Shari Duncan

Tag: Weight Training

Is Your Time in the Gym Time Well Spent?
Admin

by on Aug.10, 2013, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

How balanced is your training program?

Are you training chest and back as  frequently as legs?…  How much recovery time do you allow between workouts?…  Are your fitness goals written out and  are you progressing towards those goals?…  How do you know if you are getting in enough cardio hours… do you designate time each week for stretching, ab and core work?…
What about time management? Do you pace yourself,  and give enough time to recover in between sets, or perhaps spend too much time socializing with other gym goers?
This is why keeping a training journal can be most helpful.  Workout logs are beneficial for beginners as well as seasoned lifters.  I’d say they are essential if you are serious about achieving your fitness goals.

Why keep a journal?

  • Motivation. Looking back at where you come from is inspiring.
  • Awareness. You get an understanding of what works for you.

    Training logs provide accountability, progress, and motivation for your training sessions.

  • Experience. You learn from your errors: injuries, etc.
  • Confidence. You’ve got a plan when you go to the gym.

The process of writing down your loads, sets, reps, etc.  helps you to better remember the workout.  It’s nice to be able to flip back and see what weight you used and how many sets and reps you did.   The process of keeping a log enables seasoned lifters to critically analyze their programs and see if they’re truly delivering results.

Also, use your log to jot down important notes such as machine settings, how the set felt; (light, heavy), how you felt that day (energized, fatigued, hungry, sore).

Keeping a journal accelerates the learning process.

By writing down your workouts you are taking an additional few minutes to process what you have learned, repeat the concepts and terminology to yourself, and ingrain it into your brain.

If you are a beginner it is likely you will be able to beat previous efforst every week for several months. As you establish new routines, it is helpful to know what you did your previous workout and to have a specific goal for each training session. Logging workouts helps you remember the appropriate weights to use. Beginners struggle most with remembering not only which exercises to do, but in which order, how many sets, reps, etc.  because everything is new to them.  They’re not yet familiar with the names of exercises, the loads they used, etc. so training logs for beginners are essential.  I have been  journaling  for several years now and still write notes in the margins to remind me of proper set-up and/or form on certain exercises.

Tracking results and being able to check your progress lets you know if what you’re doing is or isn’t working.   If you make notes about your workout, you are also less likely to spend time chatting between sets or resting too long.   Seeing your gains on paper will reaffirm that you are progressing, and as a result motivation will likely increase or stay high.

The basic benefits of journaling

  • Faster learning
  • Remembering weights
  • Having information to analyze
  • Tracking progress
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Mental Strength… Do you Exercise your Mind?
Shari

by on Mar.10, 2013, under General HEALTH, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Do you Train your Brain to be as Tough as your Body?

Some may argue that toughness is found in soul, spirit and mind…  and not in muscles.

Never underestimate the power of your mind…whether it is in sports, in business or in life.   Becoming mentally stronger may be the one factor that determines whether you realize your goals; or not.  It may be the one single factor separating you from being a champion or a runner up.

When life gets hard, we tend to want comfort, not change.  Those who have learned the secret to mental toughness have learned that comfort now may mean pain later, but a little pain now can yield great rewards in the future.

MIND POWER--Train your mind as well as your body

When it comes to training; having mental strength is one of the most important pieces of sports equipment you will ever own.  Your physical workouts will strengthen you body,  but mental strength training provides the necessary conditioning to fortify your mind.  It provides you a psychological edge that enables you to be consistent; to maintain focus and determination to not only finish but perform at your maximum potential,  despite any difficulty or consequences.   More simply put: To Never Quit.   Being mentally strong directly affects your confidence.  As mental strength rises, so will your confidence.    If you want to become mentally stronger, you have to become tough about what you think.  What you think determines how you act.  Replace weak thoughts like “I can’t or I’m too tired” with positive ones;  I feel great; my body is strong.”

