We caught up with Akash Kedare, a national-level gymnast, and strength and conditioning coach, to share his experience on the basics of exercising and doing it right! He shared some pro-tips and tricks about the mind, the joints of the body, the importance of breath, and the required water intake, from his rich experience spanning over a decade.
This knowledge is the foundation of how to live an active life and exercise without injury!
Avoid injury with the right stability and alignment
To avoid injuries, we need stability and alignment. The hip and shoulder have the same anatomy – a ball and socket joint. Rotation is the key component when you’re exercising. When the limb is in front of the body, it’s called flection – the joints rotate externally to create stability. Let’s talk about some specific exercises.
Push-Ups – when we do push-ups, we want to create stability around the shoulders. When you’re aiming for external rotation, make sure to keep the elbows tucked in towards the body. Follow this rule while doing any pushing exercise – push-up, a 100kg bench press, or pushing a car – this is how we create a stable joint. This stability is crucial to avoid injury and generate maximum force. The mind is active and the body is aware of what’s going on.
Squats – when you push the knees out it creates an external rotation at the hips and thus leads to stability. When you dip and push the knee out, keep the elbows inwards.
Lunges – In lunges, one leg is in front of the body and the other is behind the body. It’s a knee out and knee in action – the internal rotation on the back leg creates a stable joint. This exercise can be done with a lot of variations, with weights or jumps, but the technique of the rotation stays constant. Just keep this tip in mind and you can multiply the intensity.
Create stability in joints through proper rotation and understand the anatomy if you’re doing a flection or extension – that is the key to avoiding injury.
How to simplify workout moves for beginners
Any exercise can either be scaled up or down. For instance, in push-ups, you can start by keeping the body inclined as beginners might find it difficult to handle their body weight. The inclined body will have less weight on the arms but ensure the right form (elbows tucked in). While doing squats, the best way to scale down is to reduce the range. So instead of taking full dips, you can reduce the range and gradually start progressing. Changing the angle, changing the range of motion is the key when you want to scale the intensity down or up.
Mindfulness/concentration during the exercise
The body and mind work in co-ordination, as one unit. When you work out, do not let your mind wander – thinking about work, life, etc. Be focused, as the body has to be focused on adapting to the to exercise. Organizing and doing a warm-up helps enhance co-ordination. If your mind is somewhere else while you exercise, the chances of injury are much higher.
Basic techniques for breathing while you exercise
Co-ordination is not going to work unless you control your breathing effectively. I like this quote “Breath is the king of the mind”. Your mind is the supercomputer controlling the body, so if you want to master the mind, learn to focus on your breath. Your focus on form is not good enough if you do not support it with effective breathing. I’ll break it down for the readers to understand, taking the example of a squat –
Each exercise has a tri-phase. There is no movement in the world without these 3 phases:
Concentric phase | Breathe out – the muscle shortening phase. Squatting is the shortening of the muscle and that’s how we generate the force.
Eccentric phase | Breathe In – the lengthening of the muscle. When we dip in a squat, the muscle (hamstrings and quads) lengthens there.
Static phase | Hold the breath – the isometric phase. Isometric means to hold.
- While performing any exercise under heavy load, for repetitions ranging between 1 to 5 – always inhale before starting the exercise and not during because we want our spine to be locked and stable. Breathing during the movement, with heavy load on the spine, can cause the spine to lose some stability. So for heavy load exercises with fewer repetitions, avoid breathing during the movement.
- During cardio, which includes exercises such as running or cycling, you can’t inhale and exhale in short intervals as per the tri- phase model, here you have to maintain a continuous and steady breathing pattern.
Water intake while you exercise
There is no specific rule when it comes to water intake. If your throat is dry, have muscle cramps, or are feeling dizzy – that’s an indication of dehydration. And if you feel heavy and bubbly in your stomach, that means you’ve had too much water. Another important point to ponder over is not just about drinking water but absorbing it into your body as well. Maintaining appropriate salt levels in the body is crucial for absorbing water.
Tips on how to take care of the spine
The spine is key. It has three parts – the neck, thoracic and lumbar, and they all must be aligned during any type of movement. When you’re aligned, it gives you good movement and force.
Pro tip – Squeeze your glutes while standing up to align the lumbar, keep your rib cage in sync with your pelvis to keep the thoracic spine aligned, and ears and shoulders can help keep the entire spine aligned.
There are a bunch of simple exercises you can start in the comfort of your home! So how about gifting yourself good health and fitness this holiday season?
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