Bearing News

Students use weight training to reach fitness goals

For senior Joe Pulickal, having a chiseled, muscular body was always a dream he wished would come true. This year, he decided to make it happen.

As a senior, Pulickal had a lighter schedule compared to previous years, so he had more time to pursue his fitness goals. Currently, he is involved in a bodybuilding-style split routine. He trains every day, working out specific muscle groups on each trip to the gym in hopes of building a strong, muscular physique.

“I typically follow a set schedule for muscle groups. For example, Mondays are back and biceps, Tuesdays are legs and abs, Wednesdays are chest and triceps, and so on,” Pulickal said. “Normally I’ll go to the gym and run a mile to get warmed up, or walk at an incline for a cardio-intensive day.”

Pulickal describes his training regimen as a basic strength routine, and he intends to achieve a desirable combination of size and strength when he is finished with his training. An aesthetic physique, however, won’t be the only benefit he will earn when he finishes. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training, when performed safely and properly, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by strengthening bones, manage chronic conditions, and even improve thinking skills.

“Strength training is necessary. It can be done using weights, resistance bands and/or body weight,” said Amanda Barnes, a fitness instructor in Columbia with more than 20 years of experience. “It helps to develop strong bones (reducing the risk of osteoporosis), can help manage weight, can help to manage chronic health conditions (such as arthritis, obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes) and increasing lean muscle mass can help burn calories more efficiently.”

Senior Praise Tyler, who has been lifting weights since his freshman year, also follows a split routine. He, however, always maintains one simple rule in his every workout.

“I hit whatever isn’t sore; that’s pretty much what I do at the gym,” Tyler said. “If it’s not hurting, you gotta make it hurt; no pain, no gain.”

When it comes to his goals, Pulickal puts as much effort into his diet as he does in his workouts. He does whatever he can do to make sure his food intake is mostly high-quality nutrition that will only help him reach his goals quicker.

“Diet-wise, I’m very strict. I get all the necessary nutrients I need for a healthy adult. But besides just that, I’m currently in a bit of a caloric deficit. I eat about 1500-1700 calories a day, but also burn about 600-1000. Most of what I consume is protein. I stay low on carbs but also do what’s called carb cycling. So, on my low carb days, I eat about 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of weight that I am and I’ll eat foods with high fat. So, at the gym, my body uses fat as an energy source. On high carb days. I’ll eat low fat. So those days I usually eat maybe 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of weight that I am at that point. I drink around a gallon and a half of water a day to stay hydrated, too.”

While people like Pulickal and Tyler enjoy the benefits of resistance training as males, Barnes believes females can also benefit from resistance training in a way that doesn’t make them too muscular. Barnes says that many females seem to be driven away from weightlifting due to fears of growing too large, which simply isn’t a justified fear for most people in general.

“A myth that comes to mind is specific to females and strength training,” Barnes said. “Many women believe that if they perform strength training that they will ‘bulk up’ – this is false. My go-to response to this comment tends to be: ‘unless you are taking steroids or naturally have an incredibly high level of testosterone in your body, you aren’t going to bulk up.’”

For now, Pulickal and Tyler will continue to train with the hopes of becoming stronger, healthier and more aesthetic as each day passes. For Pulickal, that alone motivates him to fulfill his childhood dream.

“At least for now, I’m all into lifting and fitness because it’s been a goal to get shredded,” Pulickal said. “And every day, I’m getting closer to that goal.”

What do you do to stay fit?

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