Regardless of your fitness goals or where you are in your training you will be challenged many times to keep moving forward to achieve your desired goal.   Here are some common traits that make up mental toughness:

Be resilient:

Learn to bounce back from adversity, pain, or a disappointing performance. Realize and admit a mistake, understand a missed opportunity, embrace the lesson and quickly move on and refocus on the immediate goal ahead.

Focus

Focus in the face of distractions and unexpected circumstances.   Don’t avoid situations or make excuses for less than perfect conditions.  When your are dead tired, hurting and want to quit is the time to dig deep and focus.  Tell yourself to keep moving forward.

Trust:

Have faith in yourself   Trust that your body will know what to do when it is time to perform.  Trust in your training and your plan. Trust in your coach. Believe in yourself, even if there is no one nearby to boost your confidence.

—-BE POSITIVE:  TALK TO YOURSELF: VISUALZE:

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: BE PREPARED—

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will”  Mahatma Gandhi

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Empower and Challenge yourself with Push-Ups!!
Shari

by on Mar.04, 2012, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Because sometimes the most basic exercises are the most effective.

Push-ups are among the all-time great total body workout exercises.  They incorporate the triceps, shoulders, chest, abdominals, back and core.  They can be made easier or harder. They build strength and stamina.  They force the heart to work harder and the blood to pump faster. This increases metabolism and helps you burn more calories.
And, they can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone regardless of fitness level.

No space?…   No equipment?…   No time?…    No Problem.

NO  MORE EXCUSES!

If you cannot do one push-up today, begin with wall pushups or by standing about 2 feet away from your kitchen counter and pushing away for 3 sets of 15. Gradually work to

Decline Push-up on Stability Ball -For added core stabilization and tricep involvement.

something lower as your strength increases. Once you build up arm and core strength, “graduate” to the floor,  and begin by holding yourself up in a plank position with your chest off the ground.  Start on your knees, with hands wide. (Wider is easier).  Don’t worry if cannot go full range yet. .. In time you will.

Build Core Strength

In addition to building upper body strength and gaining more power in the arms, shoulders and hands, pushups done with the proper form will help build the core muscles in the middle of your body. To do pushups properly, your elbows must be fully extended at the start and end of a pushup, your toes should be on the floor and your legs, hips and back should be straight.

There are dozens of variations of push-ups out there.

Wrist-Friendly:

If you find that push-ups put strain on your wrists, try placing your hands on a set of dumbbells (or a push-up bar) to keep your wrists in a more neutral position.  According to Oxygen Magazine author Pam Mazzuca, performing pushups in this manner also increases core activation as well as engagement of the back, triceps and rear deltoids.

Angled, Medicine, Stability Ball, Bosu Pushups:

Push Up on Dumbbells to reduce strain on wrists.

By altering the angle that you perform push-ups, you also change the emphasis of the muscles worked. Doing pushups with your feet on an incline work the shoulder and upper chest muscles a little bit harder than a standard pushup does.    If you really want to challenge yourself, place your feet on a stability ball instead of a stationary object. This forces you to balance your body at the same time that you’re working your pushups, offering a tough variation.  Incorporating an unstable, movable surface such as a medicine ball uses more core strength, increases difficulty of the exercise and engages more core and triceps.

As you continue to progress try:  plyo, staggered, deficit, diamond, handstand pushups… just to name a few .

Walk-out pushups are one of many ways to incorporate pushups into your overall total body workout routine.  Check out this short DEMO:

Walk Out Push-up Demo

Start your own push-up challenge today and watch as you impress yourself as you gain not only strength but confidence!

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Weightlifting and Joint Pain?
Shari

by on Feb.04, 2012, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training, Supplementation

Working out with weights will not cause joint pain.

Improper technique, insufficient rest, or poor nutrition might be contributing to your grief.

Joint pain is one of the most common problems among strength athletes.  It’s something younger lifters rarely think about when lifting and too many seasoned lifters wish they had when they are forced to stop lifting due to years of stress on joints.  Joints require mobility, stability, and motor control.  Proper weight training has been found to  improve joint health, return functionality and decrease pain. Regular exercise of the joints replenishes joint lubricants and builds cartilage.  Stronger muscles from weightlifting exercises offer more support to the joints.

