Fitness for You - Preparation


Before embarking on any course of fitness training it is essential to have a thorough medical check - particularly if you have any ongoing medical problems.
Blood pressure must be checked, along with blood sugar levels.
Before starting any exercise regime it is also nessercary to ensure that a suitable diet and 'life-style' is being followed.
Any issues with recreational drug use must be dealt with, along with the adoption of a health diet and a good, regular sleep pattern.

For information regarding drug use, diet and sleep see the post relating to 'Food and Nutrition'.

Once a regular pattern of healthy eating and good sleeping has been established it will then be time to consider finding a suitable venue for training.
To produce the lithe, lean, well-muscled and toned body that you desire you must undertake both aerobic and resistance training.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of relatively low intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.
Aerobic literally means "living in air", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.
Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.
Aerobic exercise and fitness can be contrasted with anaerobic exercise, of which strength training and short-distance running are the most salient examples.
The two types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle.
In most conditions, anaerobic exercise occurs simultaneously with aerobic exercises because the less efficient anaerobic metabolism must supplement the aerobic system due to energy demands that exceed the aerobic system's capacity.
What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed "solely aerobic", because it is designed to be low-intensity enough not to generate lactate via pyruvate fermentation, so that all carbohydrate is aerobically turned into energy.
Among the recognized benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise are:

Strengthening the muscles involved in respiration, to facilitate the flow of air in and out of the lungs
Strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate, known as aerobic conditioning
Strengthening muscles throughout the body
Improving circulation efficiency and reducing blood pressure
Increasing the total number of red blood cells in the body, facilitating transport of oxygen
Improved mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression
Reducing the risk for diabetes.
Burns body fat, while building leaner muscle.

DO NOT be tempted to start jogging or running mini-marathons.
Human beings are not designed for prolonged periods of running, which inevitably result in damage to various joints, - usually hip, knee and ankle, - and spinal problems.
The best possible form of aerobic exercise is swimming, which is very sparing on the joints, and if you are unable to swim, then this would be a good time to learn.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is a form of strength training in which each effort is performed against a specific opposing force generated by resistance (i.e. resistance to being pushed, squeezed, stretched or bent).
Exercises are isotonic if a body part is moving against the force.
Exercises are isometric if a body part is holding still against the force.
Resistance exercise is used to develop the strength and size of skeletal muscles.
Properly performed, resistance training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.
The goal of resistance training is to gradually and progressively overload the musculature system so it gets stronger.
Research shows that regular resistance training will strengthen and tone muscles and increase bone mass. Full range of motion is important in resistance training because muscle overload occurs only at the specific joint angles where the muscle is worked.

Your Aims

Perfection is not absolute - at least in terms of fitness.
You can undoubtedly achieve your perfect physique, but it will be unique to you, and related to your genetic endowment, age and current state of health - and in this you must be realistic.
However, increased health and fitness, plus a concomitant dramatic improvement in appearance can be achieved by anyone, regardless of age or disability if the basic advice regarding diet, nutrition and exercise is followed with care and dedication.

Yes - you too can look like this when you are sixty-five


Muscle (from Latin musculus, diminutive of mus "mouse") is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells.
Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell.
They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles.
Their function is to produce force and cause motion.
Muscles can cause either locomotion of the organism itself or movement of internal organs.
Cardiac and smooth muscle contraction occurs without conscious thought and is necessary for survival. Examples are the contraction of the heart and peristalsis which pushes food through the digestive system. Voluntary contraction of the skeletal muscles is used to move the body and can be finely controlled. Examples are movements of the eye, or gross movements like the quadriceps muscle of the thigh.

There are two broad types of voluntary muscle fibers: slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch fibers contract for long periods of time but with little force while fast twitch fibers contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue very rapidly.

Muscles are predominantly powered by the oxidation of fats and carbohydrates, but anaerobic chemical reactions are also used, particularly by fast twitch fibers.
These chemical reactions produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules which are used to power the movement of the myosin heads.
In training we are mainly interested in skeletal muscle.
Skeletal muscle or "voluntary muscle" is anchored by tendons (or by aponeuroses at a few places) to bone and is used to effect skeletal movement such as locomotion and in maintaining posture.
Though this postural control is generally maintained as an unconscious reflex, the muscles responsible react to conscious control like non-postural muscles.
An average adult male is made up of 42% of skeletal muscle, and an average adult female is made up of 36% (as a percentage of body mass).

Skeletal muscle is further divided into several subtypes:

Type I, slow oxidative, slow twitch, or "red" muscle is dense with capillaries and is rich in mitochondria and myoglobin, giving the muscle tissue its characteristic red color. It can carry more oxygen and sustain aerobic activity.

