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Shape up for summer with free men’s health clinic

09 June 2016

With forecasters predicting one of the hottest summers in the UK for 40 years, millions of men up and down the country are hitting the gym and lifting weights for a final pre-summer fitness push. New findings released earlier today by Sport England show that 2.5 million men  are using gyms to keep in shape, but according to physio experts at HCA Healthcare UK, misleading information and basic fitness mistakes are preventing men from seeing their desired results and leaving them susceptible to muscle tears and chronic joint pain.  

To coincide with Men’s Health Week, HCA Healthcare UK is holding a free myth-busting clinic on Tuesday 14 June at its new Outpatients & Diagnostic Centre at the Shard. The evening is designed to clear up confusing and outdated fitness myths – such as the overstated benefits of heavy cardio workouts to lose weight – and set men on the right path to gym success. As Uzo Ehiogu, Head of Physiotherapy at The Shard Outpatients and Diagnostic Centre, explains: 

“With record-breaking heat predicted this summer we expect many men will be looking to get into shape at the gym through training with weights and cardio workouts. One of the many mistakes I see men making at this time is assuming that excessive cardio will equate to weight loss. We want to move men away from the idea that cardio will burn the most calories and show them the many benefits that resistance weight training can have.  

“There are number of benefits of resistance weight training – and it is great for losing weight because of the impact that strengthening your muscles has on your metabolic rate. As your muscles get stronger the proportion of lean muscle tissues to fat tissues increases raising your metabolic rate, meaning that you will burn more calories when resting – ideal for those looking to relax in the sun after their hard work in the gym.”

However, as Uzo warns, there can be risks involved when embarking on a new weight training programme. “Inevitably, if you’re not used to a form of exercise and you take it up without proper instruction, you could be putting yourself at risk of injury. We’re holding this evening so that men at all levels of fitness can learn to use resistance weights in an effective and safe way.”

Uzo’s top tips for resistance weight training:

Warm-ups fuel your workout

Many men see a warm-up as a waste of time and believe that going straight into training will maximise their workout time. However, warming-up has several physiological benefits, which can increase performance and reduce the risk of injury. For example, it allows time for adequate blood flow to reach your working muscles, meaning more nutrients and oxygen will reach them to fuel your workout. It also enables muscle temperatures to rise gradually, which reduces the risk of injury and increases the effectiveness of your workout. Failure to warm-up can lead to muscle strains and pulls.

Technique trumps kilos

As you get into a resistance weight training plan, it is tempting to focus on the increasing amount of weight you are lifting. However, technique should always come first. It is dangerous to add weights to a movement or exercise that cannot be performed with impeccable technique and adding weight will only make your technique worse. This is a common mistake and is often the cause of traumatic injuries involving the chest area, lower back, shoulder, hip and knee. For example it is not uncommon to see traumatic tears of the pectoral and biceps muscles when lifting excessive loads, or to develop pattela femoral joint pain when squatting or lunging with load. It is better to work on your flexibility, mobility and movement pattern with a physiotherapist or expert trainer before moving onto heavy weights. 

Avoid over-exercising – don’t be afraid to put your feet up!

Don’t get trapped into thinking that the more sessions you do the better – rest and recovery is an essential part of the training process. With weight training, it’s better to think of quality than quantity. Inadequate recovery affects performance and can cause fatigue. It is a good idea to keep a training diary to record details of all your sessions, the amount of sleep you are getting and which days you are taking as rest days.  This will allow systematic planning of recovery days and recovery weeks to improve your performance. Tendon-related injuries are commonly associated with over-exercising. These are very difficult to management and can develop into chronic complaints such as tennis elbow or rotator cuff tendinopathy – a cause of shoulder pain. 

Weight training also improves men’s self-confidence – and with this year’s Men’s Health Week focusing on mental health, this is something that Uzo is also keen to emphasise:

“Sports activity in general can do a lot to improve people’s mental health and weight training is particularly beneficial for men’s confidence and self-esteem. Research suggests that even a modest amount of weight training – such as 20-30 minute workouts three times a week – can boost your self-esteem as you improve your physical abilities.”

HCA Healthcare UK will be running a Free Myth Busting Men's Health Evening at its Outpatient Physiotherapy at The Shard on 14 June. For more information or to register your attendance, sign-up here: https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/hca-mensheath-week-special-get-beach-body-ready-without-breaking-your-back