Joint pain can be a slow progression over a long period of time. Repeated injuries can lead to chronic joint pain.  If you are experiencing pain from your weight lifting routine, you are probably doing something wrong.  Chances are one or more of these factors can be attributed for your pain:

  • ü  Insufficient warm-up prior to lifting.

    What's the cause of your joint pain?

  • ü  Over training. They train too long and/or too often
  • ü  Using overly heavy weights/low reps more often than they should
  • ü  Insufficient rest/recovery time to allow joints, tendons, muscles to recuperate from intense work.
  • ü  Poor form and less than perfect technique during heavy lifts
  • ü  Inadequate vitamins and  nutrients.
  • ü  All of the Above.

So let’s say that you are not guilty of the above 7 mistakes but still experience joint pain.  It could be bursitis, tendinitis, arthritis or the like causing aching joints.

Briefly:

ARTHRITIS: Osteoarthritis, by far the most common to bodybuilders and athletes is caused by wear and tera on the joints.  It is characterized by a deterioration of the cartilage at the ends of the bones. The once smooth cartilage becomes rough and causes more and more friction and pain.

BURSITIS: Joints contain small fluid filled sacks called bursae. The bursae assist in muscle and joint movement by cushioning  the joints/bones against friction. Inflammation from various causes (See above 7 mistakes!) results in a chronic pain called bursitis.

TENDINITIS: Tendonitis occurs when tendons around a joint become severely inflamed from overuse, micro-injury, etc.  It is probably the most common cause of pain to bodybuilders and other athletes and also the easiest to treat.  But if left untreated, as when people just try to “work through the pain”, it can lead to much more serious problems.

Many medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or treatments like cortical steroidal injections, address only symptoms and not the cause of the problem.  In fact, research has shown just the opposite; by merely masking symptoms, they may do more harm than good in the long run .

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/phys-ed-does-ibuprofen-help-or-hurt-during-exercise/

And the ever popular “stay off of it “ advice just does not fly with highly active  people.  The good news is that natural compounds and other dietary supplements may be helpful in supporting joints before, during and after lifting sessions.  If you are a lifter, joints require optimal nutrition to help you perform and recover.

Supplements to Consider:

GELATIN: A growing number of studies  now show that just 10 rams of hydrolyzed gelatin a day is effective in greatly reducing pain, improving mobility and overall bone/cartilage health.  Knox (the Jello people) have a product out called  NutraJoint.  It contains hydrolyze gelatin, calcium and vitamin C.

  • Diets rich in Vitamin C, D, and Calcium are important for optimizing joint health.

FLAX OIL: (Omega 3 Fats.) One of flax oils many, many benefits are those to improve overall joint health.  Flax oil is high in essential Omega 3 fatty acids.   Omega-3 fatty acids, from fish, flax, etc., have been shown in scientific/medical literature to reduce chronic  inflammation of any kind.  The recommended dose is 1-3 tablespoons/day.  Boost your intake with fatty fish (tuna,salmon,etc. ) walnuts, and flax.  If you can’t get it through food, supplement with 1-3 g of EPA/DHA per day from fish oil.

WATER: Drink more water.  Water helps to lubricate the joints.  Aim for ½ – 1 oz per pound of body weight per day. Or at least aim to drink 5-6 20 oz bottles of water per day.

FIBER: Focus on high fiber foods, and whole grains with at least 3g of fiber per serving.  Fiber controls blood glucose and therefore helps to control inflammation.

GLUCOSAMINE/CHONDROITIN SULFATE: Researchers  have found both effective for promoting joint health . Found in the body naturally, glucosamine is a form of amino sugar believed to play a role in cartilage formation and repair. Chondroitin sulfate, on the other hand, is a large protein molecule or proteoglycan that gives cartilage elasticity. Numerous studies have shown that regular use of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate offers pain relief similar to that offered by anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, but minus the gastrointestinal upset that may accompany long-term use of these medications. A daily dose of 1,200 mg has been shown to reduce joint pain.

