Think you know about Fitness and Health? Test your Knowledge!

Here’s another opportunity to test your knowledge about health, fitness & exercise…

Question 1 – If you reach out to catch a ball thrown at you, which muscle should activate fractionally before any of the others? a. Deltoid (shoulder muscle) b. Transverse Abdominus (deep core muscle) c. Latissimus Dorsi (back muscle) d. Rectus abdominus (superficial core muscle)

Question 2 – To reshape your body, you should focus on: a. Weight training only b. Aerobic workouts only c. Mostly aerobic workouts with a moderate amount of weight training d. Mostly weight training sessions with a moderate amount of aerobic exercise

Question 3 – The correct sequence for training your abdominals is: a. Upper, lower, obliques b. Obliques, lower, upper c. Obliques, upper, lower d. Lower, obliques, upper

Question 4 –To lose weight fast, you should avoid: a. Carbohydrates b. Fats c. Proteins d. None of the food groups

Question 5 – If you want to start lifting heavy weights but are keen to protect your back, you should: a. Wear a weight belt b. Strengthen your legs c. Strengthen your core d. Use a spotter (someone to assist you whilst)

Question 6 – The most important part of a workout is: a. Warm up b. Stretching c. Cool down d. Main component

And the answers are…

Question 1 Answer: b – Transversus Abdominis This is the inner most of all your core muscles. It has a number of functions, most notably to help stabilise your spine and protect your back, which it does in conjunction with a number of other muscles. Research has found that with any movement of the extremities, the TVA muscle fires fractionally before any other muscle, to help achieve spinal stabilisation and provide a stable & strong base of support for the limb to move, without exposing your spine to excessive pressures.

When the TVA does not function in sequence (i.e. first), this leaves the spine “naked” and prone to injury. This can be seen when bodybuilders, who use a weight belt to lift 300lbs in the gym, “put their back out” by lifting their gym bag out of the car. By wearing a weight belt, they have inhibited their TVA & “taught” it not to fire and provide natural stabilisation for their body when lifting heavy weights, so the muscle will likely use the same recruitment pattern (by not firing) when lifting even light weights without a belt –leaving them susceptible to injury.

Question 2 Answer: d – Mostly weight training sessions with a moderate amount of aerobic exercise

This is the best combination of exercise when it comes to reshaping your body – whether you want to lose weight, improve muscle definition, bulk up or simply look more “athletic”. Cardiovascular/aerobic exercise will help you lose weight by burning calories but you will find it hard to truly sculpt your body through running, cycling, rowing or swimming alone.

The best method for this is to perform resistance exercises - also known as weight training – combined with the right stretching routine. This helps improve muscle tone and strength and is the key to shaping your body. Only by challenging our muscles with resistance are we able to significantly alter their shape, size and resting tone.

Performing a selection of the right resistance & stretching exercises can also help correct postural imbalances, such as rounded shoulders, a “duck’s bottom”, forward head posture and can help rebalance your body so it looks aligned and toned. For women in particular, load bearing exercises are recommended to help prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone density and because of our genetic makeup and lower levels of testosterone, we are less likely to bulk up if we lift weights. It is still however, a good idea to perform a moderate amount of aerobic exercise to help burn those calories but more importantly to improve & maintain your cardiovascular fitness and keep your heart & lungs healthy.

Question 3 Answer: d - Lower, Obliques, Upper

Training the lower section of your abdominals requires greater support, stabilisation and co-ordination of the other core muscles, so these should be trained first to allow optimum recruitment of all the muscles. Second in line are the obliques, which again require support from the other core muscles but are typically stronger than the lower abdominals. Your upper abs should be trained last. These are often the strongest section of your abdominal musculature and so should be left till last, as they need the least support & coordination from the other muscles in your core.

Question 4 Answer: d – none of the food groups I would not recommend avoiding any food groups, even if you are desperate to lose weight quickly. To provide your body with the nutrition it needs to function effectively and optimally, I would recommend identifying your metabolic type. This will allow you to identify the foods & nutrients that you as an individual require. Once you start eating right for your type, you should find it can help with a whole host of things, including weight loss and niggling aches & pains. Our bodies are all unique, so a diet that works for one person is likely to be completely unsuccessful for another. Metabolic typing helps to identify the imbalances in your body and guides you through the maze of finding out what gives you the most energy, wellbeing and feelings of great health.

Question 5 Answer:c – Strengthen your core If you are going to start lifting heavy weights, you can do your body a huge favour by making sure your abdominals, back & other stabiliser muscles are strong enough to provide adequate stabilisation and balance for the exercises you’ll be performing. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so even though you think your pecs might be strong enough to bench press 220lbs, if your core isn’t strong enough to help stabilise your body, you will only succeed in injuring yourself if you try and lift this kind of weight without strengthening the stabiliser muscles at the same time. And, as I mentioned in question 1, if you think wearing a weight belt will help – it won’t. It will actually weaken your core & stabiliser muscles, as it’s doing their job for them so in the long run the imbalance in strength between your strong pecs and your weak supporting muscles is only going to get greater.

Question 6 Answer: All of them!

So this was a bit of a trick question. The truth is that all of these parts of your workout are important. The warm up is vital in ensuring your body is ready to perform the main component of your exercise and without it, you may not be as effective for the rest of your workout. It also helps to prevent injury and psychologically gets your brain ready for the workout that it’s about to perform, which helps with coordination and muscle activation.

Obviously the main component is important – without it, it wouldn’t really be a workout! Stretching is key, whether it’s part of your warm up & cool down or a specific part of your workout, designed to help correct imbalances or improve flexibility. Often because of the imbalances in our body, a specific exercise may require the antagonist (opposing muscle) to be stretched first in order to allow proper functioning of the muscle we’re trying to work. For example, if you have tight chest muscles because you do a lot of bench pressing, you may find that when you perform an exercise for your upper back, it helps to stretch out your chest first in order to improve the range of motion allowed by your tight chest muscles, which are opposing the action of something like a seated row. Similarly, the action of a muscle might need to be inhibited to allow another, weaker muscle the chance to perform the action. The stronger muscle will always be the muscle that performs an action so in order to work the weaker one, the stronger one should be inhibited first by stretching.

And, just like the warm up, the cool down is often ignored but is just as important for helping your heart rate, blood pressure & respiration rate to return to normal. This ensures that your muscles will have adequate circulation so there’ll be no blood pooling, which can help reduce the risk of dizziness, fainting and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Lea Woodward is a leading Health Coach and runs She is a C.H.E.K. Exercise, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, an Advanced Level Metabolic Typing Advisor and an NLP Practitioner. For more information visit

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