Saturday, June 29, 2013

You're doing it wrong: Back Training

Its important to realize that the back muscles are the second-largest muscle group in the body. Training it hard is beneficial not only for your overall health but it also burns a lot of calories if you're looking to lose weight. Weather it be pulldowns, pullovers, or rows...it all works! Could you be focusing on exercises like pull ups that are harder and work better? Probably. Are you doing the back exercises with the right form? Not from what I've seen.

Features of doing back exercises wrong:

  1. Gripping the handles palms down.
  2. Using a wide grip exercises such as pulldowns and pull ups.
Benefits of putting your hands in the right position during back exercises:

  1. Palms up allows your bicep to be in the strongest position with more potential to work your back muscles harder. 
  2. Using a palms up close grip or parallel grip also allows you to have a greater range of motion, gain more flexibility, and more muscle stimulation.
You want to have your bicep muscles as strong as possible. As even when they are are in the strongest position, they still will never be able to keep up with the strength of the back muscles. With these tips, you can still do the back exercises with your palms facing away with a wide grip.  Now you'll just know what that does and what it doesn't do. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Leg Training, Squats Form and Technique

Hitting squats hard will help you add on loads of muscle to your whole body.  They also burn more calories than any other exercise so if your looking to lose fat fast, squats are the best exercise around!

There's a ton of so called experts out there that talk about whether or not to do full squats.  Full squats means that you go all the way down below parallel to the ground and half squats meaning stopping above parallel to the ground.  I personally have done squats all the way down below parallel and have worked up to some pretty heavy weight.  It does put torque on the knee which could be a really good thing to strengthen it or it could be a really bad thing if you have an injury or don't use perfect form.  You'll want to work in the range of motion you can without compensation.  If you don't have the flexibility to go all the way down, that's fine, just do what you can and build up to a greater range of motion.

Form and Technique:

Here's what you do, first wrap a towel around the bar to give a little cushion. Do not use the round pads that you find lying around the gym.  1) they're too squishy which leads to the barbell moving around and 2) those pads have serious germs!! When you put the bar on your back, flex your traps and pinch your shoulder blades together in order to create a ledge for the bar to rest on.  You don't want the bar on the back of your neck. Then grab the bar tightly with your hands just outside of shoulder width.  Lift the bar off the rack.

Now your stance should be shoulder width or slightly wider. Not crazy sumo style wide like I see some of you doing!  The feet should be pointing straight ahead or toes slightly out.  Your feet too should not be too far apart or toes pointed too far out because your joints don't line up and it puts a ton of stress on your ankles, knees, and hips.

With the bar held tightly against your traps, take a deep breath and hold it, slowly descend down.  How far you go is up to you, if your flexible enough and you can go down below parallel with out pain then do it.  If you can't, work in the range of motion that's pain free and you can build up your flexibility over time.  Smoothly slow the weight down when you get to the bottom position and make the transition controlled and keep the tension high on your muscles.  The smoother and slower you make the transitions the more muscles you'll get working.  No bouncing in the bottom position!  After you transition to the positive, power up controlling the weight and keeping everything flexed hard.

Try and keep the weight smoothly moving at all times.  You should try and do as many as you can without pausing at the top.  After about 10-15 reps you'll be breathing pretty hard and have to take a pause at the top, that's fine.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Boomer Training: Attitude, Intensity, and Focus

You may have seen a recent TV ad for a nutritional product that says "after the age of 40, you may lose 8% of muscle every 10 years." It comes to roughly .25lbs of muscle loss per year or more.  This muscle loss is the focus of Boomer Training.  There are certain types of exercises more so than others that you can do to build muscle faster and prevent you from losing it in the first place.  Muscle drives your metabolism, it allow you to do the activities you want, keeps your posture good, prevents falls or accidents and improves how your joints feel to name a few.

What I see people doing wrong is not focusing their fitness program to build as much muscle and strength as possible.   Don't worry...you're NOT going to get too much muscle!  Again every fitness program and modality works but there are certain things in the gym that don't build muscle in the most productive way.  They are cardio, functional training, core training, classes, yoga, spinning, and anything that isn't weight training.  All of these are great and they work, just not at building muscle and strength the weight training does. 

Those that are doing a weight training program for the most don't get the results they want because something is wrong with their system.  Features of doing your weight training wrong are:
  • No progression in any way 
  • Program schedule is lifting weights too often
  • Exercise selection isn't focused on the right exercises that give you the most results and bang for your buck.
Benefits of a weight training program when doing it right:
  • Making improvements in weight/reps or both every workout
  • Choosing a schedule such as Monday-Wednesday-Friday weight training to allow for adequate recovery between workouts
  • Choosing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, back rows, pull ups, bar dips, and shoulder presses.
These aren't all of the aspects of a proper program but its a start, if you want to see some additional tips to follow see 10 best workout rules.

One of the most impactful things people can do towards their results is a change in ATTITUDE.  What I mean by attitude is that you have to try harder than you did in the previous workout. For some people that may mean that you are gonna go all out to complete failure on every exercise. For others it may not be that your veins are popping out of your neck, face turning purple every time you work out, but it may mean you just want to try and do better than you did in the previous work out.  Attitude, intensity, 
and focusing on the right type of training would put you leaps and bounds over 90% of the people working out and put you on the path to making meaningful results with your health.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Training Dick Butkus

 Thirteen pounds Six ounces at birth, Butkus was literally born to play football. With his natural ability and genetics, he was able to dominate the game then and he'd even be more dominate today!  As you'll read, Butkus didn't really workout at all during his playing days, could you even imagine what he'd be like if he worked out?!  Here's some great insight on training Butkus from the inventor of Nautilus, Arthur Jones:

"Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears spent several days training under my supervision in Colorado, during the previously mentioned Colorado Experiment...and afterwards, trained in our Florida facility for a period of several weeks.

Dick had never previously done any sort of systematic exercise...during eight years of professional football, his exercise had consisted of running and football drills, with a few days practice of the bench-press prior to each year’s “strength test”. Yet, when I first started training him in the Summer of 1973, it was immediately obvious that Dick is a very strong man, far stronger than many men who have trained heavily and regularly for years.

Although I had no way to test his neurological efficiency, it is almost certain that it is far above average. But some his other “natural advantages” are obvious at a glance...(1) he is tall, but not too tall...(2)...for his height, he has a long torso and short legs...(3) his hips are wider than average. All of which bodily proportions offer enormous advantages for strength, because they improve some of the leverage factors.
Upon looking at him for the first time, I remarked...”If I was going to design a man to fill his slot in football, the result would be little if any different from the real Dick Butkus.”

20 Inch Cold Neck Measurement!
But he could have been better. A proper program of heavy exercise could have given him far better “fatty tissue to muscular mass” ratio...making him stronger, faster, and far less likely to suffer injury. And without changing his bodyweight. Even a few weeks of very hard but very brief training produced significant increases in his strength, enormously increased his flexibility, and helped his speed.


Less than a month ago, Dick signed a five year “no cut” contract with the Bears...but a few months earlier, the rumors were flying throughout the rather limited circle of professional football to the effect that he was through, physically unable to play. Football is a dangerous sport...Dick could be seriously injured in the next game, but when he reported to camp this summer, he was ready to play."