Lunging into Leg Day

“Hump Day! T-Shirt.” SnorgTees, www.snorgtees.com/hump-day.

It’s HUMP DAY! Wednesdays aren’t usually people’s favorite day of the week, however it is my favorite because it means it’s leg day!

Let’s jump right in. I usually start with leg presses. I push myself to my limits. If your legs aren’t shaking by the time you finish, then you’re doing it wrong. I usually start off with a comfortable/light weight and do a rep of 8. Then I go up in weight. The amount you go up by depends on you, but just make sure it’s a gradual increase. Decrease the reps as the weight gets harder and harder to push. To reach your maximum PR (personal record), you can do the weight just one time, if it seems extremely heavy. Once you go as heavy as you can, decrease the weight by the same increment, and increase the reps. Personally, by the time I get back to the initial weight, I like to do at least 10 reps. But, if your legs seem close to breaking by then, you can do 8 instead. This exercise works on a variety of leg muscles, including your quads and glutes.

“Incline Leg Press Exercise Instructions and Video.” Weight Training Guide, 17 Jan. 2017, weighttraining.guide/exercises/incline-leg-press/.

 

(Fahmi)E, Muhammad, and Instructables. “Finding Nemo Boat!” Instructables.com, Instructables, 20 Sept. 2017, www.instructables.com/id/Finding-Nemo-Boat/.

Although this workout does work on your glutes (butt), it is still important to work out those muscles separately to get gains. This is where the infamous squat comes in. Squatting isolates the glute muscle, which aids its growth. It is a simple sit down, stand up motion, but proper technique is required to perform this exercise to get the best results. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and when you bend down your butt should be parallel or even lower than your knees. Also, your knees should not go too forward (beyond where your feet are). Your back needs to be straight and leaning over to prevent injuries.

Mehdi. “How to Squat with Proper Form: The Definitive Guide.” StrongLifts, 30 July 2017, stronglifts.com/squat/.

There are many ways to do a squat with or without weight. There are jumping squats, where every time you bend down you have to jump up. Or, you have your traditional squat which focuses solely on the form I mentioned above. However, when you use the squat rack, there are only two ways to perform it and it all depends on the placement of the bar. If you put the bar in front of you/on your upper chest and cross your arms to hold it in place, it is called a front squat. The front squat focuses more on the quads than glutes.

“Barbell Front Squat Exercise Instructions and Video.” Weight Training Guide, 11 Feb. 2017, weighttraining.guide/exercises/barbell-front-squat/.

On the other hand, if you put the bar behind your head (on your shoulders), then that is a back squat. Either way, any of these squats will produce results as long as you have good form. It is all up to what you preference and what feels comfortable.

Since, we want to touch on all of the main muscle groups during our leg day routine, we can’t leave out our calves. You can work on calves with any of these exercises, however there is one machine that I prefer to use to strain the muscle even more. It is the standing calf press. This machine puts the weight’s pressure on your shoulders and you have to push up the weight up by lifting your heels to stimulate the calf. There is a bar at the bottom, that you stand on. You should make sure that only the balls of your feet is on the bar, and your heels are hanging off; resting parallel or even below your toes. This is necessary in order to properly lift the weight with just your calf muscle.

“Machine Standing Calf Rise.” Weight Training Guide, weighttraining.guide/exercises/machine-standing-calf-raise/.

There are many other options to work on these same muscle groups, but these resemble my personal routine. Sometimes at the end, completing some cardio is a good idea to cool down and stretch the muscles to prevent cramps. Leg day is great, but the recovery days after are always dreaded. So, if you have trouble walking up and down stairs or just in general; don’t worry, it’s normal.

Back to Tricep-Tuesdays

Tuesdays are one of my favorite days because I find the workouts entertaining and challenging. Plus, Monday ended, so that’s always good. The two things on our menu for Tuesday is back and triceps. So, let’s eat!

“Back Anatomy Muscles Bodybuilding: Human Anatomy .” Jouefct.com, www.jouefct.com/back-anatomy-muscles-bodybuilding/.

