Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have mentioned my workout partner, Ivory, in my blogs a few times. He's a big fella (6'2" or so) with the kind of look many men aspire towards:
(No, he's not on steroids- trust me! Everyone wonders, but that fact is that it's a combination of genetics and willingness to suffer in the gym. Also, interestingly enough, he has never and does not now compete. He just likes to work out.)
We have been working out together for over two years now. Over that time I've noted a go-to pattern he generally uses when he lifts weights by his own devices (purely out of this own head, no outside input). When we first started lifting together this method exhausted me. Now I've adapted, and I have noted that the times I stick with this program both my strength AND muscle definition increase. I don't look big and bulky or any less feminine, so don't worry about that. Women who lift heavy (and avoid steroids) have a TOTALLY different look than men who lift the same way.
Anyhow, thought I would share what I've observed. I love hearing what others are doing and thought this might inspire someone else in some way.
Keep in mind that this is an advanced lifting routine. You want to be a fairly experienced weight lifter (6 months or more) who is well-versed in proper form before attempting this program. The beauty of it is that it grows with you as your strength increases.
He uses this method most often for his big muscle groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, and Legs.
His first set is one that is multiple-joint and uses the entire muscle group. So for chest this would be some kind of a chest press, for shoulders some kind of a shoulder press, and for back usually a pull-down or pull-up. Legs are almost always a squatting movement.
Of this exercise, he'll do a couple sets of 15-20 with a fairly light weight to warm up and bring some blood into the area. In-between warm-up sets, he stretches the muscle group. (It's a hot debate about whether stretching before is beneficial to the workout or not, but it's what he does.)
Now it's on to working sets, where he goes into pyramiding this exercise like this:
He'll do another set of 15, but with increased weight so that he's really feeling it by the time he's done.
The next set is a set of about 12, slightly increased weight from the set before. He could do several more reps, but he doesn't want to blow his muscles out this early in the game.
He rests for a minute or so. The next set he raises the weight a little so that he's somewhere in the 10 rep range. He could still get 2 or so more of these out, but stops at 10.
Another short rest and the weight is raised again for a set of 8. At this point he could get another rep out if you held a gun to his head.
Now he needs a couple of minutes rest to get his strength back before going into the fifth and final working set. He's raised the weight again so that it's pretty darned heavy- He pushes out about 4-6 reps, usually being spotted, and there is no way under God's green earth he's going to be able to get another rep out. He's spent. And done with that exercise.
The next exercise he chooses will be a little more specific as to the area of the muscle it targets, yet still incorporates the whole muscle group. With chest he'll usually choose some kind of machine incline press or a flye movement. With back this will usually be a rowing movement. And with delts he's going to go in for either a front or a lateral movement, because that's where he prioritizes. With legs it's usually some kind of a leg press.
For this one he'll do four sets, starting out fairly heavy for about 12 reps, then raising and going to 10, then raising again for a couple of sets of 8 reps. Those last 3 sets he's pretty much worn out and needs a couple of minutes of recovery time between to get his strength back up for the next set.
The next two exercises he chooses will be area-specific within that body part. Maybe a decline flye and pullover for chest, strait-arm pullover and bent row for back, either a front or lateral move (whichever he didn't do for the second exercise) and a rear delt move for shoulders, and then some kind of leg extension and hamstring curl for thighs.
For both these 3rd and 4th exercises he'll typically do 3 sets of about 10-12 reps, starting pretty heavy and maxing out with each set.
For the fifth and final exercise, he's going to choose one that either hits the whole area again or, in the case of legs, hits his calves. For chest this will often be a standing cable crossover flye, for back a barbell bent row, for delts some kind of shrug.
Of these he typically does two sets of 15-20. It's more of a "peaking" exercise to get a burn in the muscles than one that is used for strength. He's too worn out from the 4 exercises before to get much more out of them.