It is never too early to take good care of your joints so that you are able to work out longer and more importantly remain pain free. Always begin your workout with range-of-motion exercises or an aerobic warm-up .  Lift with perfect form.  Ice your joints following exercise to reduce pain and swelling.

Joint pain should not go untreated. Don’t try to self diagnose.  Be sure to get an opinion from a trusted sports doctor first to determine exactly what your problem is.

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Fitness Plateaus: How to get your body out of cruise control.
Shari

by on Nov.13, 2011, under Fitness, Motivation, Weight Loss

“… There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”  Bruce Lee

Workout plateaus are nothing new.  You are hitting the gym routinely. You feel more energetic and look better, but  suddenly now you‘re not feeling the burn anymore.  The scale stops moving and your body becomes immune to the stress of exercise.  You have hit the wall.  Fortunately, it usually only takes a few changes to overcome a workout plateau.

The key to overcoming plateaus is change.

Changing up just a few things can make a big difference.  Our bodies are highly adaptive and are constantly working to maintain homeostasis—so the workout that was so challenging and making you sweat and burn calories 6 weeks ago is no longer.   Changing your approach or routine will help you blast through frustrating plateaus. Remember the body acclimates to repeated challenges, making it necessary to make changes every four to six weeks.

A few suggestions from Web MD:

Pump it up. Instead of 40 minutes on the treadmill, pump up your metabolism with high-intensity intervals. Do four minutes of any cardiovascular exercise as hard as you can; then two minutes of strength-building exercises (using free weights or weight machines). Repeat this “harder/easier” cycle five times. (The magic cardio-to-weights ratio is 2-to-1.) Your

Change workout activities, intensity and break through plateaus.

post-exercise metabolic rate and fat loss will increase much more than if you exercised 40 minutes steadily at an average pace, and you’re also building lean muscle mass.

Shake it up. Walking doesn’t do much to help you lose weight, even though it’s good for your health. Instead, mix up your cardio intervals by throwing in new things every week: the elliptical machine, the recumbent bike, the rowing machine, the stair climber. Keep your body guessing.

Start it up. The one time when simple aerobic exercise can really boost your metabolism is in the morning. When you first wake up, your liver has burned through your carbohydrate stores, and light aerobic exercise can jump-start the fat-burning enzymes in your liver. So start your day with a brisk walk.

Count it up. You might think you’re not snacking between meals, but it’s easy to miss the bites of your kids’ leftovers you take here and there. For a few days, record everything you eat. Make sure the extra food you take in is accounted for — either by cutting out your dinner roll or by doing an extra high-intensity interval.

——

*Varying your activities or cross-training is important to avoid or break through plateaus.  But while changing up type of activity is important, it is also important to implement variations in intensity.

Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days.  Grab a new partner to work out with. Get out of the gym and move your workout outdoors.  The mix-up of activities will also keep your workouts enjoyable, thus helping with motivation as you break through the wall.

And if you’re not strength training, now is the time to start.  A pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat.  And you want to replace fat with muscle to increase the amount of calories you burn a day.  If you are already lifting and have hit your plateau: You MUST step up the intensity of your strength training program. Bump up the frequency of your training from twice to three times a week. Increase the amount of weight you’re lifting to challenge your muscles even more or try a more challenging exercises.

But plateaus do not necessarily mean you need to work harder or spend more days at the gym. It may be time for an active rest.  Proper rest and recovery from working out is so important, it may just be the deciding force behind results and no results.  Consider taking a few days, to up to a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.

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Opposites Attract: Train opposing muscles to achieve muscular balance.
Shari

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

… and build more muscle in less time with supersets.

Strength training is an important component of fitness, but when done improperly it can result in muscle imbalance and result in injury.  The effectiveness of a workout also depends on what you want to achieve in regards to your fitness.  There are many ways to combine muscle groups to get the most out of your workouts. One popular technique is to train opposing (antagonistic) muscle groups together especially if the goal is to improve muscularity (muscle tone) and endurance.

