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  • Anaerobic day, which means weights and reps and sets to build lean muscle mass which in turn burns calories and firms and tones the body. Started with Inclined Bench Press today, moved to the rowing exercises, then the leg extensions and calf raises, then the bicep curls and shoulder raises. Moved from there over to the ab wheel and then to the exercise ball, and polished it off with ten minutes on the Gazelle with Enya again, then a walk in the back yard with about 16 ounces of fruit juice. Just got finished about ten minutes ago, actually.

    But it isn't just about the exercises. Yes, weight loss and health are admirable goals, but there's something more to it.

    First of all, fitness isn't something you do to get in shape and then slack off. Fitness is a daily component of a healthy lifestyle. When you accept it as a part of who you are, you begin to realize it was always there, in the back of your mind. Fitness is a part of you.

    You begin to approach your workout differently. You don't put it off to the last minute, hoping something will come up that will cause you to miss a day, and then another, and another. You look forward to it, look forward to the feeling of wellness and confidence you gain every time you complete a rep or a set or a workout. You look forward to the shower afterward, knowing how good the water will feel against your freshly worked skin and muscles. You catch yourself smiling as you look in the mirror to shave or fix your hair. Most of all, you look forward to the feeling you get when you have completed a workout routine, head out for the evening with friends or your significant other, and someone you haven't seen in while says “Wow, you are looking good”.

    You gain so much more than muscle mass when you exercise. You gain self respect.

    From the practical side of my brain: One of the key components of any workout with weights is form. When you are repetitively lifting weights, the movements at the end become harder than the ones in the beginning, and when that happens most people begin to lose form.

    Form is the position of the body while you are doing the exercise. Because the body is divided into separate muscles, not every movement will cause every muscle to work. So you have to do different exercises to develop different muscles. If you do them right, the right muscles get worked and you gain lean muscle mass (or size, if you are so inclined). If you do them wrong...not so much.

    As a matter of fact, performing any weightlifting exercise without knowing the proper form is one of the best ways I know to end up in the emergency room for anything from a sprain to a dislocation or something far worse.

    So my caveat of the day: If you are going to work out with weights, make sure you know what you are doing. There are dozens of magazines devoted to the subject, as well as library material. There are DVD's available on weight training, and there are personal trainers who will make sure you are performing the exercises properly.

    Whatever instructional method you choose, you will save yourself a world of hurt by learning how to properly lift weights.

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