The Matthews Method
Looking for stronger, healthier abdominal muscles? Or perhaps you exercise regularly, but are becoming bored with your workout and are looking for something different. Perhaps this is the time to consider the Matthews Method. This exercise plan was originally developed by Gary Matthews, an Australian who began his fitness career as a trainer with the Royal Australian Air Force. Over the course of several decades, Matthews developed personal training plans and began to share them with the Air Force. Below are summaries of his main guidelines:
Don’t Train Beyond Your Limits
Your body has an exhaustion point – one should never exercise past this point. The effects of exercise – any exercise – will begin to show in reduced blood sugar levels after approximately 30 minutes. That is not to say that you should immediately stop at 30 minutes, but after such period additional strain is placed upon the body and increased recovery time is required after exercise. Hence, Matthews is advised to focus upon a high-intensity workout that lasts approximately 30 minutes and stimulates as many muscle fibers as possible during this time period.
Exercise Using Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is Gary’s term for gradually increasing the “load” of the workout. For instance, if one performs 3 sets of 20 repetitions of a given exercise with 50 pounds of resistance. Within a week or two the body will have adjusted to this ‘load’. Without increasing the workout – through increased sets, repetition or resistance – the body will no longer gain the same benefit from the workout. Once the workout can be performed with relative ease, one of these factors must be increased. However, he warns that under no circumstances should technique be sacrificed. Perfect technique is one item that must remain constant, as it is the greatest protection against injury.
Allow Your Body Recovery Time
This is the one area that most exercisers ignore – muscles require recovery time after a workout and by not permitting same, one allows a high risk of injury. Muscle mass requires more oxygen than other organs or organ groups to function properly. Realistically, the muscles will not obtain the required oxygen during the workout itself; there is simply too great a demand upon the body. Thus rest time is essential to appropriately oxygenating the muscles.
Utilize Multi-Joint Exercises
Rather than doing a series of exercises that focus upon one muscle or muscle group at a time, Matthews advocates exercising several muscle groups simultaneously for a more invigorating workout. This effort results in an intense, short-term workout, which should be completed before blood sugar levels drop too low. It is hard work but the results are quite rewarding.
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