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The human body is an amazing machine that can adapt to almost any condition. In a never-ending symphony of metabolic chemistry, your body is perpetually under construction, reshaping itself around whatever lifestyle you've embraced.
But what type of lifestyle have you chosen?
In today's world, it's easy to give into the convenience and availability of everything you could possibly need or want, right at your fingertips. This level of availability contributes heavily to a sedentary lifestyle, and it can be very difficult to avoid. Unfortunately, if you lay on the couch all day, you'll become as soft as the very throw pillow you're lying on.
Technology has replaced much of the labor necessary to feed and care for the masses. As a result, most of us work at jobs that require more sitting than moving, and there's usually little, if any, physical work involved. You can see where a dangerous pattern has developed in our society.
What Can Be Done?
Short of quitting your day job and devoting your half your life to a physical conditioning program, what can the average victim of a sedentary lifestyle do to combat the inevitable physical decline associated with this lack of locomotion?
If you repeatedly (and sensibly) challenge your body it will rise to the challenge and physically transform. This level of challenge must always be consistent with you current physical condition.
We think of the human as body broken down into various muscles and groups of muscles that work independently of each other. In reality, there is no actual separation, and exercise that generates a multi-faceted response can bring into play large amount of muscle fibers from across many different groups, as well as challenge endurance, balance, and coordination all at the same time.
For example, when a performing classic push-up, traditionally considered a chest and shoulder exercise, your body assumes a state of muscle contraction from head to toe. Chest, arms, abs, low back, lats, thighs, calves, and feet are all working to keep you off the floor.
The amount of muscle recruited to prevent you from falling flat on your face (in the push-up posture) can be greater than a full set of most exercises performed on sophisticated gym equipment. Achieving the level of simultaneous muscle contraction that's necessary to complete even a few push-ups is a very quick way to reshape your body and ultimately reduce body fat.
Every person requires a different approach. The amount, type, and intensity of every program needs to be adjusted to that individual. However, at the foundation of every routine should stand 3 or 4 functional, multi-purpose exercises that should be unique to that person, easily recruit large amounts of muscle tissue, as well as place reasonably intense demands on strength, endurance, balance and / or coordination in the capacity required. I call these your Function-First exercises.
Your Function-First Exercises Characteristics
· Normally involves flexion across two joints and/or muscle groups.
· Hands and / or feet will be in contact with the floor or other fixed object
· Involves movement in more than one plane (side to side, or front to back)
· Requires substantial effort to stabilize your body during the exercise
· Challenges both strength and endurance simultaneously
· Utilizes non-traditional equipment that's common to your interest group
· Engages more than one muscle (muscle groups)
· Revs up metabolism and burns body fat
· May be totally unique and original (within the limits of safety)
The presence of all or even one of the above characteristics may identify a movement as a Function-First exercise for you. Depending upon level of fitness, goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc., Function-First exercises will vary from one individual to the next. Be sure to include a few in your fitness plan.
Mike Stefano specializes in custom program design, creating functionally sound fitness and weight loss programs for men and women from all walks of life. For more information on Mike's programs, please click here.
MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer and contributor to eDiets, eFitness, & Firehouse.Com. In addition, Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers a customized version of his amazing program, via a comprehensive 15-point fitness profile form.
"My program is a no-nonsense approach to exercise and weight loss that will not only get you fit, but will also fit into your life".
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