In today’s society, we are very visually influenced, constantly bombarded by images of “beautiful” people that our media have deemed worthy of our attention. On top of this, when an actor gets shredded for a new movie, this can often be front page news, or the diet that caused an actress to lose 20 lbs will be reported with vigor. If this hasn’t at one time or other made you think you ought to improve an aspect of your physical appearance, then I would suggest you have an incredibly self confident personality.
It would be a sweeping generalisation to say that everyone exercises to look better naked, rather than for the long term health benefits, but certainly a large proportion of people who workout for the improved body image and for how that makes you look to others, particularly the opposite sex. Young guys who down mass gainers (protein shakes) to gain those few extra pounds of muscle, but which probably aren’t that good for you, are just an example of the “looks-over-health” attitude.
However, if you’re shooting for one outcome, why not achieve two, if you can? This is why I would suggest that making health your primary focus, rather than aesthetics: you will end up in a better position, with a body closer to what you may deem to be ideal and also with the health benefits that will keep you living a few years longer.
Here are 3 tips to achieve great improvements in health yet will also bring about the body enhancements you wish to attain:
1. Pay close attention to detoxification
There are lots of ways to detoxify. Having lot’s of fruit and vegetables in the diet is the easiest. Life does get in the way at times, so drinking a powdered greens drink every day is a great way of filling the gap. Zinc is another crucial element in detoxification which is low in most people. Zinc is particularly important in controlling the build up of oestrogen, so selecting a good zinc supplement can help.
The body will store excess toxins in the fat, and the more toxins you accumulate, the more fat your body will lay down to keep them from doing you harm. This means that if you can help the body detoxify safely on a day to day basis, you should lose excess fat, particularly around the mid section.
2. Train the scapula retractors more and the chest less
A big chest is something lots of men want. However, when trained too much, the pecs can shorten, causing internal rotation of the shoulders. This can cause problems with the neck, shoulders, and upper and lower back. By training the scapula retractors more (the muscles that pull the shoulder blades back), it has the opposite effect, of pulling the shoulders into a more externally rotated position, which lengthens the pectorals. This better shoulder position, and the lengthening of the pecs, means that when you do directly train them, through pressing and flys, they work over a larger range of motion so have to produce more force, and this improves the training effect. The end result being, you stand taller, your pecs look fuller when relaxed and your posture is better, therefore you should experience less pain.
3. Eat more fish
There are many disagreements about necessary levels of protein to build muscle. It is however generally accepted that the levels of protein you ingest has an effect on muscle maintenance and growth. Non vegetarians and non vegans tend to prioritise meat as their main protein source. Fish however, due to it’s high levels of Omega 3’s, is much less inflammatory than white and red meat. Go for small, oily fish (sardines, mackerel, anchovies and herring) as these have the highest levels of omega 3s and the lowest levels of heavy metal toxicity, compared to larger fish such as salmon, swordfish and tuna.
Training (and life) itself increases inflammation, which can negatively impact recovery and therefore muscle growth. Less inflammation should help with fat loss too. So replacing some of the meat you eat with fish can be hugely beneficial to your health and will certainly impact positively on your appearance.
Guest author, Dan Cossins, is a former international sprinter. An experienced personal trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, he has been helping people transform their health for over seven years, as well as coaching track and field athletes to many major championships, including the Olympics. Dan can be contacted at Well holistic therapies centre in Bath.