Here's a sample Chest workout, at the request of Mrs.Carly:
- Warmup: Incline DB Bench Press- Two light sets of 20 (2x20)
- DB Incline Bench Press: Pyramid of 5x15, 12, 10, 8, 6
- Machine Flyes: 4x12, 10, 10, 8
- DB Cross-Bench Pullovers: 3x10-12
- BB Decline Press: 3x10-12
- Low Cable Crossover Flyes: 2x15-20
In the case of legs, this 5th exercise is where he does his calf exercise. He'll usually get in 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Sometimes he'll do a second set of calf exercises, depending on how they feel after the leg workout.
He'll break from this routine several times a year, usually when he finds a workout program in one of his fitness magazines that he wants to do for variety (usually these take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to complete). Or sometimes he'll come in and decide to do 3 sets of 15 for most exercises, or he'll super-set. I think a lot of the reason he continues to improve is because he isn't stuck in a rut. But his default program is the one above, and with good reason- Obviously it works!
Let me know what you think. Was this a valuable blog, or something that is just too hard to relate to?
Friday, August 17, 2012
Man.... I have a real problem with this whole "Cheat Meal", or worse yet, "Cheat Day" concept.
First of all, could we please stop using the word "cheat"? Cheat makes it sound like if you don't over-indulge in foods that are horrible for you, you've failed your mission. Do you really want to cheat yourself out of your healthy eating plan?
Additionally, for someone who is a recovering binge eater (like me), it's an open invitation to gorge. I can easily do 3,000 or more calories worth of damage in the span of just an hour or two. It's really not that hard. (Proof: At Applebees, 1/2 order of onion rings- 645 calories, Riblets platter- 1700 calories, 1/2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae- 775 calories. Total: 3120 calories, even when I shared the appetizer and dessert. And I was drinking un-sweet tea!)
One pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories. If I managed to eat 500 calories less than my daily caloric intake for a week, that should add up to about a pound of weight loss that week (500x7 days in the week=3500 calories). Which would be great, except I pretty much packed all of those calories into the above Applebees meal.
And people wonder why they aren't losing weight with cheat meals.
If we move into a bigger meal, or (God forbid!) an entire cheat day, it's easy to see how weight gain could actually occur, despite eating well 6 days out of 7.
Look, I don't mean to be Negative Nancy about enjoying a treat every once in a while. But I think we need to rethink the way we view foods in regards to how we are going to live our life from here on out. It all really DOES make a difference over the long haul.
In David Greenwalt's book The Leanness Lifestyle (which I have frequently referred to as my Fitness Bible), he purposes a Splurge Meal. This is a much better thing to call it, IMHO. You are not going off the rails with cheating, you are planning an indulgence. And it is going to factor into your weekly caloric intake.
How do you make this work? Personally, during the rest of the week I'd shave another 100 calories off of each day. This gives me 600 calories more out of my diet I can "play" with for my Splurge meal. That's step 1.
Next, I'd cut back on my carbs the day of the planned splurge. I'm taking it out of carbs, because, let's face it: people don't usually splurge on turkey breast.
Here's how I'd put it into action:
I'd bring my regular morning oatmeal from 1/2 C dry measure (before cooking) to 1/4 C. That's 75 calories. I'd probably also skip my fruit for my mid-morning or after-workout snack and have just protein powder. There's another 80 or so calories, all from carbs. Lunch would be reduced by about a single portion of carbs, for about another 80 carb calories. So right there, I've got 235 calories in the bank. Add it to the 600 I managed to cut back on during the week, and I'm 835 calories ahead. Plus, I still have my regular dinner calories to factor in, which is normally about 500 for me. Add that to the 835 I already saved and now I'm at 1335. This I can do.
Now, it's time to plan (not haphazardly wing) that splurge.
Before I go to Applebees, I decide what it is I most want to splurge on. For me, it's the cookie Sundae, which I am going to split with my teen daughter (she's skinny).
