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First Steps Towards Optimum Fitness

Santiago Martín Pazos

Excellent physical fitness is the result of a lifestyle developed under optimal levels of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility.

With the “modern” fitness industry well into bloom, physical activity is now recognized as a means of preventing or treating obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and countless others ailments so common in our largely sedentary society.Excellent physical fitness is the result of a lifestyle developed under optimal levels of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility, as well as the maintenance of the ideal body weight. Anyone who aims to achieve this balance must engage in cardiovascular, endurance and flexibility exercises.

Here are some basic definitions:Cardiovascular (aerobic fitness)
The ability of the cardiorespiratory system (heart, lungs, blood vessels) to deliver the right supply of oxygen to the working muscles.

Muscular strength
The maximum amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert during a single contraction.

Muscular endurance
The number of repeated contractions a muscle or muscle group can perform against resistance without fatiguing.

A number of movements that can be accomplished at a joint (articulation).

Another simple thing to have in mind is our body composition: body fat / fat-free weight (muscles, bones, blood, organs etc.)

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Percent body fat represents the percentage of total body weight that is carried as fat.

The body-fat percentage of a fit individual should be 21 to 24% for women or 14 to 17% for men.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition is a very important part of health and fitness.


Significant gains in strength and endurance can be achieved with just two workouts per week: 10 exercises, all major muscle groups, 8 to 10 repetitions.

Stretching or working another body part between sets will facilitate recovery from a previous exercise without total inactivity.



Set Up
Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay face up on a bench. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing your feet. Your thumbs should be turned toward each other. The edges of the dumbbells should lightly touch the outside/middle of your chest. You can put your feet up on the bench if you find this more comfortable.

Push the dumbbells straight up until your arms are almost fully extended. The dumbbells should come close together in this top position (they should never clack at the top of the movement). Hitting the weights together no only takes some tension off your chest muscles but annoys others in the gym. If you are a clacker, work out at home!

After a pause, slowly lower the weights back to starting position.


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