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MacDill pair team up to achieve bodybuilding success

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Chris Fields spots for workout partner Sean Barkley. The two team up three times a week and help each other build muscle and improve their health.

Photo by Nick Stubbs

Teamwork is not something most normally would associate with the sport of body building but for an iron-pumping duo of MacDill, teaming up is the only way to go when it comes to building a strong and healthy body.

Sean Barkley and Chris Fields, both of whom are J2s at U.S. Central Command, work out religiously at the base gym, where they do a range of training from cardio/aerobics to weight training. Neither competes but they go beyond the norm in that they concentrate on body strength and sculpting and based on their respective physiques, it appears they've come up with a good recipe for success. The two recently talked about the right and wrong way to approach a workout routine and offered some tips for achieving positive results.

Mr. Barkley, a former Airman, has been working out since 1993. Mr. Fields got serious in 1999. The two have been teaming up the past months, learning lessons from the other and developing techniques to assist each other. The pair even is working together on a piece of equipment they may bring to market that is designed to assist people who do not have the benefit of a workout partner.

"We're fortunate in that we can work together (because) having a partner is important," said Mr. Barkley. "It keeps you committed and dedicated."

Mr. Fields agrees. He said having someone to work with helps identify weaknesses and strengths, and is a good way to get into and stay on a regular workout schedule.

While each individual has different needs, both men feel they can identify common mistakes that under most circumstances lead to disappointment more often than success. They know, because both say they have made plenty of mistakes but have learned from them.

Overworking: Many people go overboard when they first start, said Mr. Fields. They work out every day in hopes of speeding up the process and developing muscle more quickly. Mr. Barkley said the strategy will backfire because the muscle develops during the rest cycle. In essence, the working of a muscle strains or slightly damages it and when rested it has time to heal and grow to meet the new workload imposed on it. Muscles worked before they have a chance to recuperate and grow, don't develop as quickly so working out more isn't necessarily better, he said.

Both spend three days a week at the gym, working an hour and fifteen minutes. Each workout focuses on a certain part of the body or muscle group, so the same muscles are not revisited too often.

Amount of weight: Lifting heavy weights builds strength and size while lighter weight more often builds muscle definition. Whatever the goal, Mr. Barkley advises going slowly to build over time. This gives the joints and bones time to grow rather than muscle outpacing them. Injuries are common in people who have quickly developing muscle but weak bones and joints to support the muscle.

Cardiopulmonary: Don't become an over muscled "gym rat." Lifting weights constantly without attention to the heart and lungs results in someone who is all show and no go, said Mr. Fields. Both give attention to endurance training, and while running is a good strategy, sports such as football, volleyball or basketball also are good. Each also spends their off days running or working "cardio." Mr. Fields has a jogging stroller and works out while taking the baby out for fresh air.

Diet: Mr. Fields is healthier on the inside, admits Mr. Barkley. He sticks to leaner meats and vegetables while Mr. Barkley likes his pizza. They both say it depends a bit on every individual's metabolism. Mr. Barkley said he burns up what he eats quickly so can get away with more. He concedes he has to work more on his diet and has learned a good deal from his partner about eating better. Both say some raw vegetables should be a part of every meal, as the enzymes help digestion. Enzymes are killed when food is cooked, they said.

Another important diet factor is liquids and there is no substitute for water. Tea or soda is not water and both say 120 ounces of water a day is the ticket.

Supplements: A controversial area of body building is supplements designed to assist or accelerate the process. There are so many it is impossible to go into all of them, but both men say research every product carefully and use in moderation. They can be helpful, but most are not FDA approved and care must be taken. Generally, supplements increase the body's ability to create natural substances, which means care must be taken to ensure the body does not become dependent on them.

Mr. Barkley recommends cycling off supplements to make sure they do not take over and begin to replace the body's natural chemical production and processes.

Identify your weakness: Calves, both agree, can be tough to develop for some people. For others forearms are a weak area. Identify you problem spots and give extra attention to them in your workout schedule.

Don't be discouraged if you find you can't become the Incredible Hulk, both agree.

Genetics plays a role and Mr. Barkley and Mr. Fields are good examples. While Mr. Barkley has a larger, muscled physique, Mr. Fields has a leaner, more athletic frame. You will find your ideal shape as your progress and there is no sense fighting what nature has given you, they say.

MacDill resources: Those on base have access to great equipment at the gym but also a resource few realize is available: training advice and monitoring by professionals. Free of charge, Heath and Wellness Center staffers can assess condition, measure body fat and make recommendations for improvements. They also can track your progress, making adjustments and offering encouragement as you go about achieving your fitness goals.

"That's a great asset and it's free," said Mr. Barkley. "All you have to do is make an appointment."




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