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Friday, November 5, 2010

Can't believe this one

So me and Steve, our Director of Awesome
went to a commercial gym today. Why? We wanted to see what the competition is doing, check out the equipment, scope out the staff and see if they are any good, and see what is hot on the Group X schedule.
Gotta know what the other guys are doing.


Before I go on my rant, let me say the place was spotless, very nice, and the staff was very professional and friendly. They knew who we were and let us walk around anyway. That is why I'm not saying who it was. We even spoke with the Fitness Director who was awesome and friendly. She appears to be an asset to the club.
So with the disclaimer out of the way:  as we walk in there is a wall with photos of the training staff. Pretty standard right?
It was a bunch of fairly overfat looking people that apparently never exercised a day in their lives. Some of them were "skinny fat". This is coming from a fat guy. At least I look like I lift weights although I'll never be confused with a fitness guy.
I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but this book looked pretty BAD.
As we were looking around we saw one of the "skinny fat" trainers talking to one of the gym members. The gym member pointed to the leg extension and asked about using it.

Never use one of these, EVER!

The "trainer" asked her if her knee still hurt form the surgery. The member said yes.
What does the "trainer" say when she was asked if this machine was OKto use considering the knee was in pain?
I shit you not, she said "Load it up" and walked away. Steve and I almost puked. I wanted to scream at her.
I didn't.

We then walked around and looked like two mongoloids using a few of the machines. I had no idea how to use them. People were looking at us like we were morons.
At one point I said to Steve "I was voted one of the 20 best trainers in the country and I have no idea how to use this stuff".
We made a quick exit after thanking them for letting us in.
What is the moral of the story?
Beware of "trainers" in a lot of gyms. There are a lot of good ones out there. There are also a lot of really bad ones that make the rest of us look bad.

 The other moral of the story is that Steve and I could never work at a Globo Gym because we have no idea how the machines work.

 I guess that is good right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get a great workout at home.

Train at home. 

 Are you someone who trains at home, or maybe don’t have time to get to the gym, yet still want to get in a quick workout? 
What if I told you that you can get a full body workout in your driveway or basement with a piece of equipment that costs about $12? 
Sand bag training. 
 Take an old gym bag, or an army duffle bag, and fill it with 100-250 pounds of sand. 
 Putting the sand in a few trash bags inside the duffle bad and taping them up will keep the sand from turning your basement into Miami Beach. 
 Start a little lighter, it’s easy to add sand if it’s too light.  You can get sand at most home centers for $3-5 per bag. 
Now to the workout. 
Wrestle the sand bag from the floor to your chest, and press it overhead.  Do this for 1-2 minutes and rest.  Then do another set. 
Next, hoist the bag up to one shoulder and then do a squat.  Drop the bag and lift it to the other shoulder.  Again, don’t count reps, go for 1-2 minutes. 
Last, lift the bag to the chest, bear-hug it, and run, walk, or job around for 1-3 minutes, rest 1-2 minutes, and go again. 
 Add a set of each in once a week.  You’ll feel this in muscles you didn’t know you had!

The sandbag’s odd shape and instability make it perfect for a full body workout, and to stress muscles that won’t normally get a workout. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 birds with one stone.

  People are always looking for ways to make exercises more productive or quicker.  This  crunch variation will hit two areas that are frequently neglected, or not worked hard enough, abs and grip.  We all know why working abs are important, but grip is a mystery to many.  Having a strong grip helps in many sports from golf to football to rock climbing, and everything in between.  We are going to attack these two areas at the same time. 
To do this we will do what is called a gripper crunch.  Two pieces of equipment are needed, a Swiss ball, and a hand gripper.  The gripper should be a captains of crush variety ( 

COC’s come in 5 levels of difficulty, trainer, 1, 2, 3, and 4.  we suggest you start with a trainer.  The sporting goods store grippers will not be nearly as effective as COC’s, but if it’s all you have, use them.
To do the exercise, lie on a Swiss ball as if you were going to do a traditional ball crunch.  Take your gripper and squeeze it closed, now keep it squeezed as hard as you can and begin performing crunches.  Switch hands with the gripper after a few reps and go again.  Do the same amount on both sides.  We suggest 3 sets of 20 to start, performing 5 reps of crunches with one hand, switching grippers, do another 5, switch hands, and repeat.  Most people won’t be able to keep the gripper squeezed for too long, so we advise switching hands.