Opposing muscle groups are your chest and back or your biceps and triceps, for example. (Think front/back or inner/outer).  But because the triceps support the muscles of the chest, you could also consider the triceps to be a secondary opposing muscle group of the back muscles and train them together.  Other examples would include training quadriceps with hamstrings, or abdominals and erector spinae. (lower back) in the same session.

work lower back, when training abdominals to prevent muscle imbalance

PRIMARY ANTAGONIST MUSCLE GROUPS

1) Pecs/Lats
2) Biceps/Triceps
3) Quadriceps/Hamstrings
4) Abdominals/Lower Back

Opposing muscle workouts are most effective by doing supersets.

A superset is performing two exercises in a row without stopping (or with very minimal rest) for a prescribed amount of sets. An example of this type of superset would be doing one set of bench press (for your chest) followed immediately by a set of pull ups (for your back). When you first start doing these, you may find that endurance is a problem but stamina will improve with time.

Let’s say you choose to train your chest and biceps during one workout.   Because the biceps are involved minimally in exercises for the chest, you will not be pre-exhausting your biceps. The result is that you will be able to train both your chest and your biceps with the maximum amount of concentration, effort and weight and because each muscle group gets the maximum amount of rest in between sets, you may ultimately be able to lift more, and thus over time, increase strength.

Opposing muscle supersets are a very effective training technique for many other reasons too:

  • Saves Time
  • Offers a greater challenge than traditional workouts
  • Creates variety and encourages new muscle growth
  • Eliminates the natural tendency to rest too long between set

So when you find yourself crunched for time, instead of skipping exercises, or reducing the number of sets or even ditching your workout completely… opt for super-setting for a new challenge.  With super setting, you can complete the same 60 minute workout in 40 minutes… and with increased intensity!  You will recruit more muscle fibers, over different muscle groups, in a shorter period of time.  WOW!

Training opposing muscles may also prevent injuries.

This is because the muscles that work together are in balance with one another rather than one over powering another. Working opposing muscles combined with stretching the muscles that have been worked prevents one muscle from becoming significantly tighter than it’s opposer and thus injury is less likely. When a muscle is worked it becomes tighter and the tendons connecting those muscles to the bone also become thicker and stronger.  When muscle imbalance occurs it is important to strengthen the opposing muscle and also to stretch the tight muscles.  So if you want to prevent injury and keep muscles in balance, train opposing muscles and always stretch after exercise.

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Ready to start a strength training program?… Knowing where to begin can be the hardest part.
Shari

by on Jan.07, 2011, under Fitness, Motivation, Strength and Agility Training

“I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds”

Building muscle strength is really good for you. And if you’re a woman, I promise you’re not going to end up looking freakishly masculine by lifting weights. There are many documented benefits to strength training, which include toning your muscles, increasing bone density, decreasing your weight, and decreasing your resting blood pressure… not to mention how much better you will look and  how much more energized you will feel!

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make however is doing too much too soon. Think of the first few weeks of your

Proper technique is a critical component of strength training

program as a prep-time; a period in which you concentrate on learning proper technique and form, which exercises to do, which muscle groups to work and how much weight to use. I’m going to say this part again… use this time to learn about proper form and get into the habit of regular strength training.

An important part of strength training is to be consistent. Everything is life that is good requires efforts to achieve. You want results? You will have to work at it for at least 6 months. Set yourself this timeline and keep to it.  At the end of the 6 months, you will see results if you are consistent.

You can begin your program in a gym or at home… the most important factor to making improvements to your health is that you start… somewhere.

There are hundreds of websites that offer general guidance on getting started and although very helpful, for a newcomer it all can also be overwhelming, contradictory (depending on who is giving the advice) and therefore a bit frustrating. Books and DVD’s also offer fundamental information and starter workout programs to follow.

