New to exercise? Try the Farmer’s Walk for simple strength training


The Farmer’s Walk mimics your everyday movement, just like carrying grocery bags. — AFP

Many of us urbanites hold gym memberships or find other ways to exercise, yet you’ll be surprised to hear that millions have never tried lifting weights – not even the lightest of dumbbells.

Despite all the literature out there on the benefits of strength training to tone muscles, increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the unaware just don’t think it is necessary.

Most people tend to associate exercise with cardiorespiratory training, and they can’t be blamed.

Unsurprisingly, the main reason fitness beginners embark on an exercise programme is to lose weight, or because they’ve had a health scare that requires a change in lifestyle, meaning they have to incorporate some physical activity.

And they think the kilos will come off easily by walking or jogging.

Well, yes, they may lose some weight, but cardio workouts will inhibit muscle gain and tone.

Pretty soon, they will hit a plateau and see no changes despite ramping up their cardiovascular activity.

Performing the same repetitive workouts with no challenge will result in burning fewer calories from the same exercise regime over time as your body adjusts and becomes more efficient at performing the workout.

As humans, it’s only natural to become less motivated and give up on something when you don’t see results.

This is the main reason why exercisers fall off the bandwagon – we’ve all been conditioned to be result-oriented.

When strength training is advised, this bunch is usually sceptical about it.

This is as, one, it takes more effort.

Two, it will leave your muscles achy for up to three days (due to delayed onset muscle soreness).

And three (for the women), they think they’ll bulk up and look unfeminine.

When beginners attempt to lift, they often find it difficult to keep proper form and alignment.

That’s because over the years, our bodies have adapted to regular habits and routines of being sedentary.

So trying to reverse a posture or shape to address the muscle imbalances is going to take time.

Besides, relearning something in a different manner is always more difficult than learning something new.

However, the reality is that weight- or strength-training novices will actually see progression much quicker than someone who regularly strength-trains.

Yes, beginners only need to work at a low intensity to see gains because their muscles have just been introduced to strength training, i.e. these muscles are primed and ready to adapt quickly to the new stimuli.

Research shows that the average beginner using weights to strength-train tacks on about four to seven pounds (1.81 to 3.18 kilogrammes) of extra muscle over their first three months of lifting, while burning up to 12-24% of body fat over a year.

For newbies, I always recommend starting off with a simple move called the Farmer’s Walk – it’s a functional exercise akin to carrying your grocery bags.

Find an appropriate pair of weights, hold them with a firm grip on each hand (the weight must be equal), engage your abdominal muscles and start walking for a designated distance or time.

The most important safety aspect of the Farmer’s Walk is to keep a neutral or straight spine throughout the movement to avoid injury.

This whole-body exercise hits most of the major muscle groups while providing an excellent cardiovascular stimulus – it may sound easy, but it is not!

So go on, pick up some light weights and try being a farmer for a minute or two.

As the muscles throughout your body strengthen, your balance, coordination and positioning awareness all improve as well.

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Exercise , workout , strength training

   

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