These are much harder than they sound.  You will feel a very strong abdominal contraction because of what is called radiational tension. Radiational tension is caused by squeezing your hands as hard as you can, which allows you to contract other muscles harder. Give it a try, you’ll see.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More bench press tips

Bench improvement. How do I increase my bench? If I had a dollar for every time…nevermind. Here’s a great way to increase your bench, or any lift for that matter. Speed is power, we all know that. We need to move weights quickly, with perfect form, in order to move more weight. This is proven by the ‘all or none’ law in science. The ‘all or none’ law states that a muscle fiber contracts 100% or not at all. This means that only the minimum amount of muscle fibers will fire to move a given amount of weight. So what you say? So, in order to move a given weight more efficiently, or lift more weight, you need to stimulate more muscle fibers to fire. This is done by moving the weight faster. If you move “x” amount of weight at 5 mph, you activate “y” amount of fibers. To move the same amount of weight, you need to move it faster to activate more muscle fibers. This holds true when trying to lift more weight. You need to apply more power against the weight, which means you need to apply more speed. Remember to apply the speed with perfect form. Never sacrifice technique for weight or speed.

Vincent DiZenzo benching an assload of weight at TPS.
How does this relate to a bigger bench? Simple, apply maximum force against the weight, and you will move more weight.
Set up for your bench, lower the weight quickly, but under control (don’t bounce it off of your chest) and drive it back up as fast as you can. This will recruit a maximum amount of tension in the muscles and a maximum amount of muscle fibers to move the weight. This translates into a bigger bench!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another post form