There is probably no better option than an actual, live person to help you get your program going.  A coach or trainer will listen to your goals, note your limitations and observe and help you with proper form.  Most gyms offer complimentary orientation sessions to new members or you can always enlist the services of a trainer to help you design a program that is right for you and sets you up for success!

Before you begin your strength training exercises, it is important that you always warm up at least 5-10 minutes.  The warm-up will help to prevent injury. The goal of warming up is to increase blood flow to the muscles you are about to exercise.
A sample beginning routine would include a total body circuit program that would incorporate 2 sets per exercise using a weight where 10-15 repetitions can be completed, with the last 2-3 repetition considered “challenging”.   Start off with 2-3 days of strength training per week and focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups. For example: you would complete 1 exercise each for Chest, Back, Shoulder and Arms, and 2 exercises for Legs.  Allow your body to recover a day or two between workouts.

As your conditioning improves, and your fitness level increases, you may wish to incorporate an additional training day and break down your routine into an upper body workout one day and lower body on another. Periodically, you will need to change up and vary your exercises and you should be increasing the weight you lift every two to three weeks in order to prevent plateaus. If your body isn’t being challenged, you won’t make any gains. Ideally, you should be bettering yourself every time you train.  You may not increase the weight you lift every time—(if you can, that’s great)–but you will be able to increase the number of reps or sets that you do. Strive to reach a new level of fitness every single time you lift.

The best workout is one where your muscles feel worked, and you feel satisfied with your progress. If you’re ever in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and it should never be ignored.

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Put some FUN into your workout with “FUN”CTIONAL Training!
Shari

by on Nov.17, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation, Strength and Agility Training

Train your body to handle real-life situations.

Functional fitness focuses on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in a restrictive posture created by a gym machine. The key to functional exercise is integration. The primary goal of functional training is to transfer the improvements in strength achieved in one movement to enhancing the performance of another movement by affecting the entire neuromuscular system.  It’s about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently as conventional weight training does..  Functional strength training is not just done to improve your appearance, but to help improve performance in everyday activities. Exercises that

Train your whole body to improve performance in everyday life

Train your whole body to improve performance in everyday life

isolate joints and muscles are training muscles, not movements; which results in less functional improvement. For example, squats will have a greater transfer effect on improving an

individual’s ability to rise from a sofa than knee extension.

Train movements instead of muscles.  If you’re training the movement, the muscle will follow.!

Functional strength training (FST) is becoming more popular because it is so practical and is an ideal way to help maximize sports performance. The goal of FST is to develop athleticism. Athletic movements like running, jumping, throwing and lifting are enhanced. Sound technique and optimum speed with movements that are within the context of your sport are further developed. Functional movements offer an effective method in improving balance, coordination, and stability as well as agility, speed, power and strength.  FST should supplement traditional weight lifting and is not intended to replace it.  It provides variety and additional benefits that directly transfer to common sport movements. And because movements are neuromuscular in that they require the power of both your brain and your brawn, the best exercises to increase functional strength simply involve practicing the movement or motion you want to get better at.  Basically, exercises should mimic the movements of the sport while working against resistance. Weight training for strength may not enhance the endurance or strength required for a golfer. A golfer needs to work on core strength, and training involving swinging.  A runner, on the other hand, should enhance local muscular endurance.

Standard resistance training machines are of limited use for functional training – their fixed patterns rarely mimic natural movements, and they focus the effort on a single muscle group, rather than engaging the stabilizers and peripheral muscles.

Functional Equipment:

Tools of the Trade

"Tools of the Trade"

  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Body Weight
  • Resistance Bands and Loops
  • Sandbags
  • Cable Machines (Pulleys)
  • Exercise Balls
  • Medicine Balls

Strength training isn’t just about improving your physique. Incorporating Functional Strength Training can enhance overall well-being and help you achieve your potential, no matter the overall fitness goal.

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CORE LIFTS: The BIG 3
Shari

by on Oct.03, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Before incorporating “The Big 3” into your workout routine, first be assessed and monitored by a trained professional to ensure proper technique for safety and proficiency. Improper technique can cause an injury and will affect performance.