Knowing this, I look up the nutritional information online before I ever leave the house. Then when I get to the restaurant I order, according to plan, the 9-ounce house sirloin (I'm hungry!) for 310 calories with the garlic mashed potatoes for 250 calories and the seasonal veggies for about 40 calories. That's 600 calories for a very decent dinner that is still a splurge over what I would normally eat.
Dessert is another 775 for 1/2 of that Cookie Sundae. I'm at 1375 calories, just 40 over my 1335. No big deal.
The trick immediately AFTER the splurge is to stick to the plan. If you are anything like me, you tend to go a bit off of the rails once a splurge has occurred. For me, this means I still have my protein shake before bed, even if I don't feel particularly hungry, just to get myself RIGHT BACK on track.
And what's important is that I did NOT cheat, and I have nothing to feel guilty for.
The closer you get to goal, the more important honesty with yourself and planning like this will be. Fat doesn't take a vacation, so please don't believe it isn't going to show up if you invite it by eating with abandon.
And for Pete's sake, stop calling it a Cheat Meal. At least, in front of me.
Sunday, August 05, 2012
I have a tip I use when figuring out how many cardio calories I have burned. This stems from something I read in David Greenwalt's book "The Leanness Lifestyle", which I consider my fitness bible. In the book he states that it's reasonable to assume that a man working very hard burns 10 calories a minute and a woman 8. Since he goes off of scientific studies and not hunches, I trust David's book and the things he says in it.
I've always felt like cardio machines are a little generous when it comes to how many calories they say I burn. I wanted to adjust it to be on the safe side of realistic for my logging purposes. So, working off of the 10/8 rule above, it's fair to guess that we women burn about 80% of the number of calories men doing performing the same activity at the same intensity. (8 is 80% of 10.) I assume the machine thinks I am a man, since while I have had a machine ask my weight and age, I've yet to see one that asks my gender. Given that, I take the total amount of calories it says I've burned and reduce it by 20% to give me 80%. (This is easier mental math for me than multiplying it by 80%)
So if I worked out on the elliptical machine for 45 minutes and it says I burned 450 calories, I assume I burned roughly 360 calories. (20% of 450 is 90: 450 minus 90 is 360.)
To break it down even further for my usually-exhausted mind at the end of a tough cardio workout, I just double what 10% is to come up with the 20% number, since 10% is easier to tell at a glance. So in the case of the elliptical workout above, 45 is 10% of 450. 45 times two is 90. So 90 is 20%, or what I need to subtract from the total the machine is giving me.
My personal method for logging my food and exercise is in my Weight Watchers tracker, which we all know uses a point system instead of calories. I assume every 50 calories is 1 Weight Watchers point. So I round the number I came up with (360) down (not EVER up- I am trying to err on the side of caution) to the nearest 50. For the aforementioned elliptical workout, this would give me 350. Then I just divide by 50 to come up with the number of Points to check off in my exercise tracker- in this case 7. (350 divided by 50 is 7.)
This is all very rough and by no means terribly accurate, but I've found it's a good way to guess.
If you are a man, forget it. As long as you entered your age and weight into the machine, just go with the number it gives you. If you are a man using the Weight Watchers system, round that number down to the nearest 50, divide by 50, and there 'ya got your exercise points.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I must admit, I was a little misleading with that title.
Because now I am about to disappoint you. And I am also about to get lambasted by people for a myriad of reasons that even I can't predict. It's a touchy subject, but I have come to the conclusion that the answer to the question "How do I get my loved one to get in shape" is, quite simply, "You can't".
That's right. There's not a blessed thing you can plot to do to motivate someone who is not you to change. I've learned this by not only observing others, but by living it (and making the people around me miserable and resent me, I might add). The truth is I may have also stalled their trip down the fitness path.
Learn from my mistakes and those I have observed in others. Please.
When we get in better shape, we naturally want the people we love to also get in shape because..... well...... we love them.
But let's be honest- If someone tried to influence you to change back before you started getting your act together, would it have done any good?
Didn't think so.
Now what makes you think they are any different?