Type I muscle fiber are sometimes broken down into Type I and Type Ic categories, as a result of recent research.[4]

Type II, fast twitch muscle, has three major kinds that are, in order of increasing contractile speed:

Type IIa, which, like slow muscle, is aerobic, rich in mitochondria and capillaries and appears red.

Type IIx (also known as type IId), which is less dense in mitochondria and myoglobin.
This is the fastest muscle type in humans. It can contract more quickly and with a greater amount of force than oxidative muscle, but can sustain only short, anaerobic bursts of activity before muscle contraction becomes painful (often incorrectly attributed to a build-up of lactic acid).

Type IIb, which is anaerobic, glycolytic, "white" muscle that is even less dense in mitochondria and myoglobin.


The gross anatomy of a muscle is the most important indicator of its role in the body.
The action a muscle generates is determined by the origin and insertion locations.
The cross-sectional area of a muscle (rather than volume or length) determines the amount of force it can generate by defining the number of sarcomeres which can operate in parallel.
The amount of force applied to the external environment is determined by lever mechanics, specifically the ratio of in-lever to out-lever. For example, moving the insertion point of the biceps more distally on the radius (farther from the joint of rotation) would increase the force generated during flexion (and, as a result, the maximum weight lifted in this movement), but decrease the maximum speed of flexion.
Moving the insertion point proximally (closer to the joint of rotation) would result in decreased force but increased velocity.
This can be most easily seen by comparing the limb of a mole to a horse - in the former, the insertion point is positioned to maximize force (for digging), while in the latter, the insertion point is positioned to maximize speed (for running).
One particularly important aspect of gross anatomy of muscles is pennation or lack thereof.
In most muscles, all the fibers are oriented in the same direction, running in a line from the origin to the insertion.
In pennate muscles, the individual fibers are oriented at an angle relative to the line of action, attaching to the origin and insertion tendons at each end.
Because the contracting fibers are pulling at an angle to the overall action of the muscle, the change in length is smaller, but this same orientation allows for more fibers (thus more force) in a muscle of a given size. Pennate muscles are usually found where their length change is less important than maximum force, such as the rectus femoris.
There are approximately 639 skeletal muscles in the human body, however, the exact number is difficult to define because different sources group muscles differently and some muscles, such as palmaris longus, are variably present in humans.

Muscular Activity and Energy Consumption.

All muscle cells produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules which are used to power the movement of the myosin heads.
Muscles conserve energy in the form of creatine phosphate which is generated from ATP and can regenerate ATP when needed with creatine kinase.
Muscles also keep a storage form of glucose in the form of glycogen.
Glycogen can be rapidly converted to glucose when energy is required for sustained, powerful contractions. Within the voluntary skeletal muscles, the glucose molecule can be metabolized anaerobically in a process called glycolysis which produces two ATP and two lactic acid molecules in the process (note that in aerobic conditions, lactate is not formed; instead pyruvate is formed and transmitted through the citric acid cycle). Muscle cells also contain globules of fat, which are used for energy during aerobic exercise.
The aerobic energy systems take longer to produce the ATP and reach peak efficiency, and requires many more biochemical steps, but produces significantly more ATP than anaerobic glycolysis.
Cardiac muscle on the other hand, can readily consume any of the three macronutrients (protein, glucose and fat) aerobically without a 'warm up' period and always extracts the maximum ATP yield from any molecule involved.
The heart, liver and red blood cells will also consume lactic acid produced and excreted by skeletal muscles during exercise.


Gymnasia, health clubs and swimming pools are full of fat or flabby people desperately trying to lose weight.
Unfortunately Gym Organisations such as GLL Better actually encourage the deception that exercise makes you slim, (there is obviously a great financial incentive for them in propagating this blatant deception).

The Fallacy of Losing Weight By Aerobic Exercising

In a review of several hundred weight loss studies, Dr. Wayne Miller and colleagues at The George Washington University Medical Center set out to determine if adding aerobic exercise to a low-calorie diet accelerates weight loss.
What they found was that diet and aerobic exercise provides only a very marginal benefit (in terms of weight loss) when compared to diet alone.
A 2011 review that looked at 14 studies on aerobic exercise and weight loss also shows less than stellar results, concluding that the value of aerobic exercise as an “independent weight loss intervention for overweight and obese populations is limited.”
As part of the HERITAGE Family Study, one of the largest well-controlled training studies of its kind, researchers followed a large group of 557 men and women as they embarked on a 20-week exercise program.
Each subject was required to exercise three times per week for an average of 42 minutes. Researchers even went to the trouble of having each bout of exercise monitored by an exercise technician and a computer.
Following a grand total of 60 exercise sessions over a period of almost six months, the average amount of fat lost was slightly less than two pounds, prompting scientists to admit that aerobic exercise “is not a major factor” in weight loss.