Back

Upper

Your back muscles have two parts, the upper and lower sections. The upper back consists of your Trapezius (most of your upper back) and your Deltoids (back of shoulders). There are others of course, but these are the main focus in body building.

Lower

Your lower back has your Latissimus Dorsi (aka laterals), External Obliques, and other fancy muscle names which most people call “lower back”.

“DLAT-SF – Pro Dual Lat & Mid Row Machine – Body-Solid Fitness.” Body Solid, www.bodysolid.com/home/dlat-sf/pro_dual_lat___mid_row_machine.

It is important that we use exercises which emphasize each of these main muscle groups. I recommend from going from your upper back to your lower back when working out because your lower back works more in upper back movements than the other way around. So, here’s how I usually do it.

I start by using the lat pulldown machines because it tends to work a majority of your back muscles. This can be done either with the machine or with a bar on the cables. This exercise gives your back a good stretch since to do it properly you must fully extend your arms up, and bring the bar to your chest. The hand placement on the bar does make a difference, but for beginners I would do whatever feels the most comfortable. Hint: The farther out you go the harder it is because the more it focuses on just working the lateral muscle.

Then I move on to the cable row, which you also have the option of adding cardio into it or not. Many gyms have a rowing machine where you sit and move forward and back by bending your legs and pulling a resistance cable at the same time. However, i am not much of a cardio person, so I usually do the cable row. This action is simple, just sit far enough away where your legs are extended but still slightly bent, and pull the weight without moving your torso.

These are just a few suggestions, there are copious workouts of free weights, cables or machines you can do for your upper back, it’s all up to your preference. Now, this is where your regimen will start shifting to lower back.

To start I usually go for the infamous DEADLIFT! This lifting technique is pretty well-known, but there is an important proper method which must be used for maximum results.

http://www.ipcwrexham.co.uk/the-deadlift-develop-hulk-strength/

It is imperative that you keep a straight back throughout this lift because if you don’t it can result in serious injury, and you would have only worked your upper back again, and not your lower back.Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and they need to face forward. To complete the deadlift you must lift the weight until you are in a complete standing position, then you reverse the steps to put it back down. This motion strengths your lower back and glutes, and I find it fun as well.

I think we are forgetting a key component to the Tuesday workout…

TRICEPS

Since I have used a lot of cables and machines throughout my back workout, we’ll switch to free weights. There are many ways to stress the triceps with free weights but here’s my favorite.

“Alcohol Inks on Yupo.” Pinterest, 6 Apr. 2017, www.pinterest.com/pin/337488565813286342/.

You can do this either standing up or sitting down, as long as your back is straight. All that is needed to complete this movement is to put the weight behind your head and lift up and bring it back down.

“Alcohol Inks on Yupo.” Pinterest, 6 Apr. 2017, www.pinterest.com/pin/337488565813286342/.

Other free weight ideas are illustrated in this picture:

It is not necessary to complete all of these workouts in one session. However, it is a good idea to spread them throughout different times at the gym so you are constantly doing something new and exciting. Just wait until you see what’s in store for Humpday!

 

Monday pt.2 You Have the Right to “Bare Arms”

 

Monday AGAIN?!

Monday workouts come in two parts; chest and biceps. Now, that we reviewed the first part of this regimen, we’re onto the “guns”. It does not matter which part you do first, I usually switch between sets, to give my muscles a break. The biceps muscles are exercised in multiple weight lifting techniques, even some that you would not expect. However, it is imperative to use methods that isolate the muscle for it to grow exponentially.

There are copious exercises that could work, but here are a few of my favorite ones. Usually, I start with Bicep Preacher curl. These actually come from Arnold Schwarzeneggers’ workout. It consists of you leaning your arms over a tilted platform, while curling weights.

This can be done with a straight bar or with individual free weights. Either way, lifting by using this technique solely targets the bicep muscle. By extending your arms, it stretches the muscle. Then when you bring the weights to your chest, it contracts the muscle, causing it to rip and tear the muscle. When these tears heal it makes the muscle larger.

