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We can envision the landscape of body sculpting as comprising 6 fundamental components: 1) Basic Health 2) Warming up 3) Upper body 4) Lower body 5) Stretching 6) Rest and recovery Basic Health (diet, nutrition, fat burning, weight loss, cardio) The fundamentals of diet, nutrition, your weight, your resting heart rate and stamina all interact and combine to define your basic health. You can be quite healthy without achieving a high degree of physical fitness or athletic prowess and you can achieve a peak of athletic and muscular conditioning while harboring serious health problems or unhealthy habits that may lead to health problems. Your main tools in taking ownership of your health usually come down to what you eat, how much you eat, cardiovascular exercise, your general level of stress and the degree of enjoyment you experience in life. In what you eat, we must include the issue of nutritional supplements and drugs, remembering that less is often more in this context. Establish and affirm a solid foundation of basic good health to erect your body sculpting practices upon. Assess yourself and get help if you don't feel confident you have a reasonably healthy starting point to begin with. Start out slow, see how you feel, and adapt as you go. Listen to your body and push it, but not too hard and not too fast. Only your body itself can reliably guide you in body sculpting. Warming up Some recommend stretching as a good way to warm up but in my experience stretching with a "cold" body is a good way to pull a muscle and I prefer warming up with some moderate cardiovascular exercise. Get the blood pumping first, that's the quickest and safest way to warm up and get our bodies ready for some strenuous action. Then we can stretch or do whatever kind


of exercise we like. Walking briskly, riding a bicycle, jumping on a trampoline, anything that gets the heart pumping without wearing you out so much you need to rest and recover can serve as a good warm-up routine. Upper body There are many forms of resistance training to use for body sculpting from free weights to body weight exercises, good old-fashioned calisthenics, straps and bands, gymnastics, dance, and so on. The major muscle groups in the upper body include the back, chest, shoulders, abdominals, and arms. The classic compound weight training exercises are the deadlift, the squat, the benchpress, the shoulder press, the pullup and the chin up. These exercises work the greatest number of muscles in a single exercise. We also have exercise supersets, where we perform two or three exercises in sequence with little or no rest between them. Some of these superset combination exercises have proven very effective in building up specific muscle groups. The art of body sculpting involves doing the basics and then carefully assessing the need for spot training to achieve greater balance, add tone or mass to the weak areas, reduce overweight or overdeveloped areas, and strive for overall balance, symmetry and beauty according to personal taste, style, and natural strengths. Abdominal exercises abound, with and without equipment, though generally building the abdominal muscles up is much less challenging than burning the belly fat off that tends to conceal whatever underlying muscle development you may have achieved. Lower body The deadlift and the squat should be moved into this area yet they work many muscles in the upper body as well and are probably the two best weight-bearing exercises for targeting the entire body. There are several flavors of lunges to strengthen the legs, forward and backward leg curls with common equipment, standing and seated calf raises and even reverse calf raises to target the muscles that lift the toes upward. There are also machines to support both outward and inward resistance while pushing the knees laterally apart and bringing them together. There are lots of body weight exercises for the legs as well. Stretching I like to stretch after strength training or toward the end of the day to relax, unwind, release, and let go of the day's stresses. Stretching is wonderful for general health and wellbeing as well as flexibility. Stretching can also serve as an early warning system for strained muscles and other aches and pains that may be hiding out under the pressures of daily living. Stretching slowly and breathing deeply can significantly increase our body awareness and bring us into touch with things that are happening in our bodies we would likely otherwise overlook until they reached a greater acuteness or severity. Many times I can take apart an occasional, random pain just by stretching and kneading the area with my fingers or palms. Rest and recovery


Getting enough sleep is huge. I believe my own lapses of self-discipline more often take root in a lack of sleep than a failure of will and intention. When I'm sleepy and foggy I'm less focused and not really "myself" in terms of purposeful living. I'm more prone to drift through the day than to create the kind of day I want. I'm more likely to act unconsciously when I'm not well rested. The muscle building essential to body sculpting actually occurs when we rest and give our bodies time to recover from the strain of tearing them down that we subject them to when we exercise intensely. We really go the gym to beat ourselves up. Then we have to give ourselves plenty of time to build back up so that, in terms of our total body sculpting cycle, we build up more than we break down. We need to do this if we expect to see net gains in the form of increased muscle size.

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Body Sculpting