Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Best Workout Rules

Call me lazy and I'm most certainly impatient especially when it comes to my workouts. I get extremely frustrated if I'm not seeing marked improvement in strength, building muscle, losing fat, and the all important mirror test! The last thing we all want to do is waste our time working out for years without seeing results.  There are so many different workout programs out there I'm here to say that EVERYTHING WORKS. I'm not saying that everything works good, but they all work at doing something.  However, there are certain workout systems that give you better results in a shorter amount of time than others.

My goal is to teach you these principles of the best way to build muscle and improve conditioning, then you can apply it to your own workouts at the gym.

Here are the top 10 best workout rules:
  1. Workout 3 times per week on non-consecutive days for example: Mondays-Wednesday-Friday.
  2. Each workout should be done in a total body fashion training all of the major muscle groups starting with the largest muscles groups first.  For example: Legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, abdominal, calves.
  3. Choose basic exercises such as squats, standing overhead presses, bench press, barbell rows, pull ups, bar dips, dead lifts, barbell curls, one legged calf raises, and barbell wrist curls.
  4. Use 2 sets and rarely more than 3 sets per exercise.  Put your effort into the 2 sets the right way and you seldom want to do more!
  5. Follow 10 repetitions for upper body and 20 reps for lower body exercises.  Use these as a guide but never stop just because you reached the goal reps, continue the set until you can't do another rep.
  6. Perfect form is most important in any exercise. Move the weight slowly under full control with no momentum taking 2 seconds to lift the weight, 2 seconds to pause in the contracted position, and 4 seconds to lower the weight.
  7. Always do full range movements ensuring proper balanced development and flexibility. No half reps!
  8. Rest and recovery is extremely important. Training only stimulates muscle growth, resting and recuperating allows growth to actually happen.  Cardiovascular exercise is fine on the off days but no weight training!
  9. Keep a training log writing down each set and the weight/reps done.  Train hard and try to progress each workout in weight and/or repetitions. Whether its 1lb or 1 rep added, progression is the foundation of getting stronger.
  10. Listen to your body and take time off from your workouts.  2-3 times per year do not workout and rest completely for 10 days.  You'll return to the gym with renewed enthusiasm and you're body will feel great.
It's all about what you want to focus on with your health and fitness, use the above guidelines and apply them to your own program.  You may have heard the saying train smarter, not harder?  Another way that I look at it is train harder, not longer and unproductively, which is training smarter.  Use the above workout guidelines and let me know how your results are!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

10 best free weight exercises for building muscle and losing fat Butkus style

Butkus doing Shrugs with 405 lbs!
How do know what exercises to use for the best results from your workout?  Me personally, call me lazy but I want to use the least amount of exercises that will get me the best results in the fastest amount of time.  I'm very impatient and have tried every type of workouts and when it comes down to it, there are exercises that are far more productive than others.  Granted more productive almost always means harder and more painful but the trade off is you'll get more results in less time.

50 years ago Arthur Jones the founder of Nautilus and long time friend of Dick Butkus once said, "If you like an exercise, chances are your probably not doing it right" and there's nothing more true today.  In fact most of the things AJ said about training were so far ahead of there time but that's a whole other discussion. Now, what exercises are the best for getting fast results with building muscle and losing body fat? Think about the top 5 or 6 exercises that you absolutely hate, the ones most people are not good at, the ones that you never see anyone doing in the gym, and those would be the exact exercises you should be doing! They are the barbell squats, barbell rows, bench presses (incline or flat), pullovers, stiff-legged dead lifts, pull-ups, bar dips, straight barbell curls, standing overhead barbell presses.  A typical workout for maximum muscle building and losing fat could be arrange as follows:

  1. Squats - 1 set of 20
  2. Pullovers - 1 set of 20
  3. Squats - 1 set of 15 
  4. Pullovers - 1 set of 15
  5. Bench Presses - 1 set of 10 reps
  6. Barbell rows - 1 set of 15
  7. Bench Presses - 1 set of 8 reps 
  8. Parallel grip Pull ups - As Many as you can
  9. Standing Overhead Press - 1 set of 10
  10. Reverse grip pull ups - As many as you can
  11. Standing Overhead Press - 1 set of 8
  12. Stiff legged Dead lifts - 1 set of 15 reps
  13. Barbell Curls - 1 set of 10
  14. Parallel Dips - As many as you can
  15. Barbell Curls - 1 set of 8
  16. Parallel Dips - As many as you can
  17. Wrist curls - 1 set of 20
  18. Reverse wrist curls - 1 set of 20
Your body doesn't have any idea what the number on the side of the weight says, pick a weight that makes the goal reps extremely hard but never stop just because your reached your rep goal.  If you do more or less reps than the goal, just take note and make adjustments for your next workout.  Do each rep very slowly with no cheating, starting each rep smoothly and focusing on the area being worked.  It should take you about 2-3 seconds to lift the weight and 2-3 seconds to lower the weight. Each exercise is done to failure except for the squats and dead lifts.