Other than these types of curls, there are various other forms you could do that so a similar job. Another one that was on Arnold’s regimen is the Concentration curls. These start on a diagonal angle, with a concept similar to the Preacher curls regarding the muscle movement. There are Reverse Barbell curls and Low-Pulley curls which are very similar in form. The both involve a vertical movement. The only difference between these positions is that the Reverse Barbell curl stresses the bicep muscle and a section of the forearm.

Whether you prefer pulleys or free weights both get the job done. You can choose to use one, or to practice both. I prefer to do both because it is important to vary your workouts. It increases your chances of continuing your exercises because it prevents you from getting bored. In addition, it also exercises different fibers and sections of the muscle. The free weights allow you to have a fluid motion. However, with this freedom, it allows for an increased chance of injuries. This is why performing with correct form while doing these methods is imperative. The pulley weights provide a more restricted movement, which makes it is hard lift incorrectly. This training technique is good for beginners, but it is also a sufficient advanced technique.

While completing these weight lifting movements, make an effort to utilize both heavy and light weight. For heavyweight days, make sure to restrict yourself to only an 8 rep maximum. This is so your muscles don’t tire out mid-workout. As you increase the weight, you should decrease the number of reps. If you are going for a new personal record, all you need is 1 or 2 reps of that weight. These reps should be done in a set of 4. This is to prevent injuries and muscle strain. If you were to lift lighter weights, this should be done in a high number of reps. It can be anywhere from 10-12 reps in sets of 4. As you slowly, increase the weight you must decrease the number of reps. If you were to decrease the weights during the sets, then you should increase the number of repetitions. This training regimen helps produce muscle mass and muscle definition. However, your results always depend on how much you effort you are willing to put in to molding your ideal body.

 

 

 

 

Monday pt. 1: “I just need to get this off my chest”

 

UGH MONDAY!

When it comes to working out, our week begins on Monday. Although, it is the most dreaded day out of the week, it is imperative to your workout regimen on this day because it gives you the momentum to continue your gym routines throughout the rest of the week.

HOW TO PREPARE:                                 Since this particular day will be the day that you will try your hardest to convince yourself not to go to the gym, you must make sure to start your morning by find some motivation. It all starts with a vision. Remember all that planning we spoke about? This is why it’s so important, so you can wake up and already have a plan. Then, your first real motivation is your breakfast! Which you can eat after the workout. Pre-workout snacks are always first (sorry for the tease). However, they can be just as good! Another option to push yourself to the gym, is to drink a pre-workout drink.

These drinks contain many different artificial and natural ingredients which boosts your energy and helps improve stamina and endurance. Although most people believe that these are just an extreme dose of caffeine (which most are), they do vary so make sure to read the nutritional facts and just keep trying to find one that works for you.

Now, we’re off to the gym!

If we review our workout schedule, Mondays are designated for chest and biceps.

CHEST:

For a heavy lifting day, we have to start on the bench. Now, for people who are new to this the bar alone is 45 lbs. So, always start there if you never have benches before. If you are lifting to go after a new personal record (PR), you have to start light and gradually add weight. If you are going very heavy, I suggest you find a spotter so you won’t hurt yourself. Also, it is very important to have the correct form while bench pressing (view below). This form is necessary to achieve your peak performance, while preventing injuries. In addition, this form is the best way for muscles to form while using this technique, so make sure to follow it.

                                           flat bench press form

 

There is two other kinds of bench presses, other than the flat bench. There is the incline and decline bench as well, which each target the chest. I usually rotate the different kinds of benches throughout the weeks. The incline bench focuses on the upper chest, while the decline works on the bottom definition. The flat bench is the best of both worlds, and works on the full chest.

