Jane’s Jungle Workout Part 1
By Paul Chek, HHP, NMT
Founder, C.H.E.K. Institute
If you ask any woman to describe the goals of her exercise program, she will certainly tell you such things as:
I want to lose fat!
I want to tone my butt and thighs
I want more energy
I want to feel better
I want to lose my pooch belly
In almost the same breath she tells you her goals, she will be sure to tell you she DOESN’T WANT TO GET BIG!
Tarzan would certainly never want to stop Jane from achieving any of these goals, yet females flock to the gym attempting to accomplish these objectives with a battle plan skewed by misconceptions.
To aid Jane of the modern jungle in achieving her goals, let’s look at each issue, the common misconceptions and a logical approach to its achievement. Unless your client has unusually large amounts of testosterone in her blood stream, the fear of getting big is unfounded! Competitive female body builders train approximately three hours a day and perform five to 10 sets per exercise in hopes of getting a fraction of the size their male counterparts achieve. Getting big muscles is no easy task for a female. If it were, it would have been Jane swinging from the vines and swimming with the alligators, not Tarzan!
To assist Jane of the modern jungle in achieving her goals, let us look at them individually:
1. I Want to Lose Fat
Most females feel that they must wear the seat out on an exercise bike or get a gold star for attendance in the aerobics studio to get the fat off, but it obviously doesn’t work that way! Initially, most people will have a slight or moderate change in body shape with aerobic exercise. In a relatively short time, their bodies adapt to the specific stress of a given exercise, becoming very efficient. The result is progressively fewer calories consumed per minute exercised. This is exactly why you so commonly see the same people on the same machines and in the same classes month after month and their body shape rarely ever changes.
It is no different with those that run for exercise; at any city park in the morning you can see hundreds of chubby runners pounding the pavement, many wondering why they can still hold a roll of quarters with their gluteal fold! Yes, some are skinny, and for three main reasons:
Distance running (aerobic exercise in general) stimulates the production of stress hormones called glucocorticoids (see Chek. P. “Program Design” Correspondence Course). Glucocorticoid hormones are catabolic–tissue destructive hormones.
Their action antagonizes the development of muscle mass and when any aerobic athlete’s protein and/or cholesterol (saturated fat) intake is too low for their needs, or by regular aerobic exercise stimulus the body is chronically exposed to glucocorticoids, gluconeogenesis occurs; you begin to breakdown and use your own muscle tissue in an attempt to maintain critical steroid hormone levels and blood sugar levels; your body thinks you are running from a lion!
Those running over 30 miles a week may reach the point where their energy expense is greater than their energy intake. This can result in a net loss of energy (via fat or protein as available) from the body, resulting in the typical gaunt look you see in more accomplished distance runners.
Properly coached or elite distance runners and aerobic athletes of most types use carefully planned periods of intense short bursts followed by carefully timed rest periods, called interval training. This type of training elevates metabolism in much the same way circuit weight training does. In fact, sprinting is nothing but short interval training and if the distance is short enough for explosive efforts and the rest intervals allow adequate recovery, you will often see athletes gain muscle mass and lose fat!
Incorporate resistance training into your program. Alternating aerobic exercise sessions with resistance training serves to shock the system, making it hard for the body to adapt. Using compound free-weight exercises such as the “Squat Push Press” (Fig. 1A and 1B) requires the body to not only activate many large muscles, but also to activate the stabilizer system to maintain the center of gravity over the base of support at all times. This means that there will virtually be hundreds of muscles on the job at once, all consuming calories!
Another significant benefit of resistance training is the increased post exercise metabolism; current research suggests high-intensity weight training can elevate metabolism for as long as 48 hours after a single workout. To appreciate that your body will continue to consume calories long after resistance training, consider that some of the leanest athletes in the world are sprinters, who despise even the thought of aerobic exercise!
2. I Want to Tone My Butt and Thighs
Although toning the butt and thighs is a universal desire among females, many equipment manufacturers are quick to mislead females into thinking their machines will strengthen and decrease the size of the butt. A classic example of this emotional hook can be seen in the ads showing a beautiful female with a near-perfect behind standing next to a stepper machine. Such suggestion has been effective for sales, although EMG activation of the gluteus maximus on such machines is minimal at best; I’ve tested it!
Additionally, the use of abductor, adductor, knee extension and hamstring curl machines provide such isolation that there is minimal caloric expenditure in comparison with more functional compound exercises for the legs. Plus there is an almost nonexistent carry over to function with the use of such machines; this is easily proven by simply asking anyone to attempt to match their Smith machine bench press or squat with an Olympic bar and dumbbells respectively.
To effectively re-shape the butt and thighs, the thigh must reach parallel or below parallel to the floor with exercises like squats, box step-ups and lunges (Fig. 2). This is because the gluteus maximus is a phasic muscle; a fast twitch dominant muscle with a very high activation threshold. To accomplish the goal of toning the butt and thighs, the “Multi-Directional Lunge” (Fig. 3A thru 3E) works excellently. This exercise not only requires activation of all the muscles around the hip joint (adductors, hamstrings, gluteus group, hip flexors and knee extensors) but is also phenomenal for general or sports conditioning.
Paul Chek, Corrective, Holistic Exercise Kinesiologist and certified Neuromuscular Therapist, is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute in Vista, California. A sought-after consultant to sporting organizations, his services have benefited numerous professional sports teams and athletes.
Paul has produced over 60 videos, 17 correspondence courses and is the author of several books, audio programs and articles. For more information on Paul’s recent book “How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy!” or his popular “Equal But Not The Same” correspondence course, or for any of Paul Chek’s other courses, videos and books, call 1-800-552-8789 or 760-477-2620 or visit on-line at www.chekinstitute.com. Feel free to request a catalog of CHEK Institute products.
Figure 1. Squat Push Press: Holding the dumbbells comfortably in front of you, descend into a squat. As you rise out of the squat position, simultaneously press the dumbbells over your head. The timing of the arms and legs should always be symmetrical so that the motion of arms and legs begins and ends together. When performing this exercise, it is not necessary to do a full squat. Just squat to the depth that you would if you were preparing to jump up two or three stairs at once.
Figure 2.: Thigh parallel to ground or better for optimal butt activation.
Figure 3. Multi-Directional Lunge: The Multi-Directional Lunge is performed to five positions on each leg; straight-ahead, 45° front lateral, 90° lateral, 45° backward and straight backward. The exerciser must always face the front. The trailing leg should be slightly unlocked but the quad muscles should be activated enough to stabilize the knee. When performing the 45° lunges, allow the trailing foot to pivot naturally to prevent excessive strain being placed on the medial (inner) knee. Always maintain good upright posture.