How To Lift Weights Correctly

So you have decided that you want to get more fit, more healthy, and get more movement in your body, then you may have considered joining a gym or actually working out at home.

I want to share with you some personal tips that I have used, as I was a gym novice at one point (everyone starts as a beginner, right?)

When I was a teenager, I decided that I needed to make a change, create more movement. Especially coming from an Indian culture where someone who is overweight is described as being “healthy”, I was often described as being “very healthy”.

Initially I was quite scared of going to a gym. Not only because it was very expensive for me at the time, or whether I would even use it enough, but I felt unsure and intimidated by my own limiting beliefs about knowing what to do and where to go.

I was very lucky, at the time I was living with my parents who had bought a treadmill for the family to use, so I had access to that, but I would also go outside for a run, or even a bike ride.

When it came to lifting weights, I was not sure where to start. So I bought a cheap set of weights and start using at home, just on the bedroom floor, every single day. Eventually as my confidence grew, and the weights got heavier, to the point where it was becoming dangerous, I started to consider using a gym so that I could prevent any potential injuries, and take my health and fitness to another level.

I was first worried that I would not fit in in a gym. The image I had in my mind was there would be all these big strong guys in there, and kept on drawing these false comparisons. Actually what I was pleasantly surprised by is no one in the gym cared, it was not like that at all, everyone is actually like you, and they are all too busy focussed on their own workout.

Make sure you choose a gym that you really like. I looked around at a lot of the gyms in my area before deciding on the one I joined. Take advantage of the induction by the gym staff. Ask as many questions as you can, especially about any of the machines that you are not sure of. Even today, if there’s a new piece of equipment in the gym that I am not sure about, I will ask one of the staff who are only too happy to show me how it works. This enables me to make sure I get the best use out of it, and also prevent any injury from incorrect use.

Other members of the gym may be meaning well by offering advice. However in my experience most people have fallen into so many bad habits, it’s best to always seek professional advice from the gym staff.

For whatever reason, there is a stigma regarding women generally avoiding the weights section of the gym (although I am happy to see this is starting to shift in recent years). See combining weightlifting with cardiovascular exercise is important for general wellbeing and health.

As a functional chiropractor and osteopath, I think about the body moving in a realistic way. I believe any workout should be a rehearsal to practice movements that we would do in the real world. With weightlifting that means using free weights rather than machines. I am a very big fan of dumbbells as they allow natural movement patterns.

Once you get used to some basic exercises, start considering using different weights in each hand. See when you are picking up bags, they are never the same weight in both arms. By mimicking that movements in the gym will allow your body to get used to it, so not only will you be more efficient at moving that way, it will also considerably reduce your risk of any injury.

Another great tip is to create balance in your body using weights. When performing a pushing movement, also make sure you perform an equal and opposite pull movement.

A common mistake with weightlifters in the gym is they are performing the movements far too fast. This can increase the friction on the tendons, making it more prone to tendonitis or injury.

Our muscles have two types of fibres – fast twitch and slow twitch. It is important to strengthen both.

When contracting and lifting a weight, aim to perform that in 2 seconds or less.

Hold the weight at maximum contraction for 2 seconds.

Then lower the weight for 4 seconds.

This is the safest and most efficient method I have found to help grow stronger and healthier in the muscular system. It also reduces a stress response in your body, so you have less cortisol hormone produced, which in large amounts can be damaging.

How Healthy Are You?

Ever wonder how you can tell how healthy you are? Of course we all want to be healthier versions of ourselves. Some of us may compare what our health is like with our loved ones to see who is healthier than who.  But how can you really be sure?

It’s so much more complex than simply checking to see how far you can bend to reach your toes, being able to move without any discomfort or run a 100m sprint in a certain time.

Are these even the correct factors to be looking for when measuring health?

I have always strived to be as objective with my measurements as much as possible with my patients. Over the years I have consistently asked myself how I can measure how healthy my patients are. What I have found is it all comes down to adaptability – homeostasis.

I came to this conclusion by taking this idea to the extreme (it’s a strategy I commonly adopt to figure out most things). So I thought to myself “who is considered to be super healthy?” The best examples I came across were superheroes.

So let’s use Superman in this example. Superman could be in a really cold, freezing environment and he wouldn’t need to worry about whether he would freeze to death as his body is able to warm itself up enough avoiding any denaturing of his enzymes to allow the biochemical reactions to continue to take place.