To get the best cardiovascular conditioning during the workout, take only enough time between exercises to catch your breath and then move to the next exercise.  Periodically substitute exercises such as shrugs, incline chest presses, shoulder raises, and tricep extensions and you have program that can serve you well for years of great results.  A training program such as this may look basic but it's probably one of the most productive workouts for building muscle and cardiovascular conditioning anyone could do.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Best food to eat before and after workouts

Pre/Post Workout for DotFit, takes the guesswork out!

Let's face it, we need all the help we can to maximize our results in the gym.  One of the single most important meals is what you have before and right after a workout.  You want to make sure you fill up your gas tank properly before your workout and replenish your body with the right stuff post workout.  In this blog entry, I am going to review: What should you eat before and after your workout to achieve your goals faster and be healthy?  Is a protein shake the right nutrition?

Immediately following an intense workout, your body is most ready to rebuild, repair, and absorb nutrients.  This is called the "metabolic window" which lasts about 2 hours.  The first 30 minutes are really the most efficient at absorbing nutrients and then it goes down from there.  To take advantage of this window you want to have a processed food such as bar or shake because it absorbs fast.  If you were to have "real" food it might miss this 2hr window by the time it gets broken down and into the bloodstream. The shake or bar should be between 200-300 calories, 40-60 grams of carbs, 20-30 grams of protien, and 2-5 grams of fat.  A shake of just protein is not effective here because the lack of carbohydrates do not allow for the natural hormone response and quick energy replenishment. What you really looking for is a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio to maximize the natural hormones, recovery, and muscle building effects. 

I can't think of one workout that I've done in the last 10 years that I haven't had a pre/post meal replacement.  I recover better, build muscle, and lose fat faster as a result.  There a few companies out there that actually follow the science of pre/post workout nutrition so make sure and read the labels of all nutritional products you buy to make sure it has the right macro nutrient profiles.  The main products I use is from DotFit, EAS, and Metrx. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Starving Away Pounds: Science Behind New Fast Diet

What's the deal with the new diet fad in case you haven't heard of it, The Fast Diet "Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer"?  Does it really work?

In a nutshell here's how the diet works on "The Fast Diet', for 5 days a week you eat whatever you want and 2 days out of the week you eat no more that 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men each day.  Benefits promoted are numerous including lowered risks of most weight related health problems and you'll live longer.

Here's my take, whatever diet works for you in order to eat fewer calories is the diet you should follow. At the end of the day your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain your weight.  If you eat less calories than maintenance, you'll lose weight and if you eat more you'll gain weight.  In order to be healthy and live longer try and make most of your diet healthy and balanced.  If you need 2000 calories to maintain your weight and you eat 1500 calories a day of french fries you'll lose weight, you might not live that long but you'll still lose weight!  On the other hand if you eat 2500 calories a day of twigs and berries, you'll gain about 50lbs of fat in a year.  Even though the food was healthy, it's still more calories than you're burning and excess calories get converted to fat.

There have been many diets that I've followed and they all work to lose weight if your calories are lower than you need.  Try and find the best one that fits your lifestyle and fitness goals.  I see The Fast Diet as another tool to help you get to your weight loss target.  See the story below...

Starving Away Pounds: Science Behind New Fast Diet: ABCNEWS.COM - Latest diet craze in Britain urges fasting for two days and feasting for five.

The Break In workout to reduce muscle soreness

Butkus sizing up next to Patrick Willis
The dreaded muscle soreness when you start working out or after a layoff from training is something we all want to avoid.  If you haven't experienced the crippling muscle soreness, you haven't lived!  Did you ever notice that you're even more sore the 2nd day after a workout?  The break-in period is designed to eliminate that muscle soreness.  How it works is that you perform the same program for 5 days in a row and your soreness gets less and less each day.  Then when you really start to push it in the successive weeks you won't be sore even after giving your all during a workout.

The break-in period workout is 1 set of 10 reps of the exercises below for 5 days in a row for the first week.  For the second week do 2 sets of 10 reps for each exercise but workout on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Pick a weight that will allow you to perform the 10 reps with medium effort.  Even though you may be able to do more weight or reps, save that enthusiasm for honing your skills at lifting and starting your nutrition program.

Here's the exercises:
  1.  Barbell Squats
  2. Standing One Legged Calf Raise
  3. Standing Overhead Shoulder Press
  4. Pull Ups
  5. Parallel Dips
  6. Bicep Curls
  7. Stiff Legged Dead Lifts
  8. Wrist Curls
After completing the 2 week break in period, you should be able to workout harder than ever and you'll rarely get sore!