Your best bet is to continue to do what is best for you and hope it will motivate them. And chances are it probably will..... eventually. But I can almost guarantee it won't be as soon as you want. So stop waiting for them to get their keisters in gear and just get on with your own fit life.
Here are some things I believe you have the right to do:
-You have the right to insist on keeping trigger foods out of the house. In our house I get to choose what comes into the kitchen. If I am feeling strong, ice cream may make it through the door. But if I don't either bring it in myself or invite it in, it's not allowed. Maybe that sounds unfair, but I'm the one who's made the big changes for her health, here, and I shouldn't be expected to live with things that could sabotage that. It'd be like expecting a coke addict to live in a crack house: Completely unrealistic. And since my way of eating won't hurt anyone else, and keeping trigger foods around COULD hurt me, on this one I get my way.
- You have the right to expect the rest of the family to respect your workout schedule. It's what helped you get healthy, it is what will help you stay healthy, and you have a right to your health. No one else should be allowed to mess that up. (However, you should try to make your daily workout at the most convenient time for the people you live with. For me, this is first thing in the morning. It makes me available for my family the rest of the day.)
- You have the right to tell people you are not responsible for doing the work for them. Trust me, along the line someone is going to decide they want to look better, too, and say something to the effect of "Just tell me what to eat and how to work out, since you've already done this." When someone doesn't make the effort to learn, they won't know how to implement the changes necessary to maintain their health after the goal is met. Teach them? Yes. Do it for them? That's not your responsibility.
- You have the right to stand up for yourself when people make fun of your healthier choices. Just because you are making choices that might make people uncomfortable does NOT mean you have to take their less-than-kind comments lying down. It's okay to say something like "Ouch! That hurt!'.
- You have the right to serve healthy food to your guests. If they don't want to eat the kinds of foods you serve, they need to host the event in their own home.
- You have the right to bring foods you can eat when you go to a place where you know there won't be any good choices for you. This includes restaurants and times you are invited to someone's house. If people don't like this one, that's just too bad. You have the business of being healthy that comes first.
- You have the right (and responsibility) to be kind. Remember the old saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar"? It REALLY applies here.
And here are some things I believe you do NOT have the right to do:
- You do not have the right to lecture other people on why the food you are eating is superior to their choices. People really resent this. Trust me- if they want to know, they will ask.
- You do not have the right to tell others what to order in restaurants. Unless it's your your child this is none of your business. (If they ask you what a good choice is, that's another issue all together.)
- You do not have the right to dictate what is served in someone else's home. It's okay to (nicely!) ask what they are going to serve, so you can prepare. But to ask them to serve something else entirely is simply rude.
- You do not have the right to nag someone else on why you want them to get fit. Was this ever motivational for you?
- You do not have the right to ask someone pointed questions like "How's your weight?" Oh, come on.... You know at least one person who's done something that. Don't become this individual. They know they are heavy- It's not like you are giving them a new revelation. (Besides, how are they supposed to answer? "It sucks. Thanks for asking! And yours?"?)
It bears repeating- In making wise choices consistently you might very well set an example for your loved one that will eventually motivate them to change. Let that be a motivator for you in doing the right things if you like, but don't let anyone else be your key reason for getting or staying fit. Keep YOU the focus of your fit lifestyle. You will be more genuine, and therefore more appealing, in your influence that way.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
So..... You are one of the lucky ones who has found a compatible workout partner with the same workout style, who respects your boundaries, and who has the same time availability. Blessed indeed you are! Here are some things I have observed and experienced that will help you be a workout partner they will appreciate and respect:
1. Firmly establish at the beginning what your partnership will look like. Are you doing the same program and taking turns doing sets so that you can assist and encourage one another? Doing the same program and working out NEXT to each other, in cadence? Simply going to be at the gym at the same time to support each other in your separate programs and spot the other when you need it? A combination of these? Make sure you know what his or her definition of "partner" is.