What About Your Metabolic Rate?

One popular claim is that aerobic exercise leads to an increase in your metabolic rate, however, researchers conducting the HERITAGE Family Study found that almost six months of aerobic exercise had no effect on resting metabolic rate.
Some studies do show that athletes have a higher metabolic rate than weight-matched controls.
Recent research has concluded that this is a result of regular sessions of resistance training, like Tom does - that is training with low repetitions, no more that three sets for each exercise with relatively heavy weights - the opposite of aerobic training.
Furthermore, when an increase in physical activity results in a calorie deficit (which it’ll need to if you want to lose weight) there is research to show that the metabolic rate does not rise at all.
Another popular misconception is the idea that aerobic exercise increases caloric expenditure for several hours after a bout of exercise, thus making a further contribution to fat loss. Unfortunately this is not always the case.
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is the name given to the increase in calorie expenditure following a workout, is more likely to occur after high-intensity exercise.
As an example, an Appalachian State University research team found a large increase in EPOC after subjects cycled for 45 minutes at 85% maximum heart rate.
Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as walking or jogging) has very little effect.

Why Does Aerobic Exercise Not Reduce Weight ?

The most fundamental aspect of any fat loss program is to create a calorie deficit — to burn more calories than you eat, - unfortunately, you just don’t burn that many calories with a typical aerobic exercise program.
One pound of fat contains the equivalent of roughly 3,500 calories so, assuming your calorie intake remained static and your weight was stable, you’d need to burn an extra 500 calories per day to drop just one pound of fat over the course of a week.
To lose fat at a decent rate (around two pounds per week) you’d need to burn 1000 extra calories per day, and the type of workout that burns 1000 calories, in terms of both time and effort, is not a realistic goal for most people.
For aerobic exercise to be effective, you need to do a lot of it.
And that brings us to another problem.
Most modern exercise machines have digital readouts telling you how many calories you’ve burned. Unfortunately, these digital calorie readouts can’t be trusted.
The most reliable way to assess energy expenditure during exercise is to measure oxygen consumption.
Each liter of oxygen that you consume generates approximately five calories of energy.
For example, if you exercise for 30 minutes and consume 30 liters of oxygen, you’ll have burned 150 calories, but without directly measuring oxygen consumption, it’s difficult to get an accurate estimate of how many calories you’ve really burned.
Another factor that affects the reliability of calorie counters is the difference between net and gross calorie expenditure.
Gross energy expenditure refers to the number of calories you burn during exercise plus your metabolic rate.
Net energy expenditure refers to just the number of calories you burn during exercise.
Because calorie counters on some exercise machines display gross energy expenditure, the figures they give are misleading.
In one study, the gross number of calories burned during each workout was estimated to be 255 calories, but the net figure (remember, the net figure represents the “real” number of extra calories you’ve burned) was just 187 calories.
In other words, if you rely on the numbers given by the calorie counters, it might appear that you’ve burned more calories than you really have.

The Bottom Line

Although it comes as a surprise to many, the majority of research shows that aerobic exercise in the so-called “fat burning zone” is not a very effective way to lose fat.
That’s not to say that cardio is a waste of time, because it isn’t, but in most cases, 30 to 40 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio three or four times a week by itself isn’t going to deliver the results you want with regard to weight loss.
The main purpose of cardio-vascular (aerobic) exercise is, as the name implies, and improvement in the function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system.
And of course the right kind of exercise may even mean that your weight increases !
How ? Well, muscle weighs more than fat so - you may (you should) lose fat while at the same time you gain muscle, and therefore weight.
But you will look slimmer - in fact you will look great.
Throw away the scales and invest in a good quality, full length mirror. The mirror will 'tell' you if you are making the progress you long for - and your friends will tell you as well - if they are honest.
So - if you really want to lose weight you must reduce the quantity of calories you consume in the form of sugars and fats - see the section on Nutrition and Supplements.
In addition you can increase your metabolic rate by performing moderate to heavy resistance exercise.


Which is what you will be doing if you follow the advice in this blog.

