Apalla #31 - Fitness, Part 1

So, this episode marks our entry into fitness. Since health is a big subject all-together, we’ll skip talking about things like diet and sleep for now, and leave them to their own series. Instead, we’ll split this series up into weight training and cardio, which are the two main types of fitness, as well as stretching, which is an essential practice for both. So let’s go ahead and get started with weights!

Weight training, also known as strength training (since weights are essentially needed for strength -- metal weights, bodyweight, or otherwise) is the main programme to use if your focus is more on aesthetics -- things like strength (duh), muscle mass, fat loss, etc. Typically in weight training, we’re going to develop routines focusing on different muscle groups. For example, a bicep curl works the arms, whereas a fly delt works the chest. Different exercises can work multiple muscle groups, as well.

Typically what people do is dedicate different days to different muscle groups -- for example, having a chest day, an arm day, and a leg day, and rotating through them. The main reason to do it this way is mostly just to make sure that you aren’t stressing out all your muscles in one go. 

While on the topic, how do you make sure your muscles are growing, anyway? Well, a good heuristic is that muscles typically grow when they feel tired -- this is why most beginner fitness recommends just working out until failure, and not worrying about the number of reps. You obviously want to be careful with this, and not work your muscles until they get injured. A good strategy to use is to just stop when you feel unsure that you’ll be able to finish another full movement.

On your first trip to the gym, you’ll want to find a weight combo that has you putting in effort without flattening you immediately. The sweet spot is typically around when you can do ten reps relatively easily, but beyond that begins to add some difficulty. From there, you want to aim at increasing the weight by 2.5% every week. To keep this up, what I did was made a spreadsheet that calculated the information for me, rounding the results up to the nearest weight class that was actually at the gym (i.e. if you use this method you’re going to get weird numbers like 27.32… in that case, just use 30 pound weights!).

To end this episode off in true Apalla fashion, I’ll give you a weight-training hack. Just like in dieting, there is a move every once in awhile that seems to be an all in one favorite. As of right now, that move is definitely the kettlebell swing -- a two-handed swing manuever that works the entire body without too much strain, and is relatively quick to finish. Research has found that the sweet spot is 20-50 pounds, with 75-150 swings per set. If you get to the point where you can get in that range comfortably, it might be something worth trying! Check out this video for proper form on the kettlebell swing, and I’ll see you next week for cardio!