2. Show up on time. If you are going to be late, text or call and tell your partner. That way they can get in a little extra warm-up cardio while they wait for you. Nothing is worse than sitting in your car or on a bench in the gym thinking "Where is she? Is she Okay? Did she get in a car wreck? Oversleep? Should I get started working out, or wait?"
3. Let your partner know ASAP if you aren't going to be there one day. My partner tells me often a week or more in advance. I appreciate it. It lets me know I don't have to be there if I want to sleep in a little longer (we usually work out in the early AM), and also lets me mentally prepare for a workout alone- It's not going to be a heavy day if I'm flying solo!
4. If you are going to change your program, discuss it with your partner. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I've actually heard of people walking into the gym and informing their partner that they are starting something different that very day. This means the partner either has to change gears on the fly to accommodate or finds they are left out completely and in a very abrupt fashion. That's not fair. You are a team. Let your teammate know if you want to switch things up. Which leads to......
5. If you are going to implement a program that requires you to go solo, or you want to stop working out with your partner either permanently or for a period of time, let them know about this well in advance. This will give your counterpart time to adjust and regroup. You had time to think about the change you are going to make, now he or she needs time to think of what changes they will need to make in turn to adjust to not having you around.
6. Leave your phone in the car. If you must bring it in for emergency reasons, explain what is going on to your partner. This way they'll be supportive when you have to answer or call mid-workout. Plus, they'll be looking out for your phone and are less likely to step on it!
7. Ask how they prefer to be spotted. A lot of guys lifting heavy weights want to be spotted right above the elbow. Women often want to feel a set of hands more mid-upper arm. Some people want to hear "It's all you!" when lifting a heavy load, while others want you to lie and say "I've got it!", when really you are applying minimal pressure to help them. You will get to know their needs and preferences in detail as you continue to work out together, but at the beginning you really need to ask.
8. For Pete's sake, pay attention (and I mean rapt attention) when spotting your partner. This means no talking to other pals, looking at the hot member of the opposite sex saunter by, admiring yourself in the mirror, or anything else that is not staring right at your partner. And put the music in your headset on pause so you can hear your partners signal (often difficult breathing) that it's time for you to kick into action and spot them. Texting and calling shouldn't be an issue, because you left your phone in the car, remember? And even if you brought it in for an emergency per #6, talking and texting should wait until your partner is NOT mid-set. They are depending on you for safety. Don't let them down.
9. Help them switch out weights, even if you are using different lifting aparatus'. It's considerate and besides, lifting with a partner already takes longer than lifting solo- this will help you both get out of the gym a little quicker.
10. Encourage, but not to the point of urging them to do something that could hurt them. It takes time to figure out when your partner is not pushing themselves hard enough and when they are stopping because their body truly can't take anymore. But until you get to know each other a little better, here's a clue: Phrases that are doubtful, like "I am not sure if I should move up to the 45's for the next set", usually mean they are simply unsure of their own strength. If you feel they can do more, tell them to go pick up the 45's and you will help if it's too much. On the other hand, if they are making a definitive statement like "My elbow can't take that weight", respect it. You don't want to be responsible for your partner getting injured.
11. If you decide you aren't compatible as partners after all and find it in your best interest to "break up", it's best to be up front about it. Are their feelings going to be hurt? Probably a little, at least. But it's a lot kinder to let them know they are free to find someone else to work out with than to let them stumble awkwardly around the gym wondering if they have a partner or not. Saying something along the lines of "I am finding that our lifting partnership isn't working out the way I had hoped. I'm so sorry, and I do appreciate what I have learned from working out with you. I think it's time we looked for other lifting partners. In the meantime, if you need a spot, please don't hesitate to ask!" should suffice. If they ask for specifics, tell them. It might help them in future lifting-partner relationships. Otherwise, keep specific reasons to yourself. It could wind up adding insult to the injury.
12. Above all, treasure your partner. Often we have to look years for someone that has that magic combination that works in the gym. Treat them with respect, and expect to be treated with respect in return. Who knows? You might find yourself with a life-long friend.
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