Exercise is often recommended as a means of improving motor skills, fitness, muscle and bone strength, and joint function. Exercise has several effects upon muscles, connective tissue, bone, and the nerves that stimulate the muscles. One such effect is muscle hypertrophy, an increase in size.
Various exercises require a predominance of certain muscle fiber utilization over another.
Aerobic exercise involves long, low levels of exertion in which the muscles are used at well below their maximal contraction strength for long periods of time (the most classic example being the marathon). Aerobic events, which rely primarily on the aerobic (with oxygen) system, use a higher percentage of Type I (or slow-twitch) muscle fibers, consume a mixture of fat, protein and carbohydrates for energy, consume large amounts of oxygen and produce little lactic acid.
Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of higher intensity contractions at a much greater percentage of their maximum contraction strength
Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting and weight lifting.
The anaerobic energy delivery system uses predominantly Type II or fast-twitch muscle fibers, relies mainly on ATP or glucose for fuel, consumes relatively little oxygen, protein and fat, produces large amounts of lactic acid and can not be sustained for as long a period as aerobic exercise.
The presence of lactic acid has an inhibitory effect on ATP generation within the muscle; though not producing fatigue, it can inhibit or even stop performance if the intracellular concentration becomes too high. However, long-term training causes neovascularization within the muscle, increasing the ability to move waste products out of the muscles and maintain contraction.
Once moved out of muscles with high concentrations within the sarcomere, lactic acid can be used by other muscles or body tissues as a source of energy, or transported to the liver where it is converted back to pyruvate.
In addition to increasing the level of lactic acid, strenuous exercise causes the loss of potassium ions in muscle and causing an increase in potassium ion concentrations close to the muscle fibres, in the interstitium. Acidification by lactic acid may allow recovery of force so that acidosis may protect against fatigue rather than being a cause of fatigue.
Humans are genetically predisposed with a larger percentage of one type of muscle group over another.
An individual born with a greater percentage of Type I muscle fibers would theoretically be more suited to endurance events, such as triathlons, distance running, and long cycling events, whereas a human born with a greater percentage of Type II muscle fibers would be more likely to excel at anaerobic events such as a 200 meter dash, or weightlifting.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is pain or discomfort that may be felt one to three days after exercising and subsides generally within two to three days later.
Once thought to be caused by lactic acid buildup, a more recent theory is that it is caused by tiny tears in the muscle fibers caused by eccentric contraction, or unaccustomed training levels.

Density of Muscle Tissue

The density of mammalian skeletal muscle tissue is about 1.06 kg/liter.
This can be contrasted with the density of adipose tissue (fat), which is 0.9196 kg/liter.
This makes muscle tissue approximately 15% denser than fat tissue.


The level of fitness that you can achieve, and the general appearance of your physique after training and following a healthy nutritional regime will depend very much on your genetic make-up.
Most important will be your overall proportions - what is often referred to a bone structure.
Heavy boned individuals will find it easier to develop muscle, but may also find it easier to lay down fat.
Light boned individuals may have problems, especially initially with building muscle, but will find it much easier to maintain a healthy weight and develop 'definition'.

Definition is when the individual muscle groups become clearly defined, and this occurs because their is little adipose fat to 'blur' the separation between the various layers of muscle.
Body-builders seek definition, which they call being 'ripped', however they achieve this by severely cutting back the amount of liquid that they consume, and this results in them becoming severely dehydrated.
Dehydration is very unhealthy, and should be avoided at all cost.
Good levels of 'definition', however, can be achieved by a judicious balance between resistance and aerobic training, and by the intelligent use of supplements such as L-Carnitine, L -Argenine and Tribulus Terrestris.
Definition is an essential element of the perfect physique, and is referred to as 'toning'. 'Toned' muscles are by definition 'defined' !

Regardless of whether one is heavy or light boned, the most important aspect of the skeletal system is its overall proportions.
The most compelling definition of the perfection of proportions is the image known a 'Vitruvian Man'.

The Vitruvian Man was created by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.
It is accompanied by notes based on the work of the famed architect, Vitruvius. The image depicts a male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. This image is usually  reffered to as 'the Canon of Proportions'.
The image is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise 'De Architectura'.
Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture.
The proprtions are as follows:

a palm is four fingers
a foot is four palms
a cubit is six palms
four cubits make a man
a pace is four cubits
a man is 24 palms
the length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man
from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of the height of a man
from below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man
from above the chest to the top of the head is one-sixth of the height of a man
from above the chest to the hairline is one-seventh of the height of a man
the maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of the height of a man
from the breasts to the top of the head is a quarter of the height of a man
the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of the height of a man
the distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of the height of a man
the length of the hand is one-tenth of the height of a man
the root of the penis is at half the height of a man
the foot is one-seventh of the height of a man
from below the foot to below the knee is a quarter of the height of a man
from below the knee to the root of the penis is a quarter of the height of a man
the distances from the below the chin to the nose and the eyebrows and the hairline are equal to the ears and to one-third of the face

Why not get yourself photographed in the appropriate pose (two photos will be required) and check yourself out.
If you confirm to these proportions, and follow the correct training regime, you will, of course, find it much easier to achieve the 'body beautiful'. If you do not conform to these proportions don't worry too much - judicious training methods can make up for any little imperfections.


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Olympic Bodies for an Olympic Year - London 2012
The Olympic Year - London 2012

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