At the same time Superman could also go into an extremely hot environment and be able to cool his body down, for the same reasons.

If you can adapt to your environment, whether you are in a hot or cold environment, the more adaptability you have, the more flexibility you have within your own system, which means you will be more healthy as you able to be in different environments safely.

This is the test I used to find the healthiest bed, the healthiest pillow, the healthiest chair, the healthiest diet, the healthiest anything.

It always comes down to this one thing… how much can you adapt?

Another example is if you haven’t drunk any water for some time, those who can go without water for longer as more healthy than those who cannot. Of course I am not talking about thriving here, this is pure survival in this water example as we take this concept to the extreme in order to understand what health is.

My advice is to ensure you are drinking enough water of course, as I want you to be living optimally.

I also would never compare my health to someone else’s, but I would compare my health in comparison to me. Going back to the example of being in a hot climate, if I don’t do well in those environments, I can take some time to gradually train myself to get used to the heat. Eventually I will be fine, as long as I have the ability to adapt, i.e. if I am healthy enough to. This means my body will need to learn to sweat more efficiently in order to cool it down and keep my core at the temperature for my enzymes to work at their optimum.

As an entrepreneur I may have to increase the hours I sit in meeting from 3 hours to 7 hours. By taking the measures that allow me to learn to be able to sit for longer, without causing any problems (not just pain), be able to adapt to my environment better, that will be a good indication of how healthy I am.

So check what you are doing, and see where you can make changes to make yourself a healthier version of you.

How To Breathe & It’s Effect On Your Health

It may seem strange to be posting content around how to breathe correctly and more effectively. Most people, although have been breathing all their lives, and not even give it much conscious thought as it takes care of itself. It sort of happens in the background rather than for us to consciously worry about breathing correctly.

But that’s the problem. Most of the people I see in at AVID Clinic are not breathing correctly. They have actually forgotten how to breathe correctly, and there are number of reasons why that is.

With quiet breathing we only should be using one muscle – the abdominal diaphragm. This muscle runs through about half way in your torso, separating your chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

When contracting your diaphragm, this muscle flattens and pushes your abdominal organs out, making your tummy stick out a bit. This creates negative pressure in the chest cavity, drawing are in from your environment into your lungs. That’s how we breathe in.

Most do not like the idea of appearing to have a large tummy, so tend to hold their tummy in. This means that they avoid contracting the diaphragm, so it stays relaxed as a dome.

To breathe, they elevate the upper ribs to create the negative pressure to breathe into the lungs. That’s normally ok if it’s been done for a short while. In fact that’s how we are meant to breathe when we exercise and are not “quiet breathing”. But breathing this way for too long can cause other problems.

The muscles required to elevate the upper ribs have another primary function – movement. Their secondary function is to assist in breathing. Breathing incorrectly means that these muscles are already pre fatigued, so when you go to move your neck or your arms, they are having to work extra hard, thereby increasing your risk of injury. The common complaint for patients that I see with neck and shoulder aches are “all I did was reach for… and ping the pain started”. This is the primary reason why this happens.

So working with me these patients retrain and learn to use the correct muscles to breathe properly.

Breathing this way also helps keen our organs healthy. See, the organs are not statis, like in diagrams or in models. They are very motile. For example when you eat food, your stomach enlarges to accommodate and pushes some of the other organs to make space. By breathing using your diaphragm, it enables those organs to be massaged and create flexibility to move better.

A lot of people who are constipated tend not to be breathing correctly. By breathing this way, their intestines get massaged, improved the movement and reducing their constipation.

Breathing correctly also can help relieve stress, and certainly can help you manage stressful situations in a better way.

The ratio to breathe is 1:4:2

Breathe in for 1, hold for 4, breathe out for 2.

In this example I can hold my breath for 20 seconds. So my rations are 5:20:10

Repeat this 10 times.

This enables your sympathetic nervous system, which works very hard during times of stress, goes does. And your parasympathetic nervous system elevates creating feelings of calm and relaxation.

You see, this is important if you are considering improving overall productivity. In a stressed state your IQ tends to reduce a little because you enter a fight or flight survival mode. All your blood gets shunted to your skeletal muscles to prepare you to fight the danger or “flight” run away from the danger. Doing this over a long period of time means there’s less blood to your brain, reducing your brain’s efficiency and function thereby reducing your IQ output.

Breathing this way helps you stay smart!