By Omar Elamam
The life of a bug; it’s a hectic one indeed. Early mornings include scurrying around to find food in order to feed the colony, working overtime hours to please the queen without any extra compensation. Their greatest joy is surviving the day without being eaten by a foreign insect or being squashed by human beings. See the similarities? If you haven’t guessed it already, it is the lack of time in a day that you and a common bug seem to share. Time, seems to always be running away from us. The question now becomes not how to find more time, (the recent movie ‘In Time’, starring Justin Timberlake, gives you an awful rendition of that), but how to trick time. Tricking time, with respects to fitness, is not as hard as you may think; nor is it a new concept. Fitness gurus have been able to successfully trick father time for centuries. They may not have seen it as such, but I like to play with words when I can. I encourage you to read on if you hope to trick time yourself one day.
This 20 min workout will be more than enough to get your heart rate going and to develop a good sweat. Whether it is in your home gym, or outside, you can design a workout that tailors to your schedule. Combine 3 to 4 exercises with low weights, and high repetitions. If you are a beginner, start off with body type workouts that do not include weights. Before starting, always start with a 5 – 10 min warm up to prevent injury. In this circuit, you want to include an upper body, lower body, and an abdominal workout in order from largest muscle worked to smallest. For example, for upper body I would include push ups, followed by body squats for lower body, and end off with floor planks for the abdominals. Proceed with repeating the same circuit without rest between workouts. You can increase the level of intensity to meet your needs, but don’t overdo the weights you use; this will tire your muscles out too soon. At the end of the circuit, you will feel like a new you, and then you may collapse and be carried out of the gym in a stretcher (I hope that doesn’t happen!).
If your occupation involves sitting at a desk all day, this is for you. You spend the entire day on a chair typing away, glaring at the desktop with a zombie like figure (although what you’re doing may be quite fascinating) and you’re only given a 30min break. So you decide to spend your break sitting on different chair, doing something else. Seriously! That’s the equivalent of a criminal being given the keys to his cell for a chance to escape and refusing it to stay in jail. Run. Just do it, as NIKE would say. Many workplaces even have organized lunch hour runs. If your job does not have one, why not start it up yourself. Even if the run is only 15min, do not underestimate the power of running. It will increase your energy levels throughout the rest of the day, and also reduce the stress you’ve been building up before you took your break. I say that’s better than a smoke or a kit-kat break.
I will let you in on a little secret. Every one of you is already doing some sort of a workout while you are at work; you just haven’t realized it yet. Whether it involves lifting a box, climbing stairs, or entering your car, your body is experiencing a natural workout. The problem is that your body has become accustomed to the same routine and the muscles being used are not being challenged. Without proper exercise and rest, you will remain at the same level of fitness without any improvements to your strength or power. This is where the functional part comes in. Ideally, you want to imitate actions you would perform on a daily basis in the gym and apply them to your exercise routine. I recommend beginners to stay away from machines entirely because they tend to be too one-dimensional and lack any realistic movement. Resistance bands and tubes are great for creating multi-directional movements and allow you to be creative with your muscles. A twisting lunge can emulate the action of entering your car, or a twisting tree trunk with a resistance tube has the similarities of removing items off a high shelf and placing it on the counter top (look for my future blog exclusively on resistance bands & tubes). The point is that your exercises become practical and fun, because too much of the old thing can definitely get boring (read into it however you wish).
That’s all for today folks. I hope you can take away at least one beneficial piece of advice and apply it to your daily lives. I live to serve and please my people, so consider yourself served!
Omar Elamam is a black belt instructor and personal trainer at Winning Circle Martial Arts and Wellness Center, and has been a rickshaw runner since 2008. He enjoys martial arts, running, nutrition and personal fitness.