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Pain for physical gain is a myth

By Reggie Palma

LAST UPDATED: 02:01 a.m. HST, Sep 21, 2010

There is a common myth that a workout isn't effective unless you feel sore the next day.

Depending on your goal and athletic level, an experienced fitness professional can design a program accomplishing what you want with the least amount of soreness and pain possible through "stacking" exercises that complement each other. You might feel discomfort, but there really should be no sign of pain or injury.

No matter what your state of conditioning, a workout or practice session should never leave you nonfunctional the next day. If it does, then the activity was too intense, and you need to follow a program that builds you up toward the strenuous activity.

In other words, you need to get in shape for it. Remember, the process of conditioning takes time. You cannot rush the body into transforming from a fat-marbled, sedentary state into a lean, fat-burning, four-hour marathoner overnight. In fact, you cannot hope to do it in a few months. Realistically, taking the scenario just given, the process could take about 18 months with proper planning.

Let's say you are a person who has already developed the habit of walking for 30 minutes at a brisk, hard-to-talk pace and are looking to tone up those muscles now that your body fat has dropped a few percentage points. Here is a great circuit that "stacks" muscle groups in synergy to stimulate a change rather than encourage an injury. Perform each exercise for 40 to 75 seconds, and then move on to the next.

» Chair squats: Stand up and sit down from a chair. This targets the lower body and will get your blood flowing globally to all the skeletal muscles.

» Rubber-tubing biceps curls: This targets the upper body and will give your legs a chance to rest.

» Standard crunch: Mind your neck and focus on your bellybutton. Think of this as your rest before we ask the body to work again.

» Push-up (knee or standard): Make sure all the major muscles from the above three exercises are activated to ensure a full-body experience.

» Repeat: Repeat the circuit two to four times. You know you are finished when you start hurting in places the exercises do not target -- the neck, upper shoulders, lower back and knees.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. See his website fitnessatyourdoorhawaii.com.

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