinks if possible. Keep your consumption of alcohol down as well. We’ll come back to dietary issues in a subsequent blog post.