Try Athletic Workouts - Taking a Break from Bodybuilding

Athletic Style Workouts

Always Choose Variety with Fitness


 I'm sure some people will feel I am out of my element by writing about workouts under the dubious heading of "athletic" since I am best known for my ability to turn good genetics into great stage bodybuilders. Bodybuilding can do all of what I am going to cover this month, perhaps even more. The only difference between bodybuilding and other nonsport-specific athletic workouts is that one will build more muscle and the other will alleviate boredom. I know many people who have been working out for years and years in the gym, but who at one time or another took a full-fledged break from the weights, supplemented their workouts with other activities, or simply got out of the gym into the great outdoors.

I recommend that competitive bodybuilders take a break every couple of years. Stay completely out of the gym for six months, and engage in activities that you never considered doing when you were seriously training. That doesn't mean you won't come back to bodybuilding. You probably will return refreshed after a well-needed break. If you come back to the gym reluctant to give up your new activity, you can combine it with bodybuilding for a dynamic, truly athletic fitness routine. Extreme fitness is in these days, and getting fit in all those hard-to-reach places can sometimes be accomplished only by bringing other varied activities into the workout mix.

This variety is often just what is needed to quell the boredom of hardcore training. When you get to the point that you hate staring at those same four gym walls and would just as soon lie on the couch and skip your workout, why not venture out of the gym? The true benefit, beyond overcoming boredom, is that your body won't be accustomed to doing whatever new activity you choose, so it will respond in ways that it hasn't been able to in some time. If you're a bodybuilder, and you suddenly start horseback riding, fencing or snowboarding, you certainly are in for a shock. But isn't that what makes being physical productive and worthwhile? If you never made changes, you would have given up the gym a long time ago. By taking up a new sport - or at least the training regimen from another sport -you'll experience changes that will positively benefit your body.

Even though a change in venue and activity can be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy for just about anyone, it works best for those who aren't devoted solely to competing as bodybuilders. A nonbodybuilder is much more likely to take a break from traditional weight training and seek out other activities. However, I think everyone who competes should take at least three months off when he feels lackluster in the gym. When you come back to weight training, you'll be that much more ready to tackle your competitive physique goals.

You have two options to consider when contemplating a break from the gym. The first is engaging in workouts that aren't weight oriented but that support your goals as a body-builder. The other is to train for and participate in a completely different sport.

The former option is known as cross training. It indirectly applies to your bodybuilding objectives because it strengthens muscles that you may not be able to train directly. Whereas you might be unlikely to hop on an inner-thigh machine to work your sartorius tendons and create density between your thighs, you would probably not even pay attention to the f fact that you were working them while riding a horse. Walking a treadmill at high elevation may not be your idea of fun especially if it forces you to stare at the same wall day after day, but think of the challenge if you could get outside and climb a set of steps - two at at time - and overlook your entire city once you got to the top. Besides, doing the real thing always results in better development.

Talk with coaches of various sports which utilize the bodyparts you are most interested in developing. If your back lacks detail and development, you might consider joining a rowing club. Rowing across a lake every morning is sure to build your back in a way that you never imagined possible. Or look at dancers. Every ballerina or dancer has great calves. You think yours are stubborn because of a lack of genetics in that area, but that may not be the case at all. Dancers are up on their toes and pushing off the floor with the balls of their feet all day long. Repetition of movement in an activity not usually associated with bodybuilding can help build lagging bodyparts. If you're having trouble getting a particular bodypart to grow, try an activity that naturally builds it with practice and repetition.

The second option is to train for a new sport for the purpose of competing in it. As a personal trainer, I am familiar with several sports that either support bodybuilding or can keep you in great shape.

Running - quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, cardiovascular

Swimming - entire body (particularly upper body, hamstrings, glutes, cardiovascular)

Equestrian sports (horseback riding/ particularly English) - hamstrings, inner thighs, glutes, shoulders, light cardiovascular

Windsurfing - entire body, cardiovascular Surfing - legs, glutes, abdominals, shoulders, arms, cardiovascular

Rowing/crewing - back, shoulders, cardiovascular

Obstacle course -improves overall strength, limb strength, endurance, coordination, cardio

Tennis - quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, arms, shoulders, cardiovascular

Boxing - shoulders, arms, chest, back, abdominals, quads, cardiovascular

Cycling - legs, glutes, cardiovascular.

These are just a few examples of sports that will either support or temporarily replace bodybuilding and keep your muscles in shape - or improve them -while you benefit from a change of scenery.

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