In regards to strength training, there are two basic ways to train. One is training with compound movements and the other is training with isolation exercises. Isolation exercises work single muscle groups as when using machines. Compound movements are bench pressing, dead lifting, squatting and using free weights where several muscles are involved and working together. If you want to improve your athletic condition, you need to perform compound movements by working more than one joint at a time during training.

The Bench

With a firm grip.. SQUEEZE the bar as if you are going to break it in two

With a firm grip.. SQUEEZE the bar as if you are going to break it in two

The primary muscles used in the bench press are the pectorals (major and minor), triceps, and deltoids. It will build upper body strength like no other, but if done with improper technique, can also result in injuries – especially shoulder injuries. For safety, be sure to have a spotter at all times.
Bench Press Setup. You need a strong base to press the weight from. Tighten your upper-back. Grip the bar hard: try to break it apart like breaking spaghetti. Squeeze your shoulder-blades before getting on the bench. Keep your shoulder-blades back & down at all times . This gives your body a solid base to press the bar from.  Keep chest up at all times; do not allow shoulders to roll forward.  Use a wide foot stance to increase stability on the bench. Feet flat on the floor, weight on the heels, lower leg perpendicular to the floor. This prevents extreme arching of your lower back.

EXECUTION: Keep the tight position during the Bench Press from start to finish. Squeeze the bar, keep your upper-back tight & your chest up. Unrack the weight with straight arms. Bench.

The Squat

Considered by many to be the most important athletic core lift, every muscle works when you Squat: your legs move the weight, your abs & lower back stabilize it, your arms squeeze the bar, etc. The Squat is NOT just a leg exercise, it’s a full body exercise. It is also a great tool for increasing lower body power which translates to increased speed and a higher vertical leap.

To avoid injury always Squat in a power rack. Set the safety pins so they can catch the bar would anything go wrong. The rest is technique – start light, add weight gradually, and remember form always comes before weight.

  1. Set the bar in a power rack at about mid-chest level.

    Always Squat with a Power Rack and  a spotter for safety

    Always Squat with a Power Rack and a spotter for safety

  2. Position your feet directly under the bar.
  3. Squat under the bar and put it on your back.
  4. Tighten everything and Squat up to unrack the bar.
  5. One step back with one leg, one step back with the other leg.

EXECUTION: Keep a low bar position, a tight upper-back, elbows back & wrists straight. Heels about shoulder width, point your toes out at about 30 degrees. Your toes must always follow your knees or you’ll get knee injuries. Practice and focus on technique.  The key to the Squatting correctly are your hips: you must have tension in your hamstrings at the bottom. Push your knees out as you squat down. Hit Parallel. Your hip joint must come lower than your knee joint. Ask someone to judge your depth or tape yourself. No Partial Squats

How to Squat Up. Your hip muscles will be stretched when in the bottom  position if you Squat correctly. Use that stretch to bounce out of the hole. If you Squat this way, you’ll be lift a lot more weight while keeping your knees safe.

  • Hips Up. Drive out of the hole by leading with your hips, not your chest. Don’t let your knees travel forward at the bottom or you’ll lose power.
  • Squeeze Your Glutes. Power comes from the glutes. Squeeze them hard as you lockout the weight. It will also keep your lower back safe.
  • Grab The Floor. Grab the floor with your feet; it will help activate your glutes. Do NOT let your heels come off the floor.
  • Knees Out. Same as for the way down: don’t let your knees buckle in. Push your knees out as you Squat up.

*Always use free weights for Squats. Machines are not only less effective for muscle and strength gains because they balance the weight for you, they also force you into fixed/unnatural movement patterns

The Deadlift

To Build a Better Back: Push from the heels... SQUEEZE the Glutes

To Build a Better Back: Push from the heels... SQUEEZE the Glutes

The dead lift is a full body lift that focuses on improving strength for the back and lower extremity (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluts etc.), as well as forearm and grip strength.  Keeping

your back straight is critical to avoid injuries when lifting heavy objects from the floor. Deadlift by pushing from the heels, and bringing your hips forward. Not by pulling with your lower back.

