Fitness

Warrior girl Carina Marx: Life Lessons Learned

There are three words to describe Carina Marx: pretty, modest and pleasant. But throw some obstacles, mud and challenges at this pretty girl and she instantly transforms into a real Warrior girl. Carina has been consistently ranked as one of South Africa’s top performing Obstacle Course Race (OCR) athletes since she started competing in the sport. Carina shared the life lessons she has learned through OCR with PhysEQFiT:

     By Carina Marx

     OCR Elite Athlete

OCR, Obstacle Course Racing, has been a booming sport in the USA and Europe for the last decade. In fact more competitors crossed the OCR finish line last year in the USA than marathon and half marathon competitors combined! We are going on to the 4th year of OCR’s in South Africa and its growing in its popularity by the day drawing thousands of competitors at each event and series of events such as The Warrior, The Impi Challenge, The Grind, The Beast and Battle Rush races. OCR mainly consists of trail running and obstacles. The obstacles themselves can consist of climbing nets, crawling through mud, jumping into water from high platforms, tyre flipping and intricate rope climbs to name but a few. They are based on what the navy seals use to train on.

 Before you say, “Oh no! I would never be able to do that! “, I would like to invite you to come and experience the fun and camaraderie at one of the events. It is not only a physical challenge for yourself, but it will also challenge you mentally. It will return the self-belief and confidence you lost along the way in the relatively mundane existence we follow daily. You are guaranteed to walk away with a new spark for life after an OCR race. I guess that is what made me so addicted to this sport.

 There were a few life lessons I have learned through OCR. The first was a reminder to live again. My first event was that of Rookie race (Rookie race, is a category in the Jeep Warrior race with the shortest distance) with some of my work colleagues. I ended up smiling from ear to ear with a certain sense of achievement. This was a good way to start and I got hooked. For once I felt alive again!

 Another major life lesson was to believe in myself. I struggled with a very low self-esteem and hardly had any confidence in myself throughout life. OCR changed that for me. These days I can overcome obstacles that I could only dream of. It became visible in my daily life and I came to realize that very little is impossible.

 

OCR has taught me what a healthy and sustainable lifestyle can be. You cannot afford to starve yourself when you train for this type of sport. I still managed to lose 10 kilograms in 18 months, albeit in a healthy way. All the running in my training is a big contribution to weight loss, but I changed my way of eating too. My sports nutritionist, Karlien Duvenhage, is the best. She taught me how to enjoy a balanced diet and still having energy for my 2 to 3 training sessions a day and to lose weight gradually. Lesson learnt: Stop beating yourself up for cheating now and then. It is okay, but don’t overdo it! That is the key!

 After being involved in Obstacle Racing for 3 years, I have learnt to always strive going forward. The only time you look back is to remind yourself how far you have come. Once again it is a great metaphor to describe how I live my life. I believe in growing and moving in a positive direction. Use the failures as learning curves, so you don’t repeat your mistakes.

 

The last, but most important life lesson I have learnt from OCR was that I had to face my weaknesses and accept myself for who I am. That was probably the hardest thing to do. But since I started facing it I decided to make the best of what God has given me. I had no excuses. I had all my limbs and great health, what was there to stop me? Absolutely nothing! Initially I was too heavy and far from being a runner, but I had a dream to compete alongside the top Black ops Elite ladies (Black ops Elite, is the category for experienced athletes who have to complete all the obstacles unassisted over the longest distance) and today I am living that dream!

Often you are your own biggest obstacle, because ultimately you make your own choices in life. So be careful and make wise decisions. You might be missing out on life and a lot of the pleasures it has to offer. Live with no regrets!

Mass-building for your Shoulders

By Quintin Steyn

Fitness Model and Advocate, Facebook: Quintin Fitness

Quintin shoulders

Most of us men want that V-shaped torso; the iconic Superman or Batman effect that just demands presence and dominance if you will. But, as individuals, we must acknowledge the fact that we all don’t build muscle the same way and especially not at the same rate. It is truly important to figure out what works for your body, what doesn’t and especially know your limits.