More great fitness stuff form

The big question I’ve been getting is, “Are you miserable?”
When people hear that you’re doing “the low-carb thing”, they freak. They think it’s a death sentence--a punishing course of dry, bland foods lacking any sweetness or flavor. And I guess I’d have that impression too if I were doing a traditional low-carb diet. But that’s the beauty of carb cycling. Just when I’m about to cave in to the boredom and step over my own mother for a pizza, I get to carb up again.
Mentally, it’s been an easy rotation to adjust to. On the very-low carb days, I eat one or two pieces of fruit in the morning, and/or some oatmeal, or drink a shake. I like the Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer. The rest of the day it’s protein, veggies, and healthy fats. On the moderate carb days, I’ll do the same for breakfast and typically have another piece of fruit or a sweet potato for lunch. The sweet potato/yam has been a friend to bodybuilders forever. It’s a starchy carb, but for reasons no one seems to fully understand, it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes and fat gain. Some guys will eat seven or eight of these things a day as their only carb source, and they stay ripped year round.
VegaOn my high-carb Saturdays, I’m eating oatmeal, fruit, and sweet potatoes until I hit 300 grams. So really, it’s not that bad. I can’t say I’ve felt deprived or light-headed or hungry at any point so far. If I had to give the average person (presuming he/she does some resistance training) advice on how to eat to control body fat and build muscle, it would be to follow this basic strategy.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, protein is important for muscle maintenance and growth. Old-school muscleheads say you need 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight a day, especially when dieting. The ADA recommends something like 0.6 to 0.8 grams. Most trainers and nutritionists I know split the difference and say to eat 1 gram per pound. That’s what I’ve been doing. The physique pictures I’ve shot along the way, and my post-shower posedowns in the mirror, indicate that I haven’t lost much if any muscle size. Plus, my lifts keep increasing, so I don’t see any reason to change my dosage.
As for my protein sources, there are no surprises here: skinless chicken breasts, tuna, eggs, salmon, whey protein powder, Vega, and nuts.
If you’re cutting out carbs and have to eat a certain amount of protein, it makes sense that you should be able to go to town on your fat consumption, assuming it doesn’t jack your total calories for the day up over your limit. Quite honestly, life on this kind of diet would be unbearable if you couldn’t, so thank God for that. Consider then, what this means.
You can eat peanut butter, mayonnaise (lighter versions preferably), nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados. I’ve been on a guacamole kick lately, mashing up two avocados with a fork and adding some lime juice and sea salt. You can embellish with other ingredients from there but that’s a great, quick side dish to go with some grilled chicken or fish. I also can’t say enough about almond butter. I’ve come to look forward to measuring out a couple tablespoons every night. It’s my “dessert”, and it’s pretty damn satisfying.
I’ve replaced a lot of my carbs with fat, and I feel it works fine as an energy food. I’ve been eating nuts, adding olive oil to salads, and preparing tuna fish with Vegenaise, a fantastic mayo substitute that uses grapeseed oil, a healthy polyunsaturated fat. Could I eat regular mayo? As I mentioned above, yes. In small amounts. But I feel like when you’ve only got 12 weeks to get in shape, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance and just keep the menu as “clean” as possible.
This might be a good time to mention what’s on my censored list.
Red meat
[[NOTE: I’ve since changed my tune on saturated fats and red meat. Still, I think if you want the best results in the shortest time, you may want to minimize these foods wen dieting. If nothing else, they do pack a lot of calories, and calories add up quickly when you’re dieting.]]
Fat is ok. Unsaturated fat. I’ve gotten as many as 170 grams on a low-carb day with no apparent ill effects. But saturated fat is risky business on a diet. For one thing, we all know that too much is bad for the heart and circulatory system. But there is a powerful amount of anecdotal evidence that it leads to more body fat, especially in the presence of starchy carbs. I’ve even heard reports that it interferes with the brain’s ability to register fullness--and that’s a problem you really can’t deal with when on a diet. One notable exception to my avoidance of saturated fat is coconut oil. The fat here is indeed saturated, but it’s made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and these have been shown to digest easily and are burned for energy. Brendan Brazier, author of The Thrive Diet, and the man behind the Vega supplement line, is a big believer in coconut oil, and he doesn’t carry an ounce of body fat.
Buster Simcus, the world’s fattest man
It should go without saying that I’m not eating any junk food. Sure, we’ve done stories in the magazine about how pizza and beer can have health benefits, but no one not named Gomer or Cletus could really believe these are acceptable diet foods. Could I get away with a burger once a week or a shot of Patron on a Saturday night? Probably. But I decided when I started this thing that I was only going to eat foods that brought me closer to my goal, not ones that could hold me back from it. I’m in the zone and I haven’t cheated once, and I don’t really feel the need to.
If someone put a platter of nachos in front of me and convinced me I could eat them without consequences, I’d enjoy them like a condemned man does his last cigarette before the firing squad. I’d eat the plate and the table underneath it (and, in fact, this is my plan to break the fast when the program ends next month). But for now, it’s not really on my mind.
For the record, I lost three to five pounds per week for the first six weeks (eating 3,000 calories). The weight loss stopped last week, so I reduced the calories to 2,500, and that’s yielded another five-pound loss. I’ve taken my waistline down three inches as well (I’m down to 37 inches now).
Total weight loss: 25 pounds.

fat, diet, and pounds

Squat better and bigger right now

Squat safer.
Many people say squats are bad for the knees, but when done properly, nothing could be further from the truth. When squatting, knees should remain in line with the feet, and should not pass over your toes.
A lot of people have trouble with their knees turning inward while squatting, this is dangerous because it can lead to MCL strain and improper patella tracking. Keeping the knees in line with the feet is an easy fix, we need to activate the abductors (muscles out the thighs on the side) to stabilize the knee.
But how?
Spread the floor!
Get into your squat stance, and imagine there is a small rug or towel under your feet.
You want to spread the rug apart with your feet during the whole rep. Spreading the floor activates the abductors, and also allows the hip flexors (psoas) to contract harder.
By doing this, you are ensuring knee stability and health, and increasing muscle activation (psoas, abductors).