Deadlifts start with the bar at mid shin level. Walk to the bar and position your feet under the bar with shoulder width stance, toes slightly pointed out. Chest up, shoulders back, look forward – Keep this position and your back will not be able to round. Keep arms straight, tighten triceps.

EXECUTION: If you Deadlift correctly, you’ll feel most stress in your upper-back, glutes & hams. Shoulder blades over bar, bar against shins.  Bring hips forward and PUSH FROM THE HEELS, squeezing the glutes hard. Keep the bar close to you, rolling over shins and thighs.  The movement is complete when knees and hips are locked.

To bring weight down, unlock hips first, then the knees. Chest remains up, shoulders forward and head up as you bring the weight down.

*There is no need to arch or shrug at the top of the movement.  Rolling the shoulders or hyper extending the back are dangerous and inefficient.  Extend your knees and hips and stop.

Source: Stronglifts.com

This video was taken  at the Battle of Honor in Pelion S.C.  250lb DL / 111lb Bodyweight.

This was my first meet.

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Considering Glutamine?…. It’s that Important !
Shari

by on Sep.22, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Supplementation

There are no side effects. No health risks. It doesn’t make you bigger or stronger or give you energy or burn fat, yet it could be one of the most useful supplements around.

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our body – and highly concentrated in muscle cells. Glutamine has recently been re-classified as a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that while the body can make glutamine, there are times when the body’s need for glutamine is greater than its ability to produce glutamine.

Although the body produces glutamine, under times of stress, glutamine reserves are depleted and need to be replenished with supplementation.  Glutamine depletion caused by stress

Supplement with Glutamine if your body is under stress, which  includes stress from exercise.

Supplement with Glutamine if your body is under stress, which includes stress from exercise.

can be activated by something as minor as a common cold and the level of depletion increases with the severity of the disease. Patients undergoing surgery, burn victims, those suffering acute trauma, as well as HIV and cancer patients will all find their glutamine levels severely depleted by their condition.

Stress related glutamine depletion does not only occur with illness but also occurs due to stress caused by exercise. But the need for glutamine for many critical functions such as the immune system takes precedence over the building of muscles. Without any glutamine in the muscles we cannot build muscle mass and in fact the muscles can start to breakdown.  And the more stress the body is under, the more glutamine that is pulled away from the muscles.  And working out puts a lot of stress on the muscles.  If we supplement our body with glutamine we allow our body to keep a high supply of glutamine in the muscles and stop the muscle catabolism. This means the body can use the glutamine in the muscles to synthesize protein and build muscle mass. Because there is now enough glutamine for the whole body – the other critical functions such as the immune system have enough glutamine to perform their necessary functions as well.

Studies have shown that glutamine supplementation can do the following:

  • Increase Protein synthesis (which leads to increased muscle mass)
  • Increase nitrogen retention
  • Decrease muscle breakdown
  • Decrease recovery time needed after a workout
  • Enhance immune functions

How much glutamine is needed?

The typical American diet provides 3.5 to 7 grams of glutamine daily found in animal and plant proteins. Many people choose to supplement daily due to the long growing list of benefits.

Research shows levels of supplementation from 2 to 40 grams daily. Two to three grams has been found to help symptoms of queasiness.  This two to three gram dosage used post workout builds protein, repairs and builds muscle and can induce levels of growth hormone found in the body.

High levels of glutamine supplementation have been used in hospital settings with doses of 20 grams per day to treat colitis, Crohn’s disease and diarrhea. 40 grams per day of glutamine are used with HIV, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and burn victims.

If you work out regularly or intensely,  or simply want to boost your immune system, you should consider supplementing with glutamine. In addition, if you are going through any type of stressful event or just trying to fight off the cold or flu – glutamine can be very beneficial.

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