When training shoulders, I personally start with light to medium weights before raging into heavier weights. It is important to warm up your muscles before you intend on training them, as this will prevent any unnecessary and unwanted injuries in the future. As a first and foremost rule, I will yet again stress on the importance of correct form and posture while doing any form of exercises. Especially with regards to training your shoulders! Here most of your training consists of “over-head” exercises which requires stability and technique in order to prevent serious long term injury or discomfort. If you lose your stability in an “over-head” exercise it can cause injury in a second which can set you back for months if not years depending on the severity of the injury. It remains good practice to rather err on the safe side and concentrate on the actual “burn” and training of the focused muscle group rather than just going heavy in order to build bigger muscles.

I would suggest when training shoulders to start with a stabilized exercise, in order to get your shoulders warmed up before your “hard-core” session. A good stabilized exercise would be the Machine Shoulder Press – here you are able to start on a light weight, work yourself up whilst maintaining proper form / posture. Next, you can move to bar and dumbbell exercises to start with your main workout. I’ve used this method of training from the beginning and so I have brought it down to a few leading workouts that will help you reach your goal. Remember to start with a decent manageable weight and move heavier from there, but when you notice you are compromising your form, rather go a bit lighter and increase your repetitions.

  1. Warm up:
  • Machine shoulder press 4 x 15 reps
  1. Training:
  • Dumbbell shoulder press 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Arnold Dumbbell Press 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Bent-over Rear-delt raise 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Front-barbell raise 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Lateral raises 12, 10, 10 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Reverse Machine fly 4 x 15 reps (rest 2 min)

These are just a few of many shoulder exercises, but certainly the ones I find extremely effective. As I said, it is important to know your limits. It is perfectly normal to struggle in the beginning; this just leaves you more room to improve in the future. Try these exercises for 4-8 weeks and see what works for you and where you can add more focus.

A proper workout for your arms

By Quintin Steyn

Fitness Model and Advocate, Facebook: Quintin Fitness

When mentioning arm workouts and effective results, the most common debate arising is that of: “go hard, fast and repeat”. This is surely not the best or ideal regime to follow if you truly strife for quality muscle gain. As it is surely impossible to achieve muscle growth instantaneously, you can surely see noticeable results in a short while, bearing in mind that exercise strategies are crucial to effective results.

It is important always to note that a muscle group should never be trained repetitively daily. While you train you effectively break down muscle fibres and in return your body rebuilds those torn fibres. Simply stated, this process allows you to gain muscle as you recover. It is critical never to “over-train” and always to give a minimum of 48 hours of rest before training that specific muscle group again. By doing so, you allow your body to rebuild those broken down fibres. If you re-train, you end up breaking down the muscle again and as a result you end up going backwards.

When it comes to “proper” training of your arms, it is always important to remember that your triceps makes out roughly 2/3 of your upper arm muscle. – This however is important to note if you strive to have broad, aesthetically appealing, boulder-bashing upper arms. Don’t assume to under train your biceps, ever! – Always remember that having a well developed arm from all angles is much more aesthetically appealing that an unbalanced arm.

When training arms it is, in my view, never about how “heavy you can go bro”. Often people can lift heavy weights, accompanied with horrible form, and still after a month see no change and question the mere reason they even try to go to the gym in the first place. For men, go for a decent weight; one you can effectively do 15 reps of and go higher from there without compromising on your form. Most women strive to tone their upper arms and with that, a lighter weight and high repetitions will tighten up and not further enlarge your upper arms.

The best advice I can give is training in 4 sets. In all aspects in gym, this is my main mantra I live by. Always respect the basic exercises; they have been successful for decades! Start with your first set of 12 reps, followed by 10 reps, another 10 reps, then lastly a “final-and-heavy” 8 reps. Want peaked biceps? I recommend seated dumbbell curls, followed by hammer curls (palms facing each other) and a final blast with barbell curls. Always, always keep a proper form! – Keep your back straight and tight and never swing with the weight, you will use your momentum to lift the weight rather than actually letting your muscle do the job. Swinging your weight will lead to zero results and you will develop bed posture throughout time.

Tricep explosion! Do tricep extensions, both with the rope and the bar followed by some “dips”. Also do some tricep “kick-backs”, concentrating on turning your wrist inwards as you push the dumbbell out. – That’s how you get that horseshoe effect on your triceps.

As I said before; a proper arm workout does not consist of attacking your muscle with brutality and heavy weights. Strive for effective burning, slowly progressing and never compromise on your form! And always remember if you ever feel serious pain or exhaustion during a workout; don’t “fight through it.” Instead, stop immediately and go consult a physician. So…let’s go do a proper arm workout!

Quintin Steyn