After the bench, they are many other techniques and machines which all exercise the chest. Another important one is the pectoral fly machine. This machine can also be simulated on the cables. Regardless of which one you do, it will still work on expanding the chest muscles which is good for two reasons. When you bench press, your chest muscles is being compressed. However, you really need to tighten and expand your muscles for them to rip, so they can grow bigger. So, these pectoral fly exercises help with muscle growth and with preventing cramps. This method stretches the muscle, so it does not stay wound up; which is the reason for muscle cramps.

                    pectoral fly machine

  pectoral fly simulation with cables

 

There are copious workout with many variations when it comes to any muscle group, these are just a few essential ones that are very commonly used. If you need more ideas check youtube or any fitness guru’s social media, and there will be many to chose from. Sadly, this is only half of your Monday workout; biceps is up next!

You Are What You Eat

“Timing is everything”

This is a phrase you hear for various reasons, but it is most prevalent for lifting. The specific time you go to the gym can have an effect on your “gains” or weight lost. Usually, I prefer to go to the gym as soon as I wake up, even before breakfast. This is due to the fact that your body responds better to working out before it has a lot of food in its system. Exercising without a heavy breakfast will not necessarily make you lose weight faster, even though that is a common belief. However, it does come with the benefit to prevent you from feeling sluggish.

I should clarify what I mean by a “heavy breakfast”. This type of breakfast is packed with multiple items heavy with carbohydrates or fats. Although carbs are crucial to nutrition, when you overload your body with them before a workout, there is more carbs than your body can burn. During exercise carbs are burned off first, then it begins to burn the actual body fat. So, if you eat a heavy breakfast your body will be so overwhelmed by the amount of carbs and fats that you had, that it will become “sluggish” since it has so much to burn through. Often if your workout duration and intensity are not high enough where it is able to burn through the excess carbs, that workout would only serve as burning off what you ate that morning instead of working on the fat underneath.

Instead, a pre-workout snack could be used to fuel your body. It is important that you grab a snack packed with natural sugars and carbohydrates which is what gives the human body energy. These two attributes of nutrition is also what your body burns as well as fat so once they are depleted, your body does not have the same energy. They are necessary to help you continue the same intensity in your workout throughout the entire time. Not including their benefit on your blood-sugar levels.

If you exercise without any breakfast, at a high intensity or even for a long time, you increase the risk of having low blood sugar. The lack of fuel in your system diminishes your strength, stamina, and speed. Along with that, it can cause dizziness or nausea since your blood sugar is low and you are forcing your blood flow to spike as your heart rate increases during your routine. This is why the natural sugar content of your snack is critical.

Here’s some examples of nutritious pre-workout snacks:                       

-bananas

-apples

-greek yogurt

-nuts/seeds

-a slice of toast with peanut/almond butter

Any of these are sufficient for you to complete your rigorous workout regimen, and there’s plenty more snack ideas out there. Be creative! Experiment and find out what works for you. Even with these snacks, timing is still relevant. A pre-workout snack should be eaten at least 45 minutes before exercise because it can lead to cramping or nausea. It needs time to digest and become the fuel that your body requires.

So, next time you exercise don’t forget to grab a treat or you’ll feel beat!

The Game Plan

TimeOut

Before you head to the gym ready to figure out this working out stuff, we have to call a “timeout.” Believe it or not, weight lifting starts with careful planning. Don’t think this planning is supposed to be “on the spot” because to get the best results planning could be done months ahead of time. I know this sounds pretty hardcore, and I’m sure by now you are having second thoughts about my training process, but planning your workouts can be done on a much smaller scale. So, don’t give up on going to the gym just yet!

Before we even begin scheduling weightlifting regimens, we have to start with the basics of what muscle groups to work on. Everyone varies in the muscle groups that they exercise on the same day, but I’ll let you have my personal routine. I prefer to work out a large muscle group with a small muscle group all in one day at the gym. If you work on two large muscle groups per day, you will feel fatigue and there’s a higher risk of injuring yourself. If you work on two small muscle groups, you may not receive the same results as you would if you followed my routine. Now, let’s review the muscle groups.

Madison Pettis and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a scene from “The Game Plan,” a Walt Disney Pictures release.

My personal favorite combinations are:

-Back and Triceps

-Chest and Biceps

-Abs and Shoulders

-Legs (they get their own day because the quad is considered a big muscle, while the calf is the small muscle group)

These combinations don’t have to be followed exactly, it can always be altered to what you personally prefer.

Next, these muscle group combinations need to be ordered according to the days of the week. Scheduling workouts throughout the week is important because it helps save the time that would be spent walking around the gym, trying to figure out which machine to use. Also, planning forces a sense of commitment in completing those workouts on those assigned days. The schedule motivates people to go to the gym because it is a constant reminder to go. Planning ahead is yet another technique in making your gym experience easier.

So, finally we are at the part where I tell you my top secret routine.

This is my everyday weekly routine to gain muscle:

Monday – Chest/biceps

Tuesday- Back/triceps

Wednesday- Legs

Thursday- Core/shoulders

Friday- Chest/biceps

Saturday- Back/triceps

Sunday- REST DAY!!

It may be weird that I repeat chest/biceps and back/triceps twice a week but honestly leg day is a killer! HA. However, this is just an example of a weekly schedule, it can all be altered to fit your needs. Once you have established a routine, it is important that you keep the same routine every week. These muscle groups may be the same but the different techniques you use to work on them can change weekly. Not only do you have to plan what to do every day, but you have to choose which weeks to use heavy weight v. using light weight. All these routines are interchangeable, but they are all imperative to your training.

Grasshopper’s Beginnings

Everyone starts somewhere. Well, I started as a lazy teenager, who’s biggest hardship was motivating myself to exercise. Hard to believe that a teenager is lazy, right? But, I guess I never put much thought into what exercise does to my health. However, all of this changed once I got a job at a naturopathic health food/supplement store, Nature’s Way. This store and the people in it taught me everything about wellness, and what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle.

There is three sections to wellness: exercising, healthy eating, and supplements. Luckily, I know all three so by the end of my blog, we’ll both be pros on living a healthy life. There’s a lot more than getting 30 minutes of walking, and eating a vegetable once a week. I know it’s strange to hear a teenager talk about what wellness is, since it is usually considered a topic older and wiser people talk about. However, with my past knowledge and google I can be pretty knowledgable as well.

With the help of a gym partner/mentor, who also worked alongside with me at Nature’s Way, I learned many different techniques, workout regimens that affect how the muscle groups grow. There’s two major workout styles when it comes to lifting weights. There is heavy-weight with low repetitions, and light-weight with high repetitions. Both of these ways produce a different result on the muscles. Heavy-weight causes the muscles to grow in volume. The term “bulking up” is usually associated with this technique because this is where your strength improves and usually weight gain occurs due to the significant mass of the newly formed muscle. While on the other hand, the light-weight technique results in well-defined muscles, that are not necessarily large. Of course, cardio helps burn fat and give you a lean look, however to grow and work the fibers in the muscles a high repetition of light weight is needed. These are just two main categories of weight training, however there is so much more to learn in depth.

Not only, is weight training and exercise important, but healthy eating is as well. The ratio of fruits and veggies, to carbs, to protein is a crucial part of muscle repair, and general health. I am kind of stating the obvious though. So let me break it down, every vitamins and mineral inside food is good for a certain aspect of health, especially when it relates to repairing and growing the muscle. Certain foods, help boost metabolism which helps burn the fat. Foods that are high in protein helps rebuild muscle, which is important to build stronger muscles. Each food group significantly contributes to the recovery and improvement of muscle health.

Vitamins and minerals do not have to come directly from food since most of the US food supply is deficient in the necessary nutrients. Thus, supplements are needed to replenish these vitamin deficiencies. Not only, do supplements provide vitamins and minerals, but certain vitamins have effects on the muscles, joints, and nerve health which is important for working out. Supplements such as, fish oil, which provides Omega 6, which is an oil which helps lubricate joints which helps prevent injuries when working out. There is many different supplements which can advance any exercise.

In this blog, each of these parts will be reviewed in depth to further understand the strong relationship between these factors. So, let